What a Wonderful Scene

This past weekend, I was reminded how wonderful a creative community the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area has. On Friday, I took part in a fundraiser/Equinox party for the Vintage Theater.  I was happy to share the stage with friend and fellow writer Amye Archer and share a few poems, and I got to hear some new talent in the area. I was especially impressed with the music of Katie Kelly, a 26-year-old from Wilkes-Barre. She fronts the band Ashes for Trees, but she played solo at this event.  She has quite a soulful voice, and when she first leaned over her guitar, I didn’t think such a powerful voice would come out of her!  At times, her vocal style also reminded me of Tori Amos. If you get a chance to see her solo or with her band, you should check it out.

The weekend concluded with Prose and Pubs on Sunday night. I had the pleasure of reading at one of these about two months ago,and it seems each one grows bigger and bigger. This month’s line-up included local writers Bryne Lewis, Kate Burrier, and Amye Archer. The feature was Jason Carney, a Texas-based slam/performance poet, whose work addresses everything from southern racism to being a dad. Each piece, including a memoir that he’s currently drafting, drew raucous applause from the audience, and it was great to see that many people so riled up over poetry and writing. The next Prose in Pubs will be sometime in late November, and you should come.

 Here’s one of the pieces Carney performed:

General Updates

Here’s a quick update of some fall events/readings I’m participating in.

This Friday, Sept. 23, I’ll be reading at the Vintage Theater with Amye Archer. Doors open at 6 p.m. There will also be art and music featured. Tickets are $10, and all money benefits the venue, which is located at 119 Penn Ave. in Scranton.

On Friday,  Oct. 14 at the Century Club in Scranton, I’m reading with other writers from the Mulberry Poets and Writers Association. The event starts at 6 pm.

On Saturday, Oct. 22 at Sellers Books in Jim Thorpe, I’m the featured reader for the evening. I’ll also share the stage with poet Dawn Leas.  The event starts at 7 pm. The bookstore is located at 101 Broadwy.

And on Saturday, Nov. 12, I’m reading and hosting an event for local writers at New Visions Art Gallery, located at 201 Vine Street in Scranton. I’m in the process now of finalizing the list of readers.

Finally, I also have a poem, “How She Hides Her Age,” in the new fall issue of  San Pedro River Review.  If interested, you can order a copy here.

So far, it’s shaping up to be a busy fall, and I like that!


Through Scranton may not be Manhattan, Baltimore, Philly, Boston, or any of the other big cities along the East Coast, I’ve always been surprised how strong of an art community this area has. If you don’t believe me, come to downtown Scranton during First Friday when the weather is warm, and you’ll see the art galleries packed.

Furthermore, this area has a pretty rich literary scene. I first discovered it when I moved back from the Philly area to attend graduate school at Wilkes University. I kept hearing about the monthly readings at Test Pattern, a venue that used to be on Adams Avenue, near the Bog. During the first reading I attended, I was impressed by the amount of poets who read, and how receptive the audience was. Once the venue closed, the reading series moved to Anthology New and Used Books. And I’m sure the poets who were part of that scene will find somewhere else to hold readings, now that Anthology is in different hands and restructuring its purpose somewhat.

One of the artists/writers I’ve met over the last few years is Jessica Meoni, a student at Marywood Univeristy. She runs a DIY publication called Ruthless Zine, which features a mix of political/social commentary, art, photography, and sometimes poetry.  Months ago, she told me about an event she’s launching called ZineFest, which will be held in downtown Scranton on Saturday, June 11, along Center Street.

She’s managed to book some editors/writers from zines along the East Coast to showcase their work at the all-day festival. I’m stoked about this festival for several reasons. First, as a former punk rock kid, I grew up going to shows where zines were as much a part of the subculture as the music.  In addition, I wrote for WonkaVision Magazine for a number of years, a music magazine based out of Philly. It started out as a small zine, but then grew into a large publication found in several different states. Zines always served as a great way to spread music, to support the indie/punk rock subculture, and to offer alternative, progressive viewpoints on a number of social/political issues. In the age of the Internet, it’s also nice to know that there are still people out there creating DIY print publications.

So, kudos to Jess Meoni for putting this together. I hope it enriches the  literary scene in this area, and I hope it becomes an annual event.

I’ll be hosting the reading portion of this event from 4-6 pm on June 11th at Pages and Places at Anthology, 515 Center Street. When the event is closer, I’m going to share some more info about the readers. Trust me, it’s a solid, entertaining mix! The rest of the festival will feature different tables along Center Street, right in front of Pages and Places at Anthology. The tables will feature different zines, arts, and crafts.

 To learn more about ZineFest, click here, and return to my blog for more updates about the event as it gets closer to the date! The website has more info about zome of the zines that will be at the event.

Vintage Theater Poetry Workshop

Over the summer, I will again teach a 5-week intensive poetry workshop at the Vintage Theater, located at 119 Penn Ave. in downtown Scranton. I wanted to cap the workshop at 5 students again, and I have that many down already, but I’ve decided to bump the number up a little bit. The workshop will again focus on the key elements of poetry, such as crafting an extended metaphor, developing voice/persona, and strengthening the rhythm of the line. The workshop will again conclude with a public reading of student work at the Vintage Theater.

I think there’s a few benefits to joining a community workshop. First, it forces one to write each week, to bring two poems, one that gets critiqued by the group, and one that goes home with me for thorough written comments. Second, I teach a variety of contemporary American poets whose work ties into the units we focus on week to week. Third, it’s simply nice to be part of a writing community, to get solid feedback on your work.

The cost of the workshop is again $75. The dates are Thursday, May 26, Thursday, June 2, Thursday,  June 9, Thursday, June 16, and Thursday, June 30 from 7-9 pm each week. If you’re interested, email me at bfanelli84@gmail.com to reserve a spot.