Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, February 2016

Guild Announcements:

  • Meeting notes from the executive board
  • 2015 year-end membership report

Member Announcements:

  • Next “Write 4 a Day” retreat February 20

Area Announcements:

  • Caffè Lena to feature Alan Casline & Stephen Lewandowski February 3
  • Arthur’s Poetry Open-Mic features Margaret Bryant February 10
  • New literary website hosts writing contest — deadline February 14
  • Third Thursday to feature Brian Dorn February 18
  • Upcoming workshops from Writers in the Mountains
  • NYS Writers Institute announces a calendar of free events for Spring 2016
  • Pre-K classrooms seek author visits
  • Podcast hosts invite HVWG members & friends to sign up for interviews


Meeting notes from the executive board 
The executive board of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild recently held the first board meeting of the year and elected the officers: president, Dan Wilcox; vice president, Gene Damm; and treasurer, Bob Sharkey. Other members of the board include Deana Anker, Debi Chowdhury, Joe Krausman, Julie Lomoe, Dawn Marar, Andrea Portnick, Barbara Traynor and David Wolcott (membership chair).

Faith Green will be coordinating the annual Writing Contest. This year the genre will be short fiction.  Watch for an announcement about the deadline and how to submit later in the year.

As we look forward to the new year and plan new programming, we thought we should let you know about two ways you can help us bring interesting and useful programs to the local writing community. (The Guild can even provide funding to you or an organization you are part of to help with your community-oriented literary project.)

#1 / Guild-sponsored events: Sometimes someone will say to me, “You know the Guild should…” or “I have a great idea for a Guild event…”  We are creative people, and we are full of ideas.  But the Guild is a volunteer organization and for an event to take place (a workshop, reading, panel discussion, etc.) someone has to step up to organize and coordinate. So we are looking not only for ideas but volunteers, as well. For more information about Guild-sponsored events, go to, click on the tab “Proposals” and the item “Requesting Board Approval of Guild-Sponsored Events.”

Or maybe you have a new book out & would like to read at one of the Community of Writers series? Let us know.  Contact the HVWG at

#2 / Grants: Do you have a literary project that needs funding?  Are you part of an organization planning a literary event and you want sponsors to help support it? Over the past couple years the Hudson Valley Writers Guild has provided funds to such groups as the Yes! Reading Series, AlbanyPoets in support of the Slam Team and the journal Up The River, to the reading series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum and to support last fall’s Teen Reader Con.

The Guild’s Mission Statement says, “The Hudson Valley Writers Guild fosters an active community of writers and readers by encouraging the development of local authors and providing opportunities for them to share their talents with local audiences.“  If you, or your organization’s, project supports that goal, the Guild can help. Visit the Guild website for the guidelines and application; click on the tab “Proposals,” then the first item “HVWG Grant Application Guidelines”  (or write to us at

2015 year-end membership report
At the end of 2015, the Hudson Valley Writers Guild had 144 “active” members, people who had paid their membership dues within the past two years. Of those, 103 (72%) paid their 2015 dues and 41 (28%) did not. Therefore, we start 2016 with 103 “active” members, roughly the same number we had a year ago. The 103 dues payers were composed of 28 new members and 75 renewing members, and they contributed a total of $3,530, an increase of $285 from 2014. This year, nine people renewed their membership for two years, a welcome trend, triple the number from 2014. And similar to last year, the annual writing contest proved an apt membership vehicle through which nine people joined the Guild or renewed their membership.

The Guild’s membership effort was carried out in 2015 through 210 mailings, composed of 107 renewal requests, 75 thank you letters and 28 new member welcome letters. Additionally, 40 year-end email reminders were sent to non-paying members. The direct cost of the 2015 membership effort was:

Postage: $110
Envelopes: $200
TOTAL: $310

Therefore, when compared to the $3,530 in revenues that resulted from the membership effort, we can say that the 2015 administrative expense for membership was 9%, somewhat below average for non-profit organizations.

The Hudson Valley Writers Guild had an honor roll of five members who made extra contributions in 2015, in addition to their membership dues. The following people are called out for special recognition of their effort:

Sylvia Barnard
Phyllis Hillinger
Kathleen O’Brien
David Wolcott
Edward Woodhouse

The Guild’s board is most grateful for the confidence expressed by new and renewing members’ ongoing support for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and the work it does on behalf of writers living in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Thank you!


Next “Write 4 a Day” retreat February 20
Write 4 a Day is a new series of monthly one-day writing retreats in upstate New York. Details:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no scheduleno WiFi!

Write. Don’t write. Think. Daydream. Doodle. Outline. Come for the whole day or just for part of it. Network, collaborate or write solo. Wander the woods, hills, fields and streams of Universal Pathways for inspiration (bring sturdy shoes) or sit in a comfy chair and brainstorm. It’s up to you.

  • WHO – you!
  • WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)
  • WHAT – $20 fee for the space (cash/check/PayPal) and food (a dish to share or your own lunch)
  • WHEN – Saturday February 20, Sunday March 20, Sunday April 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Rd, Berne, NY 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272


Caffè Lena to feature Alan Casline & Stephen Lewandowski February 3
On Wednesday, February 3, Caffè Lena will present  poetry readings by Alan Casline and Stephen Lewandowski. An open reading will follow. Doors open for sign-ups at 7 p.m., and the readings will start at 7:30. The host for the event will be Carol Graser, and the cost is $5. Caffè Lena is located at 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-0022,

Poet Alan Casline is the editor of Normanskill, a watershed anthology from the Normanskill watershed and of Rootdrinker, a long standing magazine of watershed poetics, art and nonfiction. As Director of Rootdrinker Institute, he organizes readings and special gatherings for poets, produces the RD Newsletter and is the editor of  Benevolent Bird Press. He is co-founder and on-going chronicler of The Cloudburst Council, an annual poetics gathering held in the Finger Lakes watershed.

Stephen Lewandowski has published 13 books of poetry, and his poems and essays have appeared in regional and national environmental and literary journals and anthologies. His two most recent books are Under Foot from May Apple Press in Woodstock, NY (2014) and Last Settler in the Finger Lakes from Foothills Publishing in Avoca, NY (2015). He serves as a consultant on watershed analyses for the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association.

Arthur’s Market & Cafe Poetry Open-Mic features Margaret Bryant February 10
Margaret Bryant is a published poet, essayist and open-mic participant with an MA from CUNY. Aligning Stems, Margaret ‘s chapbook of poems, was published in 2010. She is a current and 10-year participant in the New Hampshire “Writers in the Round” annual workshop for poets and musicians on Star Island off Portsmouth. Margaret currently hosts a critique and discussion group of 10 poets monthly at her home in Schenectady.

Sign-up for the regular 2nd Wednesday open mic is at 7 p.m. Readings begin at 7:30. The event is hosted by Catherine Norr. Arthur’s is located at 35 North Ferry Street, Schenectady, 12305.

New literary website hosts writing contest — deadline February 14
A note from the website’s editor Sam Hiyate: “Love is strange, love is beautiful, love is dangerous… I’m one of the editors of a new literary website called “Don’t Talk to Me About Love.” I’m sending this letter to you personally in the hopes that you will peruse our site and spread the word to fellow writers and friends about our debut contest, offering $1,000 each in fiction, non-fiction and poetry for pieces about love. (Note that the contest deadline is Valentines Day.) Best Regards, SamHiyate (”

Third Thursday to feature Brian Dorn February 18
Local poet Brian Dorn will read from his work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. 

Brian Dorn maintains an active presence on the Albany poetry scene. He has written a vast array of poems, many of which can be found in his new book, From My Poems To Yours (The Live Versions). He has also read his poems in multi-media performances with dancers at the Saratoga Arts Center and at the Poets in the Park series.

A reading by a local or regional poet is held each third Thursday at the Social Justice Center. The event includes an open mic for audience members to read.  Sign-up starts at 7 p.m., with the reading beginning at 7:30. The host of the readings is Albany poet and photographer Dan Wilcox. The suggested donation is $3, which helps support this and other poetry programs of the Poetry Motel Foundation and the work of the Social Justice Center.  For more information about this event, contact Dan Wilcox, (518) 482-0262; e-mail:

Upcoming workshops from Writers in the Mountains

  • “First-Person Singular: Writing Memoir and Essays” with Sari Botton, February 17 – March 23 / The class will be held Wednesdays, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Kingston Library, 55 Franklin Street, Kingston, NY. New York Times best-selling writer, ghostwriter and editor Sari Botton will help you write first-person true narratives that can be stand-alone essays or part of a memoir. She’ll also offer advice on publishing options. All levels welcome. You’ll have at least one short finished, polished piece by the end of six weeks.Sari Botton is a writer and editor living in Kingston, NY. She edited the award-winning anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York and the follow-up New York Times best-seller Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York. She has taught writing workshops at SUNY Ulster and SUNY Albany, and for TMI Project, a non-profit organization that gives voice to marginalized populations through memoir and storytelling workshops, for which she is editorial director. To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at To register online, visit Class fee is $100, if you register and pay three weeks before the class begins, and $125 after that.
  • Fiction Writing with Nanci Panuccio, February 23 – March 29 / The class will be held Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Phoenicia Library in Phoenicia, NY. This 6-week class will teach you essential craft elements to write mesmerizing prose. Whether you desire to write novels, short stories, flash fiction or novellas, you’ll learn to transform your imagination into believable, captivating narratives. Together you’ll explore character development, point of view, voice, plot, scene, description, and dialogue. Handouts from published authors will illuminate craft, and writing exercises will deepen and cultivate your skills. You’ll also have the opportunity to share your work and receive feedback from your instructor and classmates. Ideal for beginners and anyone who wants to sharpen fundamentals, the goal in these six weeks is to write one short story or begin a novel, and to gain solid footing on basic fiction writing techniques.  Be prepared to surprise yourself. Nanci Panuccio is a writer, editor, writer’s coach and creator of the online course, “Writer Unleashed.” Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Redbook and the Italian lifestyle magazine, Inizio. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a finalist in the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize and the Gulf Coast Fiction Award. Nanci blogs about writing and the writing life at To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802 or e-mail her at Class fee is $100, if you register and pay by February 2, and $125 after that.

NYS Writers Institute announces a calendar of free events for Spring 2016 (including State poet & author inauguration February 11)
Headliners include bestselling author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air); Pulitzer-winning playwright and UAlbany alum Stephen Adly Guirgis (Between Riverside and Crazy); pioneering Black female Hollywood director Darnell Martin (Their Eyes Were Watching God); Pulitzer-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg, whose previous book The Power of Habit spent 120 weeks on the Times’ bestseller list; visionary computer scientist who foresaw the Internet and who teaches computers to write poetry, David Gelernter; New York Times health reporter Sheri Fink, author of the major bestseller about Hurricane Katrina, Five Days at Memorial; 2013 Tony Winner for Best Director, Pam MacKinnon (the revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”); major Irish fiction writer Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn, the basis of the Oscar-nominated film; local son and Pulitzer winner Richard Russo with the new novel,Everybody’s Fool, the sequel to his beloved classic Upstate New York novel, Nobody’s Fool; and much, much more. Visit the links below for more details:

Also! Mark your calendars for the State author and poet inauguration ceremony on February 11 at 8 p.m., at Page Hall. The new State author will be Edmund White, one of America’s finest prose writers, and its leading chronicler of Gay experience. The new State poet will be Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer winner and one of America’s most influential and most anthologized poets.

Pre-K classrooms seek author visits
Milissa Cantanucci writes to the HVWG, “I was wondering if you have any local authors that will visit out Pre-K classrooms with age appropriate books? We are in Guilderland at Christ the King School. Thank you.” Email Milissa Cantanucci,

Podcast host invites HVWG members & friends to sign up for interviews
A note from “Authors Talk About It” host Rob Alex: “I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our podcast, Authors Talk About It. [It] is becoming a huge hit on iTunes. We interview authors five days a week about their books. We would love to our share our podcast with your members and invite them to sign up for an interview on our site. [In addition,] we have just put together our first book award contests and would love to share it with you and your group.  So if you can share our book contest link we would be honored: Also let us know how we can assist you. As authors and promoters ourselves, we understand the challenges facing authors today. We are always happy to help where we can.”