Buy the man a beer, or something

Three years ago,  Jason Lucarelli and I met to discuss creating a new reading series in northeast, Pennsylvania, one that would include featured readers only, no open mic, and combine poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Out of those initial meetings came the Writers Showcase Reading Series, which was held at the now defunct New Visions Studio and Gallery in Scranton and then the Vintage Theater this past year. We wanted to showcase the work of our friends, and since then, we’ve hosted over 100 writers, some local and some from far away as Chicago.

Jason has been an instrumental part of this reading series. He has invited several poets and prose writers to our area, connections he’s made through his  low-res M.F.A. program in Vermont.  Furthermore, once I started the Ph.D. program, took on a full-time teaching job, and released a new book, he took on the press duties  and has succeeded in ensuring our readings got publicity in the weekly arts papers.  So far (fingers crossed) we’ve never had a low turnout for any of the readings, and that is because of Jason’s hard work getting the word out.

All of this said, Jason will be moving away to Philly for a new job. I wish him the best of luck. We ran this series for three years, and it’s been a great run. It will continue, at least for July and November, dates we confirmed a long time ago with the Vintage. Our next reading will be Saturday, July 12 at 7 p.m., and it will feature Bryne and Charlotte Lewis, Paul Capoccia, Eric Wilson, and Bernadette McBride. Here is the Facebook event page.

When it’s a little closer to the date, I’ll post more info about July’s featured writers, including their bios, and post some articles from the local arts papers. It’s unclear now whether or not Jason will still be in town to co-host the reading, but if he is there, give him a thank you for co-organizing this series over the last three years. Buy the man a beer when we all go out to a bar afterwards.

Here’s a picture from the first reading at New Visions. The featured readers were Norma Bernstock, Amye Archer, Steve Keating, Alexis Belluzzi, Tom Borthwick, Jason, and I. In the meantime, keep supporting the other readings in the area, both the open mics and featured readers series. Other people like Jason put a lot of time and energy into sustaining this local literary community, and they deserve support.



New Visions

Scranton has lost another all-ages art venue, this time New Visions Studio and Gallery, which will close this month. Tonight is the venue’s final First Friday art exhibit, and the gallery is having a few more events until mid-month. New Visions joins a long list of all-ages venue in northeastern, Pennsylvania that have closed in the last several years, including Test Pattern, Café Del Soul, Homebase, Café Metropolis, and others. This place was especially important to me because during the last two years I hosted a reading series there with my friend and fellow writer Jason Lucarelli. New Visions provided a place for dozens of local and national writers to share their work. We hosted poets, novelists, and memoirists, and all of them only had positive things to say about the venue and Scranton’s literary scene.

With yet another local art venue closing its doors, its important to support the venues that remain, especially the Vintage Theater, AFA Gallery, and other all-ages venues that host a wide array of events. I doubt I would have ever become a poet if I didn’t have venues like New Visions when I was in high school and then in college. Such places allowed me to cut my teeth at open mics and find a community of writers. For now, we bid goodbye to another venue, but the New Visions reading series will continue. We are currently working on billing writers for a November reading and finding a new venue. Stay tuned, and many thanks to Adam and Mel, the owners of New Visions, for running a wonderful gallery!