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.

New Review

I wanted to share a review written by Dante Di Stefano for Waiting to the Dead to Speak, published by Arcadia Press. I am grateful for this thoughtful review and the context Dante places the book in, post-election, namely the class issues. You can check it out here.  Here is an exert:

The Scranton, Pennsylvania of Waiting for the Dead to Speak, a place freighted with pasts and vanishings, could be anywhere in Middle America; Fanelli’s poetry mainlines anthracite and coal dust, caked in creosote and lye, in order to deliver a rustbelt bucolic in which empathy outflanks hate.

Next post, I’ll reflect on 2016, and share some of my favorite films and books of the year.

Something Worth Celebratin

writers-showcase-december-2016-1-page-001

Tonight, we’re celebrating five years of the Writers’ Showcase Reading Series in Scranton. I hear that there will be cupcakes. There will also be featured readers taking  the stage to share their work. I’m going to get a little sentimental for a moment. The Writers’ Showcase has undergone three different venue locations. Yes, three! We started out at New Visions Studio and Gallery, a wonderful space in downtown Scranton that closed its doors about two years after we started the reading series. Then, we moved to the Vintage Theater, also downtown. Unfortunately, that venue closed a few months after we relocated. Last year, we found a new venue, the Olde Brick Theatre. They have been incredibly supportive of everything we do.

Since the series started, we’ve mixed local writers with regional and national writers. We’ve had features come from as far away as Boston and Chicago, yes Chicago, to take part in a reading series in Scranton, of all places. My original co-host and co-organizer, Jason Lucarelli, wanted to start this series with me because there were few reading series in Scranton back in 2011. The city was also in MUCH worse financial condition than it is now. At the time, Scranton made national headlines because the mayor had to temporarily pay city workers minimum wage, due to the city’s debt and distressed status. Now, five years later, the city is almost out of distressed status, in part, because it sold off a lot of its assets, including the Parking Authority and Sewer Authority. There are no more headlines on NPR or Fox News about the city’s crisis, thank goodness.

Perhaps more importantly, the downtown has a different look. Back in 2011, there were entire blocks of downtown with vacant storefronts, especially on Lackawanna Avenue. Now, most of those empty storefronts have been filled. Last night, after I had a reading during the First Friday Art Walk, I marveled at how many boutiques have spread through the downtown, from Penn Avenue to Spruce Street. I also took a moment to feel grateful that a poetry reading on a Friday night had so many people at it. Even more people flooded  a holiday market held at the location of a former popular department store, The Globe. This says something about the potential this city has.

Scranton’s future still has yet to be determined. It still has many obstacles to overcome, namely matters of long-term employment prospects for young people, but the city has changed since the Writers’ Showcase Reading Series started five years ago. The downtown has more businesses and restaurants. There is a community of young artists trying to create something here. The city is moving forward with paying off its debts and getting out of its distressed status.

Tonight, we’re going to celebrate five years of a reading series that has connected national writers with local ones. We’re also going to celebrate the progress the city has made.

New Review/Upcoming Readings

I want to thank fellow poet Matthew Hamilton for this new review of Waiting for the Dead to Speak. Since Matthew is a vet, I appreciate his close analysis of some of my poems that deal with war from the perspective of a civilian who had friends that had to do two or three tours in Iraq. I am also grateful for the closing words of his review:

I admire Fanelli’s bravery enormously. This is not an arrogant poet seeking recognition. Fanelli writes from a sympathetic and forgiving heart. He encourages us to stand fast, to claw our way out of the disillusioned and absurd world of the rabbit hole.

I also want to note that the Scranton book launch is coming up this Friday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Olde Brick Theatre. This month, specifically within the next two weeks, I have readings in Reading, Scranton, Boston, and NYC. Here are the dates and info:

Thursday, October 6 2016 6-8 p.m.

First Thursday Poetry Night

GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Reading, PA

Friday, October 7 2016 7-9 p.m.

Scranton Launch Party for Waiting for the Dead to Speak

Old Bricke Theatre, 126 W. Market Street, Scranton, PA

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Newtown Publishing Center Showcase

289 Elliott Street,  Newtown Upper Falls, MA

Thursday, October 12 2016 7-9 p.m.

Poetry Night at the KGB Bar

KGB Bar, New York, New York

I will be one of the featured poets this evening.

Here is a flyer for the reading in Boston. I’m grateful to have two book launches within one weekend!

bostonreading

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down the Dog Hole We Go!

I have been sitting on this news for weeks and weeks now, but I am happy to announce that Scranton-based poet Tom Blomain and I recently edited an anthology called Down the Dog Hole, featuring 11-NEPA based poet writing about the greater Scranton region. The book will be out in the coming weeks through Nightshade Press of Keystone College. On Sept. 22, we will have a book launch at Keystone College, and we have a scheduled Scranton launch for Oct. 14 at the Library Express.

The featured poets include: David Elliott, Dawn Leas, Craig Czury, Erin Delaney, Jane Honchell, Susan Luckstone Jaffer, Nancy Dymond, Laurel Radzieski, Amanda J. Bradley, Tom Blomain, and I.

Here is a picture of the front cover. I will post a pic of the back cover, too, once I have a high res copy.

down_dog_hole_cover_highres (1).jpg