In Defense Of…

Confession: for a few months, I pondered ending the reading series that I’ve been running for over five years, The Writers’ Showcase. The series has undergone a lot since its inception, including three venue changes and a co-host who moved to Philadelphia. However, after talking to writer friends from across the county, I’ve decided to keep it going. I’m grateful to them for sparking my motivation to keep doing this thing. We’ve had a lot of conversations about the Trump age and what this means for the arts, namely if the NEA and NHE are totally defunded, which has been proposed in the Trump budget. No matter the fate of those organizations, it is imperative that we keep these local reading series going as a means to give a voice to writers. Writers have always been a form of resistance, and we need to ensure that we have spaces and series to make their work available to the public. With that in mind, I am going to host another edition of the Writers’ Showcase in April, and we’re thrilled about the line-up, which is included on the flyer below. I am also committing myself to continue writing book reviews for other writers. My goal is to write 4-6 reviews a year, a schedule I’ve been able to keep up with over the last few years and one I think I can maintain. Here is a new review I wrote of Patrick T. Reardon’s book Requiem for David, which I highly recommend. I was not familiar with his work until the editor of At the Inkwell asked me if I wanted to review it. Another goal for me is to review books of authors I’m not familiar with, as a way to expose myself to work outside of my usual circle and do the same for others.

Let’s think about ways that we can continue supporting our local art scenes because we really need that right now.

The Writers  Showcase Spring 2017 (1)-page-001.jpg

When it gets closer to the date, I will post the bios of our featured writers for April.

Last Literary Events of the Year

I’m closing out the remaining weeks of 2016 by doing a few more readings for Waiting for the Dead to Speak, before I take a break for a few weeks to celebrate the holidays and gear up for the new year. Here is a list of upcoming events. Special note: the 5-year anniversary of the Writers’ Showcase Reading Series in Scranton will happen this Saturday!

Sunday, November 27 2016 3-5 p.m.

MRAC Reading

419 Green Lane (Rear) Havertown, PA 19128

Thursday, December 1, 2016 7- 9 p.m.

Farley’s First Thursday Poetry Reading

Farley’s Bookstore, 44 S. Main Street, New Hope, PA.

Friday, December 2 2016 6 p.m.

First Friday Poetry Reading

Library Express, Steamtown Mall Scranton

Saturday, December 3 2016 7-9 p.m.

Writers’ Showcase

Olde Brick Theater, 126 W. Market Street, Scranton, PA

Featured readers include Stanton Hancock, Alexis Belluzzi, Daryl Sznyter, and  Jaimee Wriston Colbert. Admission is $4.

 

Thinking of NEPA, Thinking of Its Poets

Thursday evening was a celebration of the northeast, Pennsylvania literary community. The evening marked the release of an anthology I had opportunity to co-edit, Down the Dog Hole: 11 Poets on Northeast PennsylvaniaWe gathered at Keystone College in La Plume to read from the book, but also to mark the relaunch of Nightshade Press. An English professor at Lackawanna College, I was happy to see folks from other local colleges present, including Penn State Worthington-Scranton and Wilkes University. My hope is to continue to see this community grow among the colleges because we do far better when we support each other.

I’ve always struggled with my identity as it pertains to NEPA. As a teen, I couldn’t wait to get out of here, especially when the punk rock venues I hung out in  high school closed. They were my only refuge in the area, places I could go where I didn’t feel like an outcast. They got me interested in writing, music, and art. I escaped to college outside Philly and spent most of my weekends hanging in the city, record shopping, book shopping, and reading some of my first poems (very bad drafts) at the Philly area open mics. I cut my teeth in the poetry community in Philly and still keep close connections to that area today. Graduate school brought me back here, and I stayed. At this point, I’m grateful for the chance to teach what I love at Lackawanna College and to help foster the growing literary community here.

As I listened to nine other poets read from the anthology the other night, I was reminded how much there is to mine in this area. One of the poems in the book references John Mitchell, the labor leader who lead mining strikes in the early 20th century and met with Teddy Roosevelt for labor negotiations. Other poems celebrate the natural beauty of this area. Now that I’m older, I’m more comfortable with my place as a poet as it pertains to my native area. As I joined friends the other evening to celebrate this literary community, I was reminded how much has yet to be written about this area. The anthology is a nice start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Celebrate the Re-Launch of Word Fountain

I’ve been saying for years that northeastern, Pennsylvania has a vibrant art community and literary scene. Those scenes have just become stronger thanks to the re-launch of the literary magazine Word Fountain, which makes its return to the world this Friday, via a launch party.Check out the Facebook event page here. The reading will be from 7-8 p.m. at the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre.

As a preview, here is an image of the new cover!

Owl

New Poem/New Community Dedicated to NEPA Writers

I’m pleased to announce that there is a new website/journal dedicated to creating  community among poets based in northeastern, Pennsylvania. The website, Poets of NEPA, is seeking submissions as a way to showcase local talent.  One of my poems, “Sipping Tea with You in September,” was published today. It is a very autumn-centered poem, and you can read it here.

If you are an NEPA-based poet, then submit your work!

First Friday!

Recently, Lackawanna College has become involved with Scranton’s monthly art walk First Friday. As part of this month’s First Friday at Lackawanna, I have been invited to read selections from All That Remains at the college’s Seeley Memorial Library, located at 406 N. Washington Avenue in Scranton. This event will also feature student artwork, a student open mic, and music by  Joey Zarick, lead guitarist and singer of Boston-based band The Indobox and formerly of Scranton-based band Rouge Chimp. The event is free and open to the public. I will have books available for sale.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat in an audience and just listened to another poet or musician perform without worrying about also having to read my work. But tonight, I attended the Fourth Friday Open Mic series at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock just to listen and enjoy the entertainment. I was especially impressed by the number of high schoolers that got up there and read their work. That takes a lot of guts and courage, and I doubt at that age I would have been able to do it. I didn’t read at my first open mic until college. Several of the students that read are part of the Breaking Ground Poets organization, led by Tunkhannock High School teacher Katie Wisnosky. The organization has held various poetry slams over the last year at different venues around northeastern, PA. I respect and admire Katie’s energy as a teacher and the way she has inspired her students to care about the art of writing poetry, or creating music. I wish more schools had similar support for the arts, or more teachers willing to create organizations similar to the Breaking Ground Poets.

If you want to see these students in action, then come by the Dietrich Theater this Sunday at 5 p.m. The students will compete in a poetry slam. The cost is $5 per ticket, and the money goes towards their trip to Chicago to compete in a national poetry slam. You should also check out the next open mic on June 28, which is free. It starts at 7, but get there earlier if you want to sign up to perform. I will be filling in for Laurel Radzieski as the emcee. and my friend Dave Hage will be the musical feature.