Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, March 2016


Guild Announcements:

  • Website help wanted

Member Announcements:

  • Pauline Bartel’s “Learn the Art of Writing Personal Essay” starts March 3
  • Judith Prest offers visual journaling workshop on March 12
  • Harvey Havel shares review of his novel The Orphan of Mecca
  • Don’t you deserve at least one day to write?
  • Pauline Bartel’s “No Excuses: Writing and Selling  Your Book” begins April 4

Area Announcements:

  • Caffè Lena to feature Rodney Parrot March 2
  • Auditions March 5 and 19 for upcoming performance of art on mental illness
  • Arthur’s Market & Cafe Poetry Open-Mic to feature Joe Krausman March 9
  • Call for poets: Response needed by March 15
  • Third Thursday to feature Annie Christain March 17
  • Upcoming writers’ workshops at Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Troy
  • Authors: Register for Writers in the Mountains’ “Meet the Authors” by April 3
  • Opportunity for ghost writer


Website help wanted
The Guild is looking for someone with the appropriate skills and experience to re-vamp, improve and re-design our website ( Essentially, we want to incorporate much of our current website, with important other features such as online membership sign-up and electronic payment, online sign-up for the newsletter and expanded listings/calendars comparable with current state-of-the-art sites. In addition to the initial re-design, we are also interested in an ongoing relationship to maintain the website over time, all at a rate of payment to be negotiated.

We are preparing a detailed request for proposal (RFP) that we will post on our current website, but in the meantime if you are interested and have the skills to do this, you may send an email to with a copy of your CV or resume and your proposed rate of payment (i.e., hourly rate). If you do so, we will email you a copy of the RFP when it is posted.


Pauline Bartel’s “Learn the Art of Writing Personal Essay” starts March 3
Transform the ordinary events of your life into extraordinary personal essays. Explore the step-by-step process in “Writing From Your Heart: The Art of Personal Essays,” a course that will be held on Thursdays, March 3, 10 and 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College. Course fee is $59, which includes a coursebook. To register, telephone (518) 629-7339.

Instructor Pauline Bartel will examine the process of using writing games to unlock personal experiences, choosing the most effective essay style, shaping experiences into first drafts and allowing reader reaction to refine the draft into a polished essay. Bartel is an award-winning nonfiction writer and the author of seven published books. She is a member of the prestigious American Society of Journalists and Authors. Visit her website ( for further information.

Judith Prest offers visual journaling workshop on March 12
Arlene’s Artist Materials is thrilled to present a visual journaling workshop with Judith Prest on Saturday, March 12, 1-5 p.m.

Take your creative writing to the next level with visual journaling. This workshop is perfect for anyone who has ever kept a journal or wants to get started. Discover the magic of line, color and texture through collage, watercolor and other mediums. Most importantly: be ready to have fun and come prepared to play.

This workshop is $50 per person, and space is limited to 12 students. To register, please either come into the store at 57 Fuller Road in Albany or call in (518) 482-8881.

Harvey Havel shares review of his novel The Orphan of Mecca
The Orphan of Mecca is an ambitious novel that presents a tragic story of love and strife during Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Two idealistic students discover just how dirty a game politics can be in this romantic thriller from Havel (Charlie Zero’s Last-Ditch Attempt, 2014).

Readers meet Amina Mitra and Raja Gupta in 1969, optimistic college students from the first generation born after East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan were partitioned from India after World War II. They meet on registration day at Dhaka University, join the nationalist cause and gradually fall in love. But there are obstacles (“Dating wasn’t an option in East Pakistan. The children simply grew to a certain age, and then their parents gave them away to the husband of their choosing”.) To make matters worse, Raja is Hindu and Amina is Muslim; in the charged political atmosphere of a revolutionary land, simply holding hands on the street is sufficient to land them in jail, or worse.

Both are political idealists, working to gradually liberate the nation of their birth from the manipulative and homogenizing influence of Islamabad, but Bangladesh is a small country trapped between the conflicting interests of the major powers during the Cold War. (Pakistan is President Richard Nixon’s door to China—the weapons Amina and Raja fear falling prey to are American-made.) As their romance deepens, the young couple find their idealism manipulated, the worlds of politics and spycraft both cogs in “a multi-layered machine that already understood that human beings were essentially animals and had to be controlled whenever their chain of command saw fit.”

As Havel leads his readers from idyllic Bengali villages and cruel interrogation cubes to paradisiacal Calcutta hotels and the hidden slums of Mecca, he presents not only vivid personalities but a compelling vision of history. At one point, Raja muses about the Indians and Pakistanis: “The Indians seemed happier, while the Pakistanis were always paranoid of India’s culture. India appeared to be living in peace, while Pakistan existed in a perpetual state of war and unrest.” Havel understands how the abstruse mechanizations of geopolitical brinksmanship can influence everythin, from whispering lovers to struggling nations. Readers should feel caught up in the events of half a century ago as though they were happening now (which, in some impoverished country, they assuredly are).

The Orphan of Mecca by Harvey Havel is a suspenseful romance between a Hindu and a Muslim and a nerve-racking historical tale. America Star Books (272 pp.). $27.95 paperback. ISBN: 978-1-63508-040-7

Don’t you deserve at least one day to write?
Write 4 a Day is a new series of monthly 1-day writing retreats in upstate New York hosted by HVWG member K.A. Laity. It’s a low-stress day that includes:

  • no workshop
  • no agenda
  • no required activities
  • no assignments
  • no schedule
  • no 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 and host K.A. Laity
  • WHY – because you deserve a day to devote to your writing (or daydreaming or sketching or scheming or knitting or…)
  • WHAT – $20 fee [$15 for HVWG members] + your lunch (or a dish to share)
  • WHEN – upcoming dates: March 20 and April 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • WHERE – Universal Pathways, 692 Pleasant Valley Road, Berne 12023 – Phone: (518) 872-2272

Pauline Bartel’s “No Excuses: Writing and Selling  Your Book” begins April 4
The course “No Excuses: Writing and Selling Your Book” will be held on Mondays, April 4, 11 and 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Schenectady County Community College. Course fee is $85. A required coursebook ($15) is available from the instructor on the first night of class. Register online ( or in person.

Instructor Pauline Bartel will discuss the step-by-step process of transforming an idea into a published book, including creating a book proposal, finding agents and publishers and guiding a book to publishing success. Bartel is an award-winning writer and the author of seven published books. She is a member of the prestigious American Society of Journalists and Authors. Visit her website ( for further information.


Caffè Lena to feature Rodney Parrot March 2
On Wednesday, March 2, Caffè Lena will present a poetry reading by Rodney Parrot. 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.

Rodney Parrot has a PHD in Asian religion and has written in many forms: academic articles, a book of Indian philosophy, a novel, poetry, homemade chapbooks, two ghost written books and short stories about his business, Rescued Art. His newest poetry collection, Flying, was published in January 2016 with Northshire Press. He has been a regular at Caffè Lena poetry for many years and has consistently delighted our audience with his insights, musical language and imagery.

Caffè Lena is located at 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs. (518)

Auditions March 5 and 19 for upcoming performance of art on mental illness
Come take part in staged readings of stories, poems and original music about mental illness. You will be taking the stage with some of the incredible essayists of the critically acclaimed book, Shades of Blue, edited by Amy Ferris. The show will be performed at the Wood Theater, May 28, at 7 p.m.

In a recent interview, editor of Shades of Blue, Amy Ferris, said, “Mental health issues need more attention. So whether it’s a story about depression or an essay about a suicide attempt or a piece about the issue of family suicide, we need to start talking about this. We need to start shouting about it, because people feel so alone.”

Be part of this essential conversation. See the audition details below:

  • Where and when: Saturday, March 5, in the Christine McDonald Room Crandall Library in Glens Falls, 1:30-4:30 p.m.; or Saturday, March 19, in the H. Dutcher Community Room of the Saratoga Library in Saratoga Springs, 1-3 p.m.
  • What to prepare: An essay, poem or original piece of music that speaks of your experiences having or loving someone with a mental illness. No more than 5 minutes, please.
  • How: Email director Logan Beth Fisher at to schedule a time.

The event is sponsored by Warren Washington Association for Mental Health.

Arthur’s Market & Cafe Poetry Open-Mic to feature Joe Krausman March 9
Joe Krausman was the MCA fellow in playwriting at Smith College. He has an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts where he held the Massachusetts Fiction Writing Fellowship. He has taught at Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In 2015, he won second prize in the Raynes Prize Contest. His poem was selected from over 600 poems. He was a finalist in the contest in 2013 and 2014. Krausman is a graduate of the advanced Yiddish course in Oxford, England. He has translated stories and poems from Yiddish into English.

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 with much support from Ginny Folger and Jackie Craven. Arthur’s is located at 35 North Ferry Street, Schenectady, 12305.

Call for poets: Response needed by March 15
The Rensselaerville Library’s Poetry Month committee is looking for a diverse group of poets to come to Rensselaerville for a poetry of courage/poetry of witness event and a nature poetry event. If you are interested in joining the stellar lineup of poets already enlisted, for either or both events, please send 2-3 poems and a 2-3 sentence bio. Email a single MS Word or PDF document for each event to by March 15, 2016. Please indicate the event(s) (Nature and/or Courage/Witness) in the subject line. Descriptions of the events follow:

  • Wild Minds: Nature Poetry at the Huyck Preserve, April 23, 3-5 p.m. / In Writers and the War Against Nature, Gary Snyder describes the wild side of the human mind as large, deep, complex…The explorers of the wild mind are often writers and artists.” We humans are part of the natural world, but it can be easy to lose sight of that as we move along our daily rounds. Nature poetry can help us remember our connection to our environment. Many nature poets celebrate natural beauty or describe personal responses to experiences in nature. Others confront environmental devastation and injustice. Possibly the most important reason to read, write or listen to nature poems is that they remind us to pay attention to our world. They call on us to use all our senses to discover aspects of wildness inside ourselves. The Research Station on Lincoln Pond (Pond Hill Rd., Rensselaerville) at the Huyck Preserve is a logical setting for an afternoon of readings of original work by regional poets, as well as readings of well-known poets by guest readers. It is a peaceful place where readers and audience members can respond to poetic explorations of the natural world.
  • Singing in the Dark: Poetry of Courage/Poetry of Witness at the Carey Center for Global Good, April 30, 3-5 p.m. / The turbulent issues of the 21st Century (including those related to refugees, terrorism, racism, nationalism, gender, age, free speech, climate and war) have resulted in a particularly fertile time for poetry, as well as for other forms of artistic expression. Poetry speaks to our deepest fears, as well as hopes. Around the world, poets are not only writing in reaction to the issues of the day, but they are also confronting these new times with new poetic forms, such as documentary poetry, ecopoetry, spoken word/slam poetry, multi-genre expression, etc. The Singing in the Dark event seeks to pack into two hours an introduction to poets who use both traditional and new forms to address the challenges of living in these uncertain times, as well as to poets who have addressed historical events with similar urgency. You will hear poems by regional poets, as well as readings (by guest readers) of poems by well-known poets. The diverse voices of those moved to engage these issues, including the often unfamiliar poetry of indigenous peoples, will be represented in both this event and the Huyck Preserve event.

Third Thursday to feature Annie Christain March 17
Poet Annie Christain will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m.

Annie Christain is an assistant professor of composition and ESOL at SUNY Cobleskill with poems appearing in Seneca Review, Oxford Poetry, The Chariton Reviewand The Lifted Brow, among others. She received the grand prize of the 2013 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2013 Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the 2015 Oakland School of the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award and the 2015 Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. Additional honors include being selected for the Shanghai Swatch Art Peace Hotel Artist Residency and the Arctic Circle Autumn Art and Science Expedition Residency.

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 or

Upcoming writers’ workshops at Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Troy
Gather on the PEN-ultimate Wednesday of each month for co-writing with the TVCOG Writers’ Group. Brown bag a dinner and bring your writing tool(s) of choice and a project. All genres welcome. Electrical outlets, hot beverages, water and snacks provided. (Brown bag any other beverages you enjoy.)

Dates: March 23, April 20, May 18, June 22, July 20, August 24

Location: TVCOG, 30 3rd Street, Troy 12181 (corner of Broadway);


  • 6:00-6:25 – dinner, settling in and socializing (optional)
  • 6:30-8:25 – co-writing (Shhhhh)
  • 8:30-9:00 – sharing session (optional: stay or leave by 8:25)

Cost: TVCOG and TVGS members, free; non-members, $5 at the door

Bring other writers with you! RSVP to Rhonda Rosenheck at or

Authors: Register for Writers in the Mountains’ “Meet the Authors” by April 3
Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites authors residing in, working in or otherwise connected to the Catskills and Hudson Valley regions to a literary arts and community event and celebration we call “Meet the Authors,” the third in our series of annual book festivals. This year the event takes place on Sunday, April 24, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, an exciting new enterprise in the area. Union Grove is housed in a big, old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel, copper and wood, a roaring fireplace and the percolation of fine spirits—all making for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about and think about books and writing.

Building upon the past two years’ success of our literary fair and fare, regional authors and other authors who have a connection to the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley are once again invited to join us. Come to sell your books, promote your work and network with fellow writers and publishing professionals. Authors attending are also heartily invited (although not required) to give readings as part of the lively program of presentations and entertainment throughout the afternoon. This year’s keynote speaker is Rosie Schaap, author of the celebrated memoir Drinking with Men, as well as the “Drink” column for The New York Times magazine.

Participating authors will receive additional exposure and visibility for their works through the marketing materials (space ads, calendar listings, posters and flyers) and media appearances (Facebook and WIM is very active at local radio station WIOX) associated with this event. A light breakfast will be served for participants the day of the event. The fee to join us. The cost is only $35.

For more information, visit, or contact us by e-mail at or by phone at (845) 594-3548. Registration deadline is April 3.

Opportunity for ghost writer
A note to members from Bryan Hull: “Hello, I was looking online to hire a ghost writer to help me with composing a book about a 30-year career of a Hudson Valley resident who was the manager of the local Holiday Inn hotel in Fishkill, NY, during its pinnacle throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. During that time, this one person has come into contact with many famous people, including politicians, famous singers, local community leaders, actors and anyone else who traveled in New York since it was one of the only places for lodging in the area. I am looking for someone who will be interested in working with the person to get the entire story down to paper in a professional manner. I decided to search locally since I believe whomever I search for will have a connection to the area and a greater desire to help me complete the work. If you have any questions or would like to speak further please respond via email ( or phone (845-702-0711).