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The Power of Grants – Margit Brazda Poirier

Have you ever wondered how to find and get grants for charities, nonprofits, and schools? Grant funding is a critical piece that helps these organizations not only survive, but thrive.

Margit Brazda Poirier,, a nationally certified grant professional (GPC) and Owner/Founder of Grants4Good LLC, created the company in 2009 to help nonprofits and businesses find and get grants. Margit has written and received numerous grants from federal, state, foundation, and corporate sources – and she has the unique perspective of understanding both grant seeking and grant making, given her experience leading a prominent New York foundation.  In addition to grant development, Margit’s strengths include technical writing, board facilitation, project management, and specialized training for boards and staff. Margit is a nationally published author and frequent speaker on all aspects of grant development. Her passion is teaching others about the power of grants so that they may turn their ideas into reality.

Watch these short clips (some footage filmed right at Writers & Books!)  & consider learning more about grant research and writing this Spring with “Introduction to Grant Writing” workshop on April 1:

  1. Grant Training Sessions for Your Organization
  2. The Power of Grants
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A Metaphor and Movement Montage for Life! by Almeta Whitis

We are ALL on a sacred journey of healing and wholeness, liberation and redemption, hardship and grace. And the ideas we share to create stories are the threads of darkness and light that weave the tapestry of our lives and the lives of others for generations to come.

“How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whether read or spoken, a story is an efficacious means to access unconscious societal myths, which influence our lives, our culture – and our world. We will learn and use specific, universal archetypes to create a ritual comprised of mini-stories in ways that are compelling, engaging, life- enhancing and more enjoyable.

The so-called “age of Trump” offers us the opportunity to take on basic rights and embrace the congruent responsibilities of using story to heal societal divisions by blending art and ceremony. Then we can move this meld of creative conversation and unity into becoming a more interconnected community.

Our intention is to create a main story and supporting mini-stories, to create a sustainable model for moving beyond hostile thoughts and actions, originating in F.E.A.R. — or — false experiences appearing real and its ensuing emotional chaos. When we engage in open-ended conversation, we plant the seeds of unity. This moves us toward embracing more cordial, healthy behaviors and encourages us to seek out and maintain more beneficial relationships. Today our greatest challenge is to see the good in each other and discover creative ways to realize a vision of peace through storytelling. Your voice is important, so please use it!

As each of us is “subjected to forces that test ourselves in order to bring about change”, we will discover that all art forms, including storytelling, are indeed strong enough and creative enough and flexible enough, to facilitate our life journey together during this present period of discord, conflict and disagreement. We can and will move forward — together — into a new era of understanding, acceptance and vibrant discovery – truly a time of creativity and harmony.

A Sample Discussion Topic: “The Hero and Heroine” Nietzsche defined heroism as “simultaneously going out to meet your highest suffering and your highest hope.” Share your thoughts and more importantly, your feelings about this definition. Questions to consider: What makes a person heroic? What makes you heroic? Why is being heroic or taking a heroic stand or action important today?

Sign up for Almeta’s workshop here:


Almeta Whitis is a storyteller, actress, poet, writer and teaching artist who has taught elementary, middle and high school in NYS and Arizona. A former assistant professor of Theater at SUNY Brockport, in 1997, she received their “Distinguished Scholar Public Service Award”. In 1995, Phi Delta Kappa awarded her “Lay Educator of the Year” by unanimous decision. As Chair of ALLOFUS Art Workshop’s Dance Department, a MAG and UR outreach program, she expanded a Saturday class of eight children to a year-round program serving over 450 children and adults. In 2000, National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation awarded her “Most Skilled and Experienced Community Artist”-Artists and Communities: America Creates for the Millennium. In 1993, Governor Mario Cuomo awarded her the “Decade of the Child Award” for “her valuable, sensitive work with the children and families of New York State”.


(Photo: Jeff Hamson)

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A guy walks into a bar… By Bob Holzwarth

We are all born with a sense of humor.  Many of us have a knack for making our friends, family and coworkers laugh.  Generally that knack does not translate directly to the stage.  But what if… what if you could take that part of your persona and those stories to a group of strangers and make them laugh just as hard?  The standup comedy workshop at Writers & Books is a class for anyone who’s ever thought about taking that journey from the lunch room to the stage.  

If you’re like me, your first attempt at writing standup might be a dismal attempt at mimicking the types of jokes you’ve grown up with. A guy walks into a bar with a duck on his head.  A traveling salesman’s car breaks down. Knock knock. Who’s there? Forget. Forget who? Forget about what you think a joke is.  A joke is really anything that can reliably cause a group of strangers to laugh on cue. And you don’t have to contrive stories to make that happen.  Your life experience presents plenty of fodder for jokes.  Jokes that will be original, because they come from your life, and no one else has ever had your particular life experience, your unique perspective, your bizarre take on things.  The key is to take note of the things that strike you as funny, odd, peculiar, or annoying, and then figure out how to present them to an audience in such a way that upon reaching the punch line, you will evoke laugher.  Beautiful, precious, audible laughter.  Getting that laugh on cue, on purpose, pre-meditated, is a feeling like no other.  

The standup comedy workshop is not just for those who dream of being the next Louis C.K. It is equally suited to those who just want to keep people from falling asleep during their next PowerPoint presentation.  In our day to day lives, many of us avoid going for the laugh out of fear of failure. “What if I make a joke and no one laughs?” By exploring standup comedy, we can de-mystify laughter and reduce that risk of failure.  If we learn to use humor effectively, the dry can become engaging. The mundane can become fun. And if it’s what you want, there are stages waiting for you as well!

Bob Holzwarth enjoyed standup comedy from the audience for decades before an instructor finally showed him that he could also participate. This opened up a whole new world for him and he has been performing standup comedy in and around Rochester for over ten years. As an instructor himself now, he has helped many others get a similar start in stand-up.


Enroll in Bob’s upcoming workshop:

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Turning Life into Fiction: An Interview with Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall is the author of Heirlooms (BkMk Press), which was selected by Marge Piercy for the G.S. Sharat Chandra Book Prize. She teaches at the State University of New York in Geneseo, where she holds two Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence—one in teaching and one for her creative work.

Sejal Shah’s stories, essays, and interviews have appeared widely in places such as Brevity, The Huffington Post, the Kenyon Review, and AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle. She teaches at Writers & Books and the University of Rochester, and works as a freelance writer, editor, and writing mentor.


Sejal Shah: What images, ideas, or questions inspired or drove the writing of Heirlooms?

Rachel Hall: I grew up looking at family photo albums and
listening to family stories. I’m lucky that my mother is an excellent
storyteller, as were her adoptive parents, my grandparents. I loved their stories about the war in France, loved hearing them repeated, and in particular the way a new detail might emerge.

At some point I began wondering what was left out or smoothed over or forgotten altogether. I also had questions that couldn’t be answered. We knew so little about my mother’s biological mother, for instance, because she died at twenty-seven, just as the Germans were invading France. In each photo we have of her, she looks very different. My grandmother didn’t talk about her much and when nudged would only say the same few things: she was an excellent seamstress; she was jealous; she could be very erce. In Heirlooms, I was interested in exploring memory, erasure, and loss.

SS: These stories are based in part on family stories. How did you decide to write the book as stories and not creative non fiction essays? And having chosen fiction, what differentiates linked stories from a novel?

RH: Heirlooms is inspired by my family stories and many of the events in the book happened in real life. For instance, the situation in “La Poussette,” in which the neighbor woman refuses to share her bounty, is something that really happened. I don’t know if that woman denounced my family, but someone did and my mother and grandparents had to ee the farm in haste. In my research, I learned that there were two and half million letters of denunciation sent to French prefectures during the Occupation. Many were motivated by jealousy and possessiveness, rather than an affinity with the Vichy racial laws.

Fiction allows me to wed what happened with my research and try to understand why someone might act as they did. I can’t know what the neighbor woman thought or felt, but fiction allows me to step into the shoes of these characters, to invent and imagine and suppose. I think fiction brings the reader closer to the events than creative nonfiction can. I guess, too, I wanted to stay out of the stories in a way I didn’t think CNF would allow. And of course, there are stories in the collection, which are more invented than others, which wouldn’t have been possible with CNF. In “A Handbook of American Idiom,” for instance, I allow the Latours to get rich from the shampoo Jean brews in his basement. The real life situation made for less compelling—and believable!— fiction.

As far as stories versus novel, there are several answers. I love that linked stories allow me to slip into a number of different character’s perspectives and points-of-view. I also appreciate that with stories, I can make leaps in time between events. Remember, too, that I was inspired by family photo albums, and I think the story form is true to that inspiration, providing glimpses into lives from different angles and at different times. But also, honestly, it was less daunting for me to think in terms of stories rather than a novel. As soon as I wrote the second story, I thought of this project as a linked story collection—but my agent called it a novel. It does move chronologically, too, like a novel.

SS: How important was research in the writing of this book and how did you research what you needed to know or learn?

RH: My grandmother was a painter, and the stories she told me were like her art—impressionistic, vivid, colorful. From her, I got a sense of how she felt during the war but I didn’t always get information about how things worked. For instance, she always told us that as soon as she heard that Jews were to register with the City Hall, she took my mother—a toddler at the time—and fled for the Unoccupied Zone. I needed to research to nd out what sorts of papers were necessary for her to do this. I had to consult maps a lot, too. I’m fortunate that my mother, who was a child at the time of the war, has since studied France during the Occupation and could recommend books and supply information too. She’s also fluent in French and helped translate letters and papers.

I found journals from the war years to be especially helpful. Two in particular that were critical for this project were The Journal of Hélène Berr and Agnès Humbert’s Résistance: A Woman’s Journal of Struggle and De ance in Occupied France, in which Humbert writes that she began her Resistance work after Paris fell to the Germans out of a need to speak with like-minded people. This was an explanation for risking one’s life, as she and others did, that I found utterly convincing. I’m not a big risk-taker, but I’d have a hard time not being able to speak my mind. Imagine if we couldn’t commiserate with friends about Trump, for instance.

An extended version of this interview appeared on the Kenyon Review blog here