Writerly Happenings: An Ode To Autumn Reading And Safe Harbor's Newburgh Literary Festival

Nicole Homer

Nicole Homer

Whatcha reading?

My daughter, 8, is sitting next to me at Trax on a beautiful Sunday morning reading “McMummy” by Betsy Byars for a book report and it’s really pretty deep. I’m feeling the sweet and sad parallels between the vegetable mummy disintegrating into green scraps and the main character’s feelings of loss around the inherited box he has of his dad’s things. Deep!

I’m reading a new book of poetry I special ordered from Binnacle Books. It’s called “Pecking Order” by Nicole Homer and it’s about race and motherhood and I’m loving it. The book is published by Write Bloody which seems like a pretty rad, scrappy press and I’d like to read more of their authors. 

Also, her poem “Underbelly” is deeply affecting and totally worth a read on poets.org

“Let me say it 
another way: I like to call myself wound

but I will answer to knife. “

Well, dang. 

So – here’s to super lovely Hudson Valley blue skies full of wispy clouds and crisp breezes that keep the sun from being too hot and some stupendous upcoming events to make it all come together this fall like caramel and apples.

Safe Harbor’s Newburgh Literary Festival

This edition of Writerly Happenings is going to mostly focus on the Safe Harbor’s Newburgh Literary Festival this coming weekend, October 18-20th!


This is an amazing new festival coming to our area, and there’s so much to celebrate! The festival is organized by Safe Harbors board member Hannah Brooks and novelist and memoirist Danielle Trussoni - 2 Newburgh neighbors who wanted to build an event around all of the writers that have been more recently drawn to our neck of the woods, and draw some talent up from the city as well.

“The word was in the air,” said Hannah when I recently asked her about their motivation for creating this event. They reached out to Atlas Studios, who had recently started the Spring Street Reading Series with Ruth Danon, as well as the Newburgh Free Library, and the organic process moved very quickly from there. Always a good sign you are on the right track!

So – what does the literary festival have in store for us? 

Mitchell Jackson

Mitchell Jackson

Friday Night

Friday night at 6:30pm at Atlas (11 Spring Street in Newburgh) there’s a reading and reception featuring author Mitchell Jackson, winner of the Whiting Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction.

Poet Gretchen Primack will be reading, whose work has been published in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review and many others.  I’m going to miss this and I’m so sad about it I could cry. Please go in my steed, sweet readers.

Saturday Day

Safe Harbors will host the Festival’s Main Event on Saturday October 19th from 2-6pm at the Ritz (107 Broadway in Newburgh), with a robust, full-day program of readings, interviews, podcasts, film clips and Q&A with nationally-recognized authors and poets.

Among them will be Maria Dahvana Headley, creator of the celebrated and politically topical adaptation of Beowulf The Mere Wife; Molly Ringwald (!!!), actor, and author of the critically acclaimed story collection When it Happens to You; Bettina “Poet Gold” Wilkerson, Dutchess County poet laureate; Edwin Torres of Nuyorican Poets Café; and award-winning novelists Panio Gianopoulos, Danielle Trussoni, Crystal Hana Kim, and Elizabeth (Betsy) Crane. 

Saturday Night Cocktail Reception & Local Authors Fair

A cocktail reception and Local Authors Fair from 6-8pm will follow the day’s events. Tickets are $20 available online and at the door the day of the event. Students, $10 at the door with valid ID.

Sunday Day

Sunday, October 20th will feature two, live writing workshops that are almost sold out already, How to Tell the Story of Your Life, led by novelist and memoirist, Danielle Trussoni at Safe Harbors Ann Street Gallery, 104 Ann St., Newburgh, 10am-12pm; and Surprise Yourself; Surprise Your Reader, with poet Ruth Danon at Atlas Studios Gallery, 11 Spring St., Newburgh, 1pm-3pm. Tickets are $25 per person, per workshop.

Special Note For Friday and Saturday

Also on Friday and Saturday from 11am – 5pm the Ann Street Gallery at 104 Ann Street, will present TEXT, a group exhibition of text-based art. 

Safe Harbors is all about community engagement and blocks of tickets have been provided to area high school and college students. This is an inspiring program on so many levels.

So I’ll see you there babies, with bell jars on.
— Phoebe Zinman

AND if you didn’t need any more motivation, local merchants and restaurants will be offering discounts throughout the weekend for Festival attendees .

So I’ll see you there babies, with bell jars on. Let’s support this inaugural event in the hopes that not only does it become a regular thing, but the ongoing smaller and inclusive projects that the organizers hope to be able to fund throughout the year can come to fruition.

Speaking of fruition, let’s see these other notable Happenings blossom! 

Happening At This Side Of The River

“Hatched In The Drift” Works on by Mariam Aziza Stephan and Poetry by Julia Johnson. Photo Credit:  No. 3 Reading Room and Photo Book Works

“Hatched In The Drift” Works on by Mariam Aziza Stephan and Poetry by Julia Johnson.
Photo Credit: No. 3 Reading Room and Photo Book Works

Photo Book Works and No. 3 Reading Room 3 in Beacon has a pretty special exhibit up this month: “Hatched In The Drift” features works on paper by Mariam Aziza Stephan and poetry by Julia Johnson. 

Local author Virginia Sole-Smith will be conversating with Nicki Sizemore on October 25th at Split Rock Books in Cold Spring about Sizemore’s new cookbook “Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker.” My crock pot  saves my family from scurvy on a fairly regular basis so this seems not to miss.

On Saturday October 26th, the Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison has the Hudson Highlands Poetry Reading Series from 1:30-2:30pm

Coming In November!

And just in case we don’t get back here before November 9th, from 3-5pm the Beahive on Main Street in Beacon will present writers Ken Holland and Maceo J. Whitaker to celebrate the book launch of Maceo's debut collection of poems, Narco Farm.

Sigrid Nunez

Sigrid Nunez

Slightly farther afield, on November 11th Bard College presents a reading by National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez. That’s a treat, not a trick.

Speaking of tricks, double check all your candy, hide all the wrappers, and soak up that glorious sun while you can. 

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


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?

Dreyer Split Rock.jpg

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.” 

BAU gallery-July20.jpg

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! 


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.