Writerly Happenings: Your Fall Reading And Writing Checklist

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by Phoebe Zinman

To honor the passage of bright summer days into the crisp academia of autumn, I decided to talk to Beaconite and Exceptionally Smart Person Sarah Uzelac about her summer reading list that she always posts on Facebook. All these other exceptionally Smart Women respond to it, and then I crib the whole thing and work on it all year long. 

Sarah! I love your summer reading list posts! Do other people talk to you about it or is it one of those weird Facebook things that you don’t talk about in real life?

Other people totally talk to me about this in real life and it is one of my favorite uses of social media. It makes me feel super connected to people to know we share a love (or hate) for a text - even if we can’t ever meet up IRL to discuss it.

What were some of the highlights of this year’s summer reading? Did you try anything you expected to not like and love it?

I’ve been on a real nonfiction jag this year and I can’t seem to step away from it for long. Usually I’m all fiction all the time, but I think maybe, given the state of our country at the moment, I’m subconsciously hungry for truth and information and super smart people telling me stuff? This summer I really loved The Furious Hours, by Casey Cep and the grief memoir Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan, and my favorite fiction from this summer was Fleishman Is In Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I just realized those are all women authors - I think that might be another unconscious theme for me these days: Enough with the dudes, already.

(I’m so with you. Enough, already. Grab your pom poms and warm the bench.)

 What are you reading right now? 

Right now I’m reading Edith Wharton for the first time ever (even though my husband has been trying to get her on my radar for like 10+ years). We took a little visit to her estate (The Mount) in upstate NY this summer - seeing her space and learning more about her life is what tipped the scale for me. I started with a couple of short stories (Xingu and Roman Fever) and they blew my mind with the perfectness of her descriptions and how incredibly dead on and absolutely CUTTING the social interactions were.

So right now I’m about a third of the way into House of Mirth and am loving it. And if you’ve never made the trip up to The Mount - do it this fall! Have a glass of Prosecco on her amazing terrace overlooking her incredible gardens and wander through her beautiful home and see for yourself what a genius she was.

[Editor’s Note: Sarah is married to NY Times Magazine staff writer Sam Anderson, whose most recent book Boom Town is available at Binnacle Books in Beacon, where he read earlier this year.]

What’s next?

I’m not sure - what are YOU reading??

I just borrowed The Flick from my Mom and read it in one night. It’s by one of my favorite playwrights, Annie Baker. And I just discovered, amazingly, that it’s being put on at Vassar on Wednesday to Saturday, October 9-12. Thanks, Hudson Valley. Keep it local, babies.

Speaking of Vassar College, I’m ashamed to admit I have never investigated their Elizabeth Bishop collection and am adding that to my Fall Goals checklist along with this Edith Wharton jaunt. 

Ok, so, back to Sarah… Who has lived in Beacon for a hot minute (over 10 years) and so of course I want to know what is your favorite new spot in town? What old spot do you miss?

We moved to Beacon in 2005 back when there was only *one* coffee shop and the Mountain Tops shop and that was basically it! I love this town so much. I love the new connections through town to the Madam Brett walking path along Fishkill Creek, I love Big Mouth Coffee, and the Himalayan stall in the new food hall, and the Beacon Yoga Center (because they have hatha and hatha is the best yoga). I miss the unobstructed view of the mountain while walking down Main Street and the comedy shows David Rees and Sam used to host – those were the good old days.

[Author’s Note: An Aside: Those comedy shows were as spectacular as the view of the mountain! But things change like the leaves, which lets me transition gracefully into our official Writerly Happenings round up for September…]

Writerly Things To Do

Speaking of recommendations, I discovered that Binnacle Books has this super sweet matchmaking feature on their website and you can order up a custom Binnacle Book match! 

How was the Artichoke??? We are so sorry to have missed it on the 14th. I’m guessing the next one will be in November. There’s still so much glowing Fall weather in between [fingers crossed].

On Saturday, September 21, we’ll see you at the Spring Street Reading Series at Atlas in Newburgh, which is dreamily titled “The Exile’s Child is Also an Exile” in which Faisal Mohyuddin, Natania Rosenfeld, Ruth Danon and Edwin Torres “explore the ways in which the children of the displaced carry the experience of exile into the next generation.” I mean. That doesn’t resonate or anything. 

Then head down to the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Peekskill on Sunday, September 22, for the ferocious billing of Sean Thomas Dougherty, Jeffrey McDaniel (Cold Spring local and Sarah Lawrence prof) and Michelle Whittaker. Have lots of fun and then go back on Friday, October 4, for master class with Arthur Sze (um, wow).

Split Rock Books in Cold Spring is keeping it pretty chill as we all settle in to Back to School land, but their graphic novel book club on the 23rd looks pretty spectacular. Kingdom by Jon McNaught portrays the realness of a family’s summer vacation. On Sunday, October 6, from 10:15 to 10:45 am they are having a storytime for little ones and award-winning author and illustrator, Elisha Cooper, will be reading from River - as in, our very own Hudson.

Want to do some of your own writing? Writer (and Artichoke storyteller) Donna Minkowitz’s fall workshop will begin September 25 from 7 to 9 pm, and goes for eight Wednesdays. Participants in the small workshops will “work on writing about our lives using the senses, emotion, lyricism, critical insight, and storytelling come to create profound and relatable works of personal writing.” Email her for more info at minkowitz46@gmail.com.

And Ruth Danon is starting up live writing in October, so you should check her website for more details. But only if you like doing experiential, improvisational writing to generate unexpected results and language in the company of really interesting and talented people and getting lots of insightful feedback. You don’t want that.

Then get your head out of that notebook on Sunday, October 13, and head down to Oak Vino for monthly literary salon Get Lit, featuring Matt and Emily Clifton. Matt and Emily wrote the beautiful Cork and Knife (locally profiled to an extreme extent on Published Local on A Little Beacon Blog, written by yours truly). If you aren’t yet getting the email newsletter, previewing articles from A Little Beacon Blog, you must get on that. Fall goals! Check!

Go fight your way through an apple orchard on a Saturday if you must, but treat yourself to some writerly nourishment afterwards. Don’t anyone talk to me about pumpkin-flavored anything, though. We’ll see you back here to jump in some leaves before Halloween…

Writerly Happenings: Summertime Edition For July (and Maybe August)

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Listen, it’s summer and we are keeping it loose. This edition of Writerly Happenings is being brought to you by “Spontaneity and All The Popsicles,” and may contain happenings in both July and August. 

Katie’s Summer Reading List - no shame. #SaveTheMagazines

Katie’s Summer Reading List - no shame. #SaveTheMagazines

On The Nightstands…

In that same spirit, this edition of What Are We Reading is keeping it real and not worried about intellectual heft. Our fearless leader Katie confesses that she went to Rite Aid and bought all of the rag magazines and a Clive Cussler book for summer reading. She is on a quest to save the magazines. Right now, you’ll find all of them at big box stores. So, people need to buy them. You can pick up your favorites at Rite Aid too. And Vogel Pharmacy, if you’re out near Leo’s.

Managing Editor Marilyn Perez is reading “Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life” by Charlotte Bell for the third time! She comes back to it every couple years, and I can only assume it helps to inform her excellent yoga teaching at Firefly Yoga in Fishkill.  

As for me, I’m staying informed about local events and maintaining a very low overhead by enjoying the Chronogram and Edible Hudson Valley (yay, Weed Issue!) and the award-winning Highlands Current.

So then, what’s happening all around us?

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Writerly Happenings Around Town

Split Rock Books has this pretty incredible offsite event with author Benjamin Dreyer, discussing his book at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival on Friday, July 12. I’ve heard a lot of great things about his book, “Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.” 

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Saturday, July 20, competes for your heart and mine with an intergalactic event at BAU. Matt Clifton and Larry Sansone are organizing a reading alongside an exhibition of Sam Beste and Elizabeth Arnold’s artwork. The subject is space exploration (in tandem with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission) and the fragility of life on earth.

Also that night, there’s another Spring Street Reading Series over at Atlas Studios in Newburgh. “Women and their Bonding,” from 7 to 8:30 pm, features writers Laura Brown and Idra Novey and is curated by Ruth Danon.

On Sunday, July 28, you could take a workshop with Donna Minkowitz, who will also be reading at Get Lit on Sunday, July 14, at Oak Vino. In the Beacon Summer Memoir Intensive, participants “write about our lives using the five senses, lyricism, emotion, critical thinking, and the art of storytelling." Then on Saturday, August 24, she is offering Writing From the Body at Wyld Womyn. This is a memoir workshop for all who identify as women, nonbinary or trans, and want to write about their “lives, sensations, pains, pleasures, and feelings of all kinds.”

Speaking of Get Lit, there’s a great interview with the righteous Ronnie Farley up on their website, and on Sunday, August 11, from 5 to 8 pm at Oak Vino they will feature poet Catherine Arra. Their lineup is looking very interesting for the fall, too.

And while we’re on the subject of of 50th anniversaries, on Tuesday, August 13, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, you can head to the Howland Public Library in Beacon to hear local author Sharon Watts discuss her newest book, “By the Time I Got to Woodstock - An Illustrated Memoir of a Reluctant Hippie Chick,” which she both wrote and illustrated! 

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Farther afield, there’s this fascinating series happening up in Hudson that I’m really intrigued by - The Home School Poetry Readings at Time and Space Limited - and they have a pretty stellar (interstellar?) lineup of writers. 

Also I saw a very pretty picture of some lucky writer working away at the Kingston Writer’s Studio and felt such envy! They are all booked up for members, but you can get a day pass and write all the things.

So then, if you Writerly Types can put down your magazine and climb out of the hammock, come join us. There will be air conditioning and no judgment about your summer trash-reading game. We’ll be tailgating out front with a popsicle.

Writerly Happenings: March Is Packed With Writerly Things To Do! New Writers Circle, Book Clubs and More

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Nicole from the hit Netflix show “Nailed It.”

By Phoebe Zinman

“Hellooo again!!”

Ideally, I’d like you to have heard that “Helloooo” in the voice of Nicole from “Nailed It,” but since that’s not likely we will move on immediately to…

“What Are You Reading?” The Co-Worker Edition

At my new full-time job, I surveyed women I work with, who are surviving working with me, in order to bring you these highly skilled and marketable reading recommendations. To keep their persons anonymous, I have revealed them only by nicknames.

The HBIC sent an email marked with High Importance and instructions not to delete her cosigning of Karen Moning’s “Highlander” series (this co-worker is indeed a fan of all things magic and supernatural and Irish).

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The Chorus Line duo is all about jazz hands. One is reading “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr, which combines suspense, historical fiction and justice (what more does one really need?), while the other is feeling the women’s empowerment of “We” by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel.

The Little Bird is making sure her glam new highlights didn’t fry any brain cells by staying up all night reading “Neverwhere” by sometime Hudson Valley resident Neil Gaiman and feeling very dreamy about it.

And the Silver Fox is multitasking as usual, with “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen and “All About Love” by bell hooks (also on my list).

As for myself, I just started “The Ticking is the Bomb” by Nick Flynn and am withholding comment until later because I’m cold-hearted like that. 

“What’s Going On? I’m Losing My Mind In This Weather!”

So what’s going on in the writerly corners of the Hudson Valley that you can get out to, since we are all about to lose our minds in the weather soup that is March?

LOTS OF WRITERLY HAPPENINGS!

GARRISON INSTITUTE
A new game in town (at least to me) is the Writer’s Circle at the Garrison Institute on Wednesday, March 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, looking super lovely and free of charge. Bonus round: It includes time for meditation, reflection, writing, and sharing.

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BINNACLE BOOKS BOOK CLUB
Binnacle Books in Beacon is doing its boozy book club at Denning’s Point Distillery on Wednesday, March 13, and you want to be there. “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah (of The Daily Show) is what’s on the menu. Get 10% off the book at the store, and $5 cocktails to sip whilst you tilt your head thoughtfully. 

P.S. EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you Binnacle Books for becoming a regular sponsor of A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide! It’s quite an honor to have an independent bookstore show their appreciation and value with a sponsorship!

HUDSON VALLEY WRITER’S WORKSHOP
Hudson Valley Writer’s Workshop has their monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 6, and a Facebook page full of other things to investigate.

SPLIT ROCK BOOKS
Split Rock Books in Cold Spring is on winter vacation until Monday, March 4, with limited hours until then. I’m personally pleased as punch for any small business owners who take a little time to recharge. And they are going to need it for March, because whatever your book club preference may be (History, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Kids Club) they have you covered this month. Also on tap in March: a drawing night, fermentation workshop, and readings by locals and beyond.

ADULT STORIES AT OAK VINO
John Blesso is hosting the second Adult Stories reading series at Oak Vino on Friday, March 8, with a great lineup of writers telling “true stories of an offbeat, edgy, or emotionally-challenging nature told without notes or pages.” $5 and please arrive on time at 7 pm so as not to interrupt. (I’m side-eyeing myself here, if that’s anatomically possible.)

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GET LIT AT OAK VINO
Get Lit on Sunday, March 10, features two speakers about award-winning children’s literature power couple James Ransome (illustrator) and Lesa Cline-Ransome (author). In addition to their collaborations on books about Serena and Venus Williams, Harriet Tubman, Louis Armstrong and Alvin Ailey, James is also the artist behind the beautiful mural at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie.

GET LIT WRITER’S WORKSHOP
Lucky us! Get Lit founder Julie Chibbaro is doing a an ongoing writing workshop for teens called “Write Your Own Adventure” for ages 12-15 on four Thursdays (March 7-28), and an adult writing intensive on Saturday, March 30, at the Howland Library in Beacon. Also free! See here for details.

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WRITING WORKSHOP AT QUINN’S
Stop in to Quinn’s on Tuesday, March 12, and stay a while as readers from Ruth Danon’s Live Writing workshop take to the stage at 7 pm. I am not reading this time, but I will be eating some pickled plum and clapping like mad for them.

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THE ARTICHOKE STORYTELLING SERIES
Meanwhile, The Artichoke Storytelling Series at the Howland Cultural Center, hosted by Drew Prochaska, is SOLD OUT! It features storytellers from The Moth, Risk! and Story Collider, as well as Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening. If you were considering moving to Beacon, Fishkill, or Wappingers (anywhere close to the Howland Cultural Center), this new series is a pretty compelling reason!

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH IN TIVOLI
On Tuesday, March 26, you can start your National Poetry Month festivities early (move over, St. Paddy’s Day) up in Tivoli with this brilliant mashup of poetry and philosophy at Murray’s Coffeeshop (the coffee is super good there) from Bard College and the Poetry Foundation. “The Words We Live By: Poetry and Philosophy in Conversation” features poet Fred Moten and author Robert Gooding-Williams, and looks to be a deep well. It’s introduced by this quote by Hannah Arendt: “The storehouse of memory is kept and watched over by the poets, whose business it is to find and make the words we live by.”

Phew! That was a lot of must-dos for this month. If you hear of any throughout the year, email me at phoebe@alittlebeaconblog.com.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Surprise! An Editor’s Note, because we couldn’t just stop writing in the Writerly Happenings section! If you love this Writerly Happening series as much as we do, and if you love helping promote writers and illustrators and books, then consider becoming a regular Supporting Sponsor! You can get your logo published bright and shiny at the top of this article, and each article we publish a month. Or, if you are a regular person with no business but really want to be a Sponsoring Individual, you can! Please see our Media Kit page for details, and other opportunities for sponsorship. All of our sponsoring advertisers help us get the word out, pay our writers, and grow this publication as a self-sustaining, family-friendly business. Thank you!

High School Students Can Get Writing Help In Writing Lab Thursdays at Library

Beacon High School students looking for help with writing projects can stop by the High School Writing Lab on Thursdays, after school from 2:30 to 4 pm, at the Howland Public Library. Support, assistance, and encouragement will be available for students in grades 9 to 12 who are working on school or personal writing projects and college essays.

Drop-ins are welcome; no registration is needed. Facilitator Jess Conway is an instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

To see more opportunities like this one for kids, see A Little Beacon Blog's Classes for Kids Guide.