Writers Unbound: Writers in the Mountains’ Fifth Annual Catskills Literary Festival

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to its annual literary arts and community event and celebration Writers Unbound, the fifth in our series of annual literary festivalsThis year the event takes place once again at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY, on Sunday, April 29 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Union Grove is housed in a big old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel and copper and wood, a roaring fireplace, and the percolation of fine spirits—along with its wonderful owners and staff, it makes for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about, and think about books and writing.

The daylong event welcomes all writers and readers, artists and audience, and community members from every walk to enjoy a warm gathering of successful and fascinating writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, and publishers from Syracuse to New York City and points between and beyond.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jan Albert. Albert has storytelling in her blood. Her father, Marvin H. Albert, a prodigious fiction writer, produced over one hundred novels (from westerns to private-eye series) under his name and five pseudonyms, and wrote movies for Frank Sinatra and Sidney Poitier, among others. But when it came to her own life’s work, Albert stuck with the facts, since the “stranger-than- fiction”/ “you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up” true-life tales of the people she’s met traveling the world and the streets of New York City, producing and writing for radio, television, documentary film, newspapers, museums, magazines, and the Internet have never failed to amaze and inspire her.

Albert began her career at WBAI, a public radio station in New York, where she interviewed hundreds of creative artists, including Al Hirschfeld, Stephane Grappelli, Lillian Hellman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joan Didion, and Harold Pinter. Also at WBAI, she produced and hosted Behind the Screens, a long-running series of talks with film directors, actors, writers, and producers, followed by A Minute at the Movies, a series of one-minute film reviews heard on WNYC and National Public Radio.

After several years at the Village Voice, where she ran the city desk, Jan moved on to television, crafting news pieces and documentaries for CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel. She’s worked with legends like Bill Moyers, Diane Sawyer, Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and Ed Bradley, and her television and radio work has been recognized with two Emmys, a Cable Ace Award, and the Armstrong and CPB Awards.

Albert has also written for newspapers and magazines, including the Village Voice, the NY Daily News, and the Columbia Journalism Review, and has written audio tours and multimedia presentations for the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Intrepid Museum, and other institutions throughout the U.S. and in India, where she crossed Rajasthan, to tell the stories behind some of the region’s greatest forts and palaces. Currently, she is blogging for PsychologyToday.com. Jan and her husband, Dick Demenus, co-founder of Tekserve (New York City’s original Apple store) split their time between NYC and Pine Hill.

This year’s featured poet is Beth Lisick. Lisick is a writer, actor, and the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Everybody Into the Pool. Her work has been published in various magazines and journals, including Best American Poetry. She co-founded San Francisco’s Porchlight storytelling series, traveled the country with the Sister Spit performance tours, and received a Creative Work Fund grant for a chapbook series with Creativity Explored, a San Francisco studio for artists with developmental disabilities. Beth has appeared in films that have screened at Cannes, Sundance, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. She is a resident of Brooklyn and Olive and is currently finishing her first novel.

Come by to shop for books directly from their authors, hear readings and peer-to-peer discussions (always with a Q and A element), join in an enticing raffle (books are the prize, of course), and vote in the Best Book Cover contest. Union Grove’s hand-crafted vodka drinks, as well as beer and soft drinks, will be on sale. (Note, there is no food sold at Union Grove, but the Arkville Bread & Breakfast Diner is right next door.)

The program is as follows:

  • 12:30 p.m.—Poetry Reading hosted by Sharon Israel, author of Voice Lesson / Featured Poet Beth Lisick 
  • 1:00 p.m.—Publishing Panel / Group Discussion Addressing the Latest News and Trends in Publishing. Panelists include Leslie T. Sharpe and Anique Taylor. Moderated by Simona David.
  • 1:30 p.m.—Keynote Address with Jan Albert </strong
  • 2:30 p.m.—Illustrator’s Moment with cookbook editor Carrie Bradley Neves and illustrator and children’s book author Durga Yael Bernhard 
  • 3:00 p.m. —Writing Fiction: Leaping from the Known to Unknown with Ginnah Howard
  • 3:30 p.m. —The Bounty of Books Raffle, with a prize of ten selected book titles, will be awarded (come early, tickets are limited!), and the winner of the Best Cover Contest will be announced.

Throughout the day, participating authors will read from their works and share their stories with the audience. Admission is free. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org, or e-mail writersinthemountains@gmail.com.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 (c) (3) not-for–profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation, and sharing of creative writing. Learn more at writersinthemountains.org.