Writers’ Showcae at the Vintage

This Saturday, March 1, Jason Lucarelli and I will be hosting the Writers’ Showcase at The Vintage in downtown Scranton. The reading starts at 7, and I’m excited about our line-up! It should be  great night.  Our featured readers are Laura Duda, Jeff Rath, Emmalea Russo, Kevin McDonough, Amanda J. Bradley, and Le Hinton. Here is a list of their bios and here is a link to a feature story The Weekender just published on Le Hinton and the reading.

In addition to writing, Laura Duda’s creative outlets include a custom line of art called BarnYard Art where she utilizes recycled materials – old barn wood, barbed wire, saw blades, horse shoes, etc. – and natural elements to create art and jewelry.  She has also had gallery showings of her digital nature photography. She and her husband operate a horse drawn carriage business and reside on a small horse farm in Fell Township, Pennsylvania.  She an adjunct instructor in the humanities division at Lackawanna College, and co-chair of both the Creative Arts Club and First Friday Committee. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University as an instructor in English composition and creative writing. Laura is a Spring 2013 graduate of the Wilkes University Creative Writing Master of Arts program where she focused on fiction and nonfiction.  She has had fiction published in the Osterhaut Library’s Word Fountain, and her non-fiction short story “Bonnie” was published in the Fall 2012 edition of the East Meets West American Writer’s Review; the story won honorable mention in the 2012 Fall Writer’s Contest.

Jeff Rath is the author of three collections of poetry: The Waiting Room at the End of the World (2007), In the Shooting Gallery of the Heart (2009) and Film Noir (2011), all published by Iris G. Press. His works have been published in a number of journals including Everyday Genius and Fledgling Rag. He is the 2007 R.E. Foundation Award winner and a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Emmalea Russo is a poet and visual artist making process-based works. Recent work has appeared in Two Serious Ladies and THE VOLTA. She is the author of they (an artist book made from thread and Gertrude Stein’s Stanzas in Meditation, GAUSS PDF, 2014), and the chapbooks book of southern and water (Poor Claudia, 2013) and CLEAR1NG (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Kevin McDonough is a full-time Assistant Professor at Lackawanna College. He teaches a range of English and writing courses including College Writing, Introduction to Literature, Women’s Literature, American Literature to 1900, and Language, Literacy, and Play. Kevin also works as an adjunct professor for Marywood University’s English department, teaching Composition and Rhetoric, Children’s Literature, and Structured Linguistics. He spends his time outside of the classroom writing and performing original music—and working on short fiction. His New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to actually start submitting his stories.

Amanda J. Bradley has two books of poems out from NYQ Books: Hints and Allegations was released in 2009 and Oz at Night in 2011. She has published poetry and essays in many journals including Kin Poetry Journal, The Nervous Breakdown, The Best American Poetry Blog, Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and Poetry Bay. She was interviewed in The Huffington Post in April 2013. Amanda is a graduate of the MFA program at The New School, and she holds a PhD in English and American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She is an Assistant Professor at Keystone College.

Le Hinton is the author of four poetry collections including, most recently, Black on Most Days (Iris G. Press, 2008) and The God of Our Dreams (Iris G. Press, 2010). His work has been published in Gargoyle, Little Patuxent Review, Unshod Quills, Watershed, Off the Coast, and in the poetry anthology/cookbook, Cooking Up South. His poem “Epidemic” was the winner of the Baltimore Review’s 2013 Winter Issue contest. In 2012, his poem, “Our Ballpark,” was incorporated into Derek Parker’s sculpture Common Thread and installed at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as part of the Poetry Paths project.

I love Scranton, but…

Everyone knows that Scranton is broke. The city made national headlines a few years go when former mayor Chris Doherty paid city workers, including police officers, minimum wage because of the city’s financial woes. That action earned Scranton headlines in the New York Times, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, NPR, and other mainstream media outlets. Now, there’s been chatter about the city’s recently created “amusement tax.” According to an article in Electric/Diamond City, a notice was sent to business owners about this tax in January, and the notice states that the tax allows the city “to impose a 5-percent tax upon privilege of attending or engaging in non-exempt amusements, including every form of entertainment, diversion, sport, recreation and pastime, requiring all persons, partnerships, associations and corporations conducting places of amusements; imposing duties and conferring powers upon the Treasurer of the City of Scranton; prescribing the method and the manner of collecting the tax imposed by the ordinance; and imposing penalties for the violation thereof.”

Editor Tom Graham’s piece raises important questions, too. “Exactly 5 percent of what?” he asks. 5 percent of a ticketed event? 5 percent of cover charges collected at the door? How exactly will the money be collected? There is a lot of troubling aspects of this tax. If it is imposed, it will probably hurt some of the smaller venues downtown by not only whacking them with the tax, but also by driving bands, writers, actors, actresses, and other entertainers away from Scranton venues because the tax would impact how much they get paid to perform. Scranton has a lot of issues, but thanks to First Friday and the strong, growing art and entertainment community, it does have culture. It would be a shame if this tax killed that.

The best thing to do is to attend city council meetings and call the mayor’s office and urge them not to enforce this tax. The contact information for city officials can be found here.

more readings!

This month, I’m doing several readings to promote Front Man even more, and I’m especially excited about these events because of the other poets on the bill.

On Friday, January 21 at 7 p.m., I’m going to read with Dawn Leas, author of the chapbook I Know When to Keep Quiet, available from Finishing Line Press. The reading will be held at the Barnes & Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre (7 S. Main Street). Dawn holds an M.F.A. from the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program, and her work has appeared in a variety of journals, including goldwakepress.org, Willows Wept Review, and Writers’ Bloc.

On Friday, January 28 at 7 p.m., I’m the featured reader at Anthology New and Used Books in Scranton (515 Center Street). I’ll read for about 20 minutes, and then a limited open mic will follow.

On Saturday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m., I’m heading up to Ithaca, NY to read with two wonderful poets. The poets I’m sharing the stage with are  Jaime Warburton, an associate professor of writing at Ithaca College and author of the chapbook Note That They Cannot Live Happily, and Charles G. James, who lives in Elmira, NY and does all of his work on a typewriter. How cool is that? The reading will be held at the Owl Cafe,  located on the second floor of the Autumn Leaves Bookstore in the Ithaca Commons.

More info about the Ithaca reading is available by clicking on the link to the flyer below! All of these events are free.

Owl_Cafe_Reading_flyer[1]