Poetry, Potluck, & Pinot 2017

Location: WAB – 740 University Ave.

Join us for readings by poets and members of the Writers & Books community. Each hour of this poetic celebration will include four poets who will read original poems in addition to work by other poets. Poets include: Maxim Backer, Nicolas Eckerson, Ben Hartman, Amelia Kohli, Victoria Korth, Carol McMahon, Lore McSpadden, Christina Mortellaro, David Ruekberg, Ryan Shepard, Jo Toriseva, Almeta Whitis, and members of We All Write, a writing collective of dynamic black women. The afternoon and evening will celebrate our literary community with a sharing of poetry, food, and drink.

Schedule of Readers


Amelia Kohli is a recent transplant to Rochester, where she works as a legal services attorney and is a member of the W&B young professionals writing group, “Writers, Ink.” Prior to arriving in Rochester, she traveled the East Coast, living in such diverse places as the suburbs of Atlanta, Providence, and Buffalo. When she is not working or writing poetry, Amelia enjoys kickboxing, board games, singing along with her car radio at top volume, and coming up with names for dogs she does not have.

Christina Mortellaro is a poet born and raised in Batavia, New York. She believes that strong writing can transform any small moment into a memorable image and story. Additionally, Christina’s writing explores how gender, sexuality, and other identity-markers inform one’s experience. In her poetry, she strives to explore these aspects through the interplay of language and space on the page. When Christina is not writing, she is an advocate for nonviolent education and youth leadership through her job and various community leadership roles. This summer, Christina is excited to be moving to Rochester to officially join their literary community.
J.R. Toriseva‘s latest writing appears in Salt Hill, and The North American Review. Her website is
Almeta Whitis

Ben Hartman
Nicholas Eckerson

Carol McMahon is a writer, reader, runner, and rower. She has a chapbook, On Any Given Day, published by FootHills Press and some poetry currently, or soon to appear, in places like Prodigal, Claudius Speaks,The Wild Word, The Ekphrastic Review, Clockhouse and IthacaLit. She has an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop but currently spends most of her time with 11-year-olds.

Ryan Shepard is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. His work has appeared in Donut Factory and The Pitkin Review. He lives in Brighton with his wife and two dogs, all of them sources of inspiration.

Victoria KorthKorth’s chapbook, Cord Color, was released from Finishing Line Press in 2015. Poems have appeared in diverse publications, including Tar River Poetry, Ithacalit, Pirene’s Fountain, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cold Mountain Review, Barrow Street and elsewhere. She has twice been longlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her full-length manuscript, Leaves and Senses, was a finalist for the May Swenson Award in 2015 and semifinalist for the Able Muse First Book Award in 2016. She holds an MA in English/Creative Writing from SUNY Brockport and is a current MFA student at Warren Wilson College.

Lore McSpaddenis a poet, powerlifter, and strength coach who currently lives in Rochester, NY. Their poems have appeared in Thema Literary Journal, Gandy Dancer, and the American Intercultural Magazine, and they have set national records in the WNPF for back squat, bench press, deadlift, and powerlifting total. These seemingly disparate pursuits of words and brute strength are united in the emphasis they both place on focused attention and unapologetic ferocity.

David Ruekberg: One of David Ruekberg’s earliest writing projects was a comic strip version of his father’s stories of Snicklefritz, the Palomino pony. He has taught English at Hilton High School since 1992, and before that in Colorado Springs and Amenia, NY. He received his MFA from Warren Wilson College, and enjoys nature, meditation, and other forms of quiet. He has poems published in 88, Barrow Street, Mudfish, North American Review, Yankee, and elsewhere. He co-hosts ecstatic dances at Tru Yoga once a month, and is married to the storyteller Leah McKellips Ruekberg.

Maxim Backer is a queer poet and spoken word artist from Rochester, NY. They teach English and Women’s Studies at St. John Fisher College and is an assistant poetry editor for the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review. Their work has most recently been published in Plentitude, Hearts Beating: A Zine Project Honouring Women, Provacateur, The Finger, and the literary anthology, Off the Rocks. Maxim was a a 2012 Lambda Fellow in Poetry.


We all Write
Banke Awopetu-McCullough ( is committed to telling stories that reflect the beautiful struggle of Black life.

Selena Cochran is a poet, orator, encourager and founder of where she weaves her love of poetry and prose with soul stirring words of affirmation that “hug, heal, empower and encourage” others.

Kristen Gentry, originally from Louisville, Kentucky serves as SUNY Geneseo’s Director of Creative Writing and is currently completing Mama Said, a collection of linked short stories that explore mother-daughter relationships strained by the mothers’ drug addictions.

Tokeya C. Graham ( is a word wrangling warrior woman who wears many hats: educator, activist, poet, goddess.

Reenah Oshun Golden ( is an award-winning international traveling wordmaker, educator, and artivist who believes in the power of the spoken word to inspire, challenge, inspire, and save lives.

Lu Highsmith, a Rochester, NY native, is a writer, publisher, promoter, and spoken artist who has chosen to exhibit her talents as a reflection of her passion for spirituality, sensuality, and social consciousness.

If you would like to make a request for any special accommodation, please email us at at least 7 days prior to the event.