Writerly Happenings: Live Storytelling, Book Releases & New Writing Opportunities!

Hi Hi Hi! It’s Phoebe here. It’s been so long, I know, did you miss me? We wanted to wait til after the holidays to round up the best of the local literary scene and now we have eaten all the brie and there are so many good writerly happenings afoot to attend! We will do them all! We are leaning in to 2019! Actually, we are so tired, we are mostly falling over, but the love of the written word sustains us, does it not? (Love of the written word, and brie - life sustainers.)

But first we need to discuss what to read right now. This is the transitional part, like when Mr. Rogers changes his shoes and cardigan. (Why, oh why, won’t he ever pick the red one?) 

So… I’m currently reading “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is threatening to turn me into the woman with too many rings on who can’t shut up about the amazingly transformational book she is reading. Also I just ate up the delicious entirety of the new memoir “She Wants It” by Jill Soloway, the creator of “Transparent,” and I highly recommend. Still working on “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje.

I also asked around for recs. Kristen Holt-Browning, writer and editor and co-producer of Get Lit, just finished reading “Northwood” by Maryse Meijer, a sort of novella-in-poems. She says it's a dark, twisty, fairytale-ish story of desire and obsession and also a physically gorgeous object, with white text printed on black pages. Sounds fierce.

Extremely well-published and well-coifed writer Lily Burana is reading “Thick” by Kiese Laymon, and “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel” by Alexander Chee. She’s happily frolicking in the bumper crop of essay collections that have been published in the past few years.

Ok. I’m ready now. Let’s lean/fall/dive/plunge/bellyflop on in.

January 2019 Writerly Happenings 

This Weekend!

The Artichoke at the Howland. Saturday, January 12, 7:30 pm, is sold out online, but not sure if there will be additional tickets at the door. Mentioning here anyway because it is just so cool that this is coming to Beacon. It’s an evening of live storytelling by The Artichoke, hosted by Drew Prochaska and featuring Sandi Marx (seven-time Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Jeff Simmermon (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth; This American Life), Drew Prochaska (Risk!; Story Collider), Richard Cardillo (Risk!; Stories from the Stage, Susan Kent (The Moth), Micaela Blei (Grand Slam Winner, The Moth), Vanessa Golenia (Risk!) and John Blesso. Can’t get in? Well there’s another chance to do something similar on Sunday the 20th, but you must read on.

Also on Second Saturday is a book release event for Traffic Street Press’ "Trafficking in Poetry" series. The book "Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands" is a collaboration between Paulette Myers-Rich, the visual artist Greg Slick and poet Seán Monagle. A limited number of copies are available for purchase at the book signing at No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works on Main Street from 3 to 8 pm. 

Get Lit is happening this Sunday, January 13, from 5 to 8 pm at Oak Vino. The featured speakers will be authors Jessie Chaffee and Brendan Kiely, and as always, anyone who wants to read is invited to sign up to do so at the beginning of the event - bring two or three pages of original writing to share. But also if you are new to writing, or sharing your writing, you answer the monthly prompt about what your New Year’s resolutions are, and then sign up for a one-minute slot. Literally, it’s just a hot minute.

Also In January!

On Sunday, January 20 at Dogwood at 5 pm, John Blesso will be hosting the first installment of “Adult Stories,” a new and developing monthly storytelling series that intends to be like The Moth, but edgier. He’s looking for people willing to share “funny stories, harrowing stories, sex stories, emotionally charged stories, and inebriation/bad-choice stories.” If you’re interested please send him pitches for stories between six and ten minutes long! He’s working with Donna Minkowitz and Drew Prochaska on this, if you miss The Artichoke, or just want more storytelling. All the stories!

What’s that about local memoir writer Donna Minkowitz? Funky Spunky Literature Night (Redux) is a game-show-like Community Memoir Write-a-Thon with prizes for the best sentences and scenes that audience members write about their own lives. She will be joined by professional storyteller Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi at Quinn’s on Wednesday, January 30, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. She’s also got an 8-Week Memoir-Writing Workshop coming up, focused on craft, particularly on using the five senses, lyricism, emotion, storytelling, and critical insight to create profound and relatable works of memoir. Wednesday nights from February 6 through March 27, 7 to 9 pm. To apply, please email minkowitz46@gmail.com with a one-page writing sample.

Poet and teacher extraordinaire Ruth Danon (to whom I’m a bit partial, not going to even pretend otherwise) is going to start writing improvisation classes the week of January 29. Currently she’s planning on Tuesdays, from 9:30 am to 12 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm, but the time can be flexible based on everyone’s schedules… The fee is $275 for eight weeks and includes a private conference (at least one) and a public reading. Contact ruthdanonpoetry@gmail.com for more information.

Beacon’s magnificent Binnacle Books is featuring “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai for its next book club. I loved that book. So, so much sobbing. This month the book club will meet at the bookstore, but often is at Dennings Point Distillery.

And just downstream (or not, as our majestic and tidal Hudson River flows both ways) in Cold Spring, Split Rock books has a million events, or at least five, to get you through January and smarter on the other end.

The divine “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson was the January book club choice at the Beacon Library, and we were sad to miss it, but the pick for February is “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick and it sounds charming. The Butterfield Library in Cold Spring has a writing workshop with Susan Wallach in January and almost always a box of free books to rummage.

As always, we want to big up independent bookstores that may be a bit farther afield:

Rough Draft in Kingston has happy hours, sip and writes and plenty of other happenings; the Golden Notebook in Woodstock has a terrific event lineup, as usual; and we are wanting to go check out Oblong Books which has somehow escaped our research until now. We’ll report back next month.

Now dear reader, go put on a cardigan and some fresh slippers and get to it. Write! Read! Make it happen!

Chronogram Publisher, Luminary Media, Launches "The River," Local News for the Hudson Valley

Local news coverage is getting more options here in Beacon and the Hudson Valley. Luminary Media, the creators of longtime favorite for the arts, Chronogram, have launched an online “newsroom” to add to local coverage for the Hudson Valley.

Driving their mission is expanding access to local news. According to their About page: “Locally, we’re fortunate to have some great community-based local weeklies, owned and created in the Hudson Valley. But only some of our communities are lucky in this way. In fact, many areas in the Hudson Valley have no local coverage, and others don’t have more community coverage than afforded by the police blotter or random Facebook posts.”

The River promises to provide coverage “from Newburgh to Hudson, from Woodstock to Beacon.” You can visit it anytime on their website, or subscribe to it via their newsletter. Of course Beacon has local news outlets like A Little Beacon Blog (minus the police blotter… We don’t get into that), Highlands Current, The Beacon Free Press (though not online much), The Valley Table (based on Main Street Beacon), edible Hudson Valley, The Poughkeepsie Journal (though you can hardly read the articles between the video and ad pop-ups, and they throttle number of articles), News Channel 12 (on channel 63 on cable), and engaging Instagram accounts like EatingBeacon and Beacon Transplant.

The River Is A Newsroom On Civil, A Blockchain Newsroom Of The People

Journalism as a whole is always evolving. Local journalism is always evolving extra quickly, fighting to survive, sometimes with funding, sometimes without. Sometimes local journalists write for free, sometimes there are sponsors and advertising campaigns that help it all continue. Local journalism is actually super fun to be involved in.

However, in order to keep doing it, publications need to get creative in how they get funding. Enter a new media company, Civil, a “blockchain” newsroom powered by cryptocurrency with no ownership: Well, no ownership in theory… There’s a constitution explaining this, and a work-in-progress Beginner’s Guide that is a public Google Doc explaining how it works.

The River is a newsroom running on Civil, which is a company started by journalists and marketing professionals, inspired by decades of events that cloud publishing and advertising. Most recently, sadly, the total wiping out of huge local media companies Gothamist and DNAInfo. The publisher of these online publications didn’t want his editors and journalists to unionize, and in a tizzy, took them offline, wiping out history of local coverage including real estate development disputes, landlord investigations, politics, events, openings, new business stories, and more. Poof, gone. Years of journalists’ work was wiped out. Which gives rise to print and local newspapers that often get underappreciated, yet archived in libraries.

Later, WNYC and two other public radio stations acquired Gothamist, and the articles and radio stories have only gotten richer. The archives of Gothamist and DNAInfo did reappear online, and some folks from DNAInfo started something new called Block Club Chicago, which also is an official newsroom on Civil.

So journalists today are pretty emotionally and professionally damaged by the decisions of some publishers, and it is no wonder why they seek a publisher-free news outlet on which to publish their stories. According to Civil’s CEO, “Civil is building a newsroom platform using blockchain technology and cryptoeconomics to create an open marketplace for journalists and citizens. In Civil’s self-governing marketplace, readers may directly sponsor journalists, and journalists collaboratively run their own publications, called Newsrooms.”

Will This New Blockchain Newsroom Work?

Anything blockchain-related seems to be pretty high-concept. The premise behind an ad-free newsroom is noble, but as with everything, decisions come down to people and relationships. Even if a journalist is sponsored by a citizen, that citizen may accumulate a lot of special dollars-not-dollars called CVL Tokens, which is Civil’s currency in how journalists get paid.

We are witnessing a destabilization of social media-based gathering places for information - which started out as a hands-off, uncensored way to micro-publish information by anyone. However, we are witnessing a change, as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and others are removing posts and accounts. Some regular-person admins of groups enact grand gestures of power by locking a group or deleting it entirely, thereby paralyzing anyone who had posts on it that wants them removed and cannot, as per Facebook’s rules. The overuse or misuse of power may not only reside with publishers, and may be a human thing.

In the meantime, The River’s new source of news is a welcome addition to what we can find out about facets of life here in the Hudson Valley. Go sign up.

Writerly Happenings: Growing Local Community of Writers and Readers - November 2018

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Hi There, Reading Anything Good These Days? 

It’s Phoebe here - kicking off this column with what everybody is reading here at A Little Beacon Blog before we dive into the second installment in this new column, Writerly Happenings.

I just returned Peter Carey’s new “A Long Way From Home” to the library without getting too far, though he’s usually a favorite. Now I’m starting “The Glitch” by Elizabeth Cohen, which passed me by when it was published in 2012, but I’ve heard good things. 

Katie is reading edible Hudson Valley’s Fall issue about the secret hotel created by an app developer of luxury cars (what?!). He wouldn’t even let them take full photos - all secret photos.

Marilyn, our Managing Editor, is actually blogging about her yoga teacher training experience at her blog, Ink and Coffee.

Catherine, our Editor of the Art Gallery Guide, is reading science. Science! Actually it’s Anatomy this week. She is back in school to be a nurse.

Speaking of good things, here’s the second installment of this new A Little Beacon Blog Guide to Writerly Happenings. Every couple of weeks I round up the best events happening in our growing local community of writers and readers and the people who love them.

WRITERLY HAPPENINGS IN BEACON & COLD SPRING

On Wednesday, November 7, Binnacle’s Book Club meets from 7 to 8 pm at Denning's Point Distillery to discuss “Lake Success,” by Gary Shteyngart. If you are going and want to buy the book at Binnacle, you get 10% off this title. I’m sorry to have missed the reading of “The Seas,” by Samantha Hunt, on Wednesday the 24th, but staying tuned for more events to come.

The littlest Halloweenies and literary types might love the storytime and costume contest at Split Rock Books in Cold Spring on Sunday the 28th with David Quinn, author of “Go To Sleep, Little Creep.” Grown-ups should check out local author and journalist Virginia Sole-Smith’s reading from her first book, “The Eating Instinct” - described as “a personal and deeply reported exploration of how we learn to eat in today's toxic food culture,” on Saturday, November 10, from 7 to 8 pm.

Get Lit Beacon has its monthly writer salon at Oak Vino on Sunday, November 11. Featured speaker will be notable author Leland Cheuk. Get Lit offers an option for any writer to read their own stuff, so you should also sign up to read some of your work. And - they made T-Shirts! So far you can only buy them at the event, so go. Last month featured a very engaging professional storyteller explain how to tell a story, as well as local journalists Brian Cronin of the Highlands Current, and Katie of A Little Beacon Blog.

On Tuesday, November 13, poets from Ruth Danon’s Live Writing workshops take over Quinn’s for a reading of their work. We’ll be back with an update once the Facebook event page is up. 

Beacon’s new Poet Laureate, who has not yet been announced, will be inducted on Tuesday, November 20, at the Beacon Library in the Community Room from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. 

OPEN MIC NIGHTS THAT LITERARY TYPES MIGHT LIKE

For monthly musical open mic nights, check out The Falcon Underground in Marlboro, the Wherehouse in Newburgh, the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon and Fiesta Friday in Poughkeepsie.

Calling All Poets is having an open mic night at the Towne Crier in Beacon on Thursday, October 15, and on Friday, November 2, at its First Friday reading series up in New Paltz at Roost (the open mic on Friday, December 7, will feature Beacon local Ruth Danon).

FARTHER AFIELD 

Rough Draft Bar & Books hosts a reading on Tuesday, October 30, with local author John Langan reading from his horror novel set near the Ashokan Reservoir. Sounds scary and also totally worth a trip to Kingston.

We are prepared to tailgate to hear Roxane Gay discuss her book “Bad Feminist” on Wednesday, November 7, at Vassar. And we might have to because it’s first-come, first-serve to get in. Get your elbows ready!

And we are super excited that former Beacon resident Jon Beacham is back in the Hudson Valley and has opened The Brother In Elysium Books. This Tivoli bookstore had its grand opening at the end of September, a poetry reading earlier this month and in addition to focusing on poetry, literature, art, design, photography and film, also carries used and out-of-print books, actively buys books and “is also home to The Brother In Elysium publishing imprint and letterpress studio.”

We’ll see you back here in a couple weeks with more upcoming events. Tell us where to go and what to read in the meantime, if you like. phoebe@alittlebeaconblog.com

Wikipedia Is Written By Mostly Men - Beacon Library Aims to Change That With Edit-A-Thon Event

Consider this a call to action.

Consider this a call to action.

WHAT: Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon
WHERE: Howland Public Library
DAY: Saturday, March 24,
TIME: 11am - 3pm
RSVP here

You've read Wikipedia, right?

You've been in the car, in a restaurant, at a Trivia Night, sneaking views on Wikipedia to quickly answer a Very Big Question, like: "Were women really not allowed to own property?" Answer: You are correct! They weren't, until the Married Women's Property Act in 1939, when men needed to protect or hide their property from debt collectors during an economic crisis, and put their property into the name of their wives. Thanks Wikipedia for that info.

Wikipedia gets its info from the public - it's crowd-sourced - so random people contribute their knowledge with links and citations to back it up, thus creating this ever-growing encyclopedia.

Trouble is, according to a 2011 study, only 9% of these public editors are women. Editors can be anyone, but most of them are men.

Seeking: Women Editors on Wikipedia

Two librarians from the Beacon library are spearheading a local effort to better represent women on Wikipedia. As part of an Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thon, Rajene Hardeman and Gina Shelton are calling for people - of all gender identities and expressions - to participate in the daylong event on Saturday, March 24, at the Howland Public Library. The goal, in honor of Women's History Month, is to improve coverage of gender, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia. Beginner Wikipedians are welcome! According to organizers, Art+Feminism Edit-A-Thons across the world have created and improved more than 11,000 articles since 2014.

Women make up about half of the population, so you’d think they’d (we’d) be represented equally on Wikipedia, right? Well, no, not so much. There are wayyyy fewer articles about women, and traditionally feminine topics, on Wikipedia according to this article, "Gender bias on Wikipedia" on Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit group behind Wikipedia and other public-information-focused sites, did a survey in 2010 to learn more about who pitches in to this colossal encyclopedia. It showed that less than 13 percent of contributors to Wikipedia's English-language pages were women. The 2011 survey showed the number had fallen further, to about 9 percent. Wikipedia author Sarah Stierch informally surveyed more than 300 other female contributors to dive into the “whys” behind women’s participation.

Survey says... A Supportive Community Can Help Narrow the Online Gender Gap

Stierch asked about women’s experiences participating in the author/editor process at the massive behind-the-scenes Wikipedia community. Most of the people who answered the survey said they enjoyed contributing, calling it fun and empowering. Some survey respondents talked about name-calling, harassment, racist/homophobic/sexist bias, argumentative behavior, and other forms of generally exhausting hassle - sometimes gender-based, sometimes not. But one response stood out: "I don't see how having a majority male editor population has harmed me, or any other women. I don't see how changing it will benefit me. I don't think the lack of equal representation is driven by anything other than failure to show up and help.”

astronauts Dr. Jan Davis (left) and Dr. Mae Jemison working on the space shuttle endeavor in 1992. They were among the first american women in space. Photo credit: Nasa/wikimedia commons

astronauts Dr. Jan Davis (left) and Dr. Mae Jemison working on the space shuttle endeavor in 1992. They were among the first american women in space.
Photo credit: Nasa/wikimedia commons

Here's the thing: The lack of equal representation is itself harmful! Don’t historic women deserve the same equal representation? Of course they do! And current and future women - and men! - suffer the consequences of that lack of equal representation. People of all genders can have a hard time envisioning women in certain fields - because there’s not as much high-quality coverage and visibility. It’s time for that to change. Remember, 9% of the edits made on Wikipedia according to that survey in 2011 were made by women. Wikipedia is nothing but edits. The whole entire thing is edits.

Ready... Set... Edit Wikipedia! Here's How:

So. Are you fired up? Ready to go? Join the Edit-A-Thon on Saturday, March 24, at the Howland Library from 11am - 3pm. Organizers request that you bring your laptop, power cord, and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. New to this whole Wiki-editing thing? Fear not: The edit-a-thon will include tutorials for the beginner Wikipedian, ongoing editing support, reference materials, and refreshments. Don’t forget to RSVP - gotta make sure there are enough refreshments, right?

If you can’t make it to this event, there are other ways to pitch in. Event organizer Art+Feminism is a great place to start. The Women in Red WikiProject is another group working on bringing Wikipedia up to parity. Get involved when and how you can. That’s the great thing about the Internet. 24/7. Ready when you are. Even on snow days.

Groups for Writers Proliferate in Beacon

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It’s a good time to be a writer in Beacon! If you are an aspiring wordsmith, an accomplished author, or looking to find a supportive literary community to help you work though a current project, there are so many resources for you right now. Here’s a rundown of some of what’s currently on tap.

Get Lit Beacon

This fabulous new literary salon, started by talented local author Julie Chibbaro (National Jewish Book Award winner for Deadly, a Junior Library Guild Selection for Into the Dangerous World, and American Book Award winner for Redemption), meets on the second Sunday of each month at Oak Vino Wine Bar at 389 Main St. You can find out more on the group's Facebook Page, but the idea is that it’s a casual gathering where published and aspiring adult writers of any genre can hang out, have a glass of wine and share their work. Feeling like expressing yourself? There’s a sign-up sheet at the door if you want to read aloud. Chibbaro reveals the genesis of the group: “I started this event because I often hear about other writers in my town, but since I’m a homebody, I don’t get to meet them. This is a way for me to invite them out and hear their work.”

There have been two Get Lit salon events so far, and they were both inspiring and well-attended. The next one, scheduled for Sunday, March 11, will feature a reading by novelist and children’s book author Jennifer Castle.

High School Writing Lab & Zine Club

Are you a teen and a writer? Beacon has you covered, too. The Howland Library has a writing group for teens designed to provide support, assistance, and encouragement for students in grades 9-12 who are working on school or creative writing projects and college essays. There’s also a Zine Club for writers, artists, and photographers (the next meeting is Friday, March 16, from 3 to 5 pm). More info about this and other great library offerings for teens can be found here on the Howland Public LIbrary's website (the top says February but it is March's events). In the past, the library has offered help sessions for writers in high school.

Other Goings-On for Writers at the Howland Public Library

Also at the library is an ongoing Book Club, an upcoming book launch for Judith Filc (Thursday, April 12). The Howland Library just hosted (on Saturday, March 3) a memoir-writing workshop for adults with Donna Minkowitz, the author of two memoirs, Ferocious Romance (a Lambda Literary Award winner) and Growing Up Golem (a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award). Donna became known for her coverage of gay and lesbian politics and culture in The Village Voice from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, for which she won a GLAAD Media Award. She is a former feature writer for the Village Voice, and has also written for New York magazine, Ms., The Collagist, The Advocate, and Newsday. She teaches with the New York Writers Workshop and independently - sometimes in Beacon!

The Artist’s Way – A Creative Cluster

For folks who want to reflect on their own creative process, or tap into something that needs unclogged, this Creative Cluster is an exciting and creative group that meets at A Little Beacon Space on Sundays. It loosely follows the classic book, The Artist's Way, created and written by Julia Cameron. The group is being “lightly led” by Katie Hellmuth Martin. According to the event page's description, this is a “gentle group, where people who are reading the book and going through their journey can share their thoughts and connect with others.” Artists, Non-Artists, Regular People, and People Who Want To Be An Artist But Think They Are Far From Being An Artist are welcome. This session runs from March to May and is full, but check back for info about the next session. Lots of answers to all of your questions about participating can be found here.

Classes, Readings and Book Clubs

Around town, several writing groups who would like to remain anonymous meet regularly at various watering holes and other locations. At their meetings, more active or professional writers workshop their projects and critique one another’s work. There's even a secret writers' group who won't reveal their details, but we can tell you that they meet inside of The Telephone Building, which is also the location of A Little Beacon Blog's office. They are so elusive and quiet as they hide behind their laptops, that we can only tell you that it’s for writers who have been published in national magazines and so forth.

If you are interested in small writers workshops or classes, poets Ruth Danon will soon be offering some in Beacon, while Jeffrey McDaniel offers workshops in Cold Spring. And Julie Chibbaro, of Get Lit Salon fame, also offers a writing workshop that is mostly for fiction and non-fiction writers.

On Facebook, there are a few Book Clubs, like The Beacon Book Club, and The Beacon Moms Book Club.

Finally, we can’t pass up a chance to big-up Binnacle Books at 321 Main St., Beacon, NY. They offer an impressive selection of books, a willingness to order anything we want as long as it’s available, and a number of great readings, events and book club meetings.

Plus, see here for the great lengths gone to by Beacon Reads, the little bookstore next to the Howland Public Library. Proceeds from their book sales (of donations and retired library books) go toward the Howland Public Library. In this photo below, a volunteer from Beacon Reads hand-delivered a copy of The Artist's Way to the first meeting of the creative cluster.

A volunteer from Beacon Reads (left) hand-delivered a copy of  The Artist's Way  to a study group participant, Martha P. Humphreys (right). Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

A volunteer from Beacon Reads (left) hand-delivered a copy of The Artist's Way to a study group participant, Martha P. Humphreys (right).
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin