The Mid-Hudson Valley is a veritable repository of writers (including ones already published and those of us still dreaming of our first best-seller) and avid readers. Opportunities to get together, compare notes, learn new stuff, and share successes abound—two prominent ones being the Woodstock Writers Festival and Word Café.
The annual Writers Festival, held in the notorious village of Woodstock, draws dozens of accomplished writers and publishing/media industry greats willing to teach, talk, and generally hang out with their fans at workshops, panel discussions, and parties. The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. with an always-raucous Story Slam, and it ends with an amazing Memoir A-Go-Go Panel on Sunday afternoon. In between are keynote speakers, breakfast and cocktail parties, day-long workshops, and more enlightening literary panels than you can shake a pencil at.
Before that mixed metaphor sinks in and confuses, just check out this lineup of notables: Ann Hood, Lynn Johnston, Bar Scott, Kitty Sheehan, Gail Straub, Beverly Donofrio, Will Hermes talking to Chris Stein, Joe Donahue talking to Abigail Thomas, Mark Matousek, Clark Strand, Nan Gatewood Satter, Sara Carder, Mary Cummings, Gail Godwin, Ned Leavitt, Jenny Milchman, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Guy Lawson, Lisa A. Phillips, Laney Salisbury, Stephen Dobyns, Jane Smiley, Elisa Albert, James Howard Kunstler, Tom Folsom, Amanda Vaill, Sheila Weller, James Grissom, Christina Haag, Jillian Lauren, Susan Saxman, and the driving force behind the whole shebang—Martha Frankel. See the festival website for schedule, locations, and ticketing.
Word Café, the weekly literary gathering held at outdated café in Kingston, enters its second season with an awesome new lineup of local writers. Nine illustrious notables are scheduled to teach this spring: Marilyn Johnson, Akiko Busch, Gretchen Primack, Lois Walden, Porochista Khakpour, Pamela Erens, Eamon Grennan, Edwin Sanchez, and Cornelius Eady. Hosted by author and Chronogram books editor, Nina Shengold, each Thursday evening event features one poet, fiction writer, play/screen writer, memoirist, essayist or combination of all the above—whew!—who reads from their work and instructs participants in some aspect of their favored genre. A brief writing session ensues, responding to prompts given by Shengold and the featured guest teacher.
The spring series begins on April 2 and ends on May 28, with a special free event at the Woodstock Library Forum on Saturday, March 28—Writers Teach Writing with Sari Botton, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Alison Gaylin, Amitava Kumar, Jana Martin, Greg Olear, Abigail Thomas, and Mark Wunderlich—and an open mic Word Café Salon ending the season on June 25. Come to one or all for lively conversation about the craft of writing, and slurp down some of outdated’s excellent coffee, too. See the Word Café website for costs and schedule.