Writers & Books Celebrates 19th year of Community Reads Program

Rochester NY: Last week, Writers & Books wrapped up the nineteenth year of its annual community reading program, Rochester Reads. This year the organization hosted Omar El Akkad, author of the award-winning novel American War. El Akkad’s residency in Rochester included 5 days of events, readings, book signings, and lectures. El Akkad visited various locations in Rochester and the Finger Lakes area including libraries (Central, Penfield, Wood, Greece), college campuses (MCC, FLCC, Geneseo, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College), high schools (SOTA), a senior living center (Valley Manor), and the Monroe Correctional Facility. This year more than 1100 people attended these readings.

 

American War is a powerful and surprisingly prescient novel about a second US Civil War in the late 21st century. After climate change led to political upheaval and a decimation of the population, a plague is unleashed and further devastates the country’s population. One family is caught in the middle of the divided regions and conflicted alliances and the effects of this fractured country on a young girl has consequences for generations.

 

This is a narrative that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself. It is a story of ruin, of revenge, of division—but also a lesson in empathy, connection, and the ties that can either bind or break us.

 

“This year’s program offered an important novel that leaves an indelible impression on readers. And the myriad audiences who came out to see the author in person were treated to a thoughtful, engaging, wide-ranging conversation—and that community engagement is at the core of this program,” said Karen vanMeenen, Coordinator of Rochester Reads.

 

Copies of American War are on sale in the Writers & Books bookstore. Video is available of Omar El Akkad speaking at both Penfield Library and Wood Library.

 

Writers & Books is Rochester’s nationally renowned non-profit literary center located at 740 University Avenue, in the heart of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. In 2001, Writers & Books initiated the Rochester Reads program. The program seeks to encourage people to connect to others in our community through reading and discussion, and through the shared experience of literature. Each year Writers & Books selects one book for our community to explore together, leading to a residency by the author.

 

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Local Poet Craig Morgan Teicher to Share Poetry From Latest Award-Winning Book

Writers & Books hosts award-winning local poet in celebration of National Poetry Month

Rochester NY: Join us on Friday, April 12th at 7:00 PM to hear Craig Morgan Teicher share poetry from his latest award-winning poetry book as well as previous publications. This event is $3 for members and $6 for the general public and takes place at Writers & Books on 740 University Avenue, Rochester, NY.

Craig Morgan Teicher received an MFA from Columbia University in 2005. He is the author of The Trembling Answers (BOA Editions, 2017), winner of the 2018 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, To Keep Love Blurry (BOA Editions, 2012), Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems (Center for Literary Publishing, 2008), and Cradle Book (BOA Editions, 2010), a collection of stories and fables.

 

Teicher is a literary critic, and his essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications. He teaches at The New School and New York University and lives in New Jersey with his wife, the poet Brenda Shaughnessy, and their children. More information on Teicher and praise for his work can be found on his website here.

April is national poetry month and Writers & Books is pleased to be hosting several award-winning poets and poetry events over the course of the month. This event follows the poetry and music performance by Ad Hoc Music at Writers & Books on April 11th at 7 PM titled Words and Music, Music and Words.

Media questions can be directed to Chris Fanning at chrisf@wab.org

Alison Meyers named new Executive Director of Writers & Books

Rochester NY, April 2019: Bruce Gianniny, president of Writers & Books Board of Directors, announced that after a nationwide search, the Rochester-based literary center has named Alison Meyers as its next executive director.

“We are excited to begin working with Alison Meyers in mid May, when she will be moving to Rochester,” said Gianniny. “We are confident Alison has the skills and experience to build programs at both our University Avenue location and the Gell retreat in the Bristol Hills.”

Meyers is a veteran nonprofit leader, currently working as a literary arts consultant. From 2006-2016, she was executive director of Cave Canem Foundation in Brooklyn, N.Y., the nation’s pre-eminent organization for African American poets and poetry. She also has served as director of development at the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in New York City, poetry director and director of marketing at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn., and general manager of the Oberlin (Ohio) Consumers Co-op.

“I’m thrilled to join the committed Writers & Books team, and look forward to building on an inspirational legacy bequeathed by founding director Joe Flaherty,” said Meyers “I look forward to partnering with the organization’s terrific staff, board of directors, and volunteers; engaging with Rochester’s rich history and diverse communities; and helping advance the critical role literature has to play, regionally and nationally, in our complicated times.”

Meyers is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and fiction writer, whose work appears in journals, in the anthology Gathered Light: The Poetry of Joni Mitchell’s Songs (Three O’Clock Press), and at http://www.alisonmeyers.com. For many years, she owned and managed Everyday Books & Café, a Connecticut-based independant bookstore.

“Choosing a new leader for an organization is a difficult but energizing task,” said Flaherty, who returned to the organization in November to serve as interim director. “The selection process must take into account both the history and culture of the organization as well as the direction that the organization would like to go.

Flaherty adds “Alison’s extensive experience in the non-profit literary world, and her obvious passion for promoting reading and writing within a community setting, allowed us to know that we had found the ideal individual to confidently lead Writers & Books into the next exciting chapter in our role as Rochester’s world-class literary center.”

For further information, or to set up an interview contact: Chris Fanning, Director of Communications at 585.473.2590 ext 104 or email at chrisf@wab.org

 

(photo credit is Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

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ROC the SONNET

Writers & Books and The Rochester Chapter of the English Speaking Union invite you to participate in:

ROC the SONNET

Sonnet Composition Challenge for High School Students and Adults

!!! $100 First Place Prize !!!

What: A writing challenge in which participants compose an original sonnet and submit it for judging. The challenge rules involve using the Shakespearean sonnet format. Why: Shakespeare’s sonnets are poetic masterpieces addressing themes of love, time, mortality, jealousy, and rivalry among others. They are structured as an argument where the conclusion is summarized in the final two lines. Students are encouraged to master this form to become better writers and to study some of the finest examples of Western literature. As part of the Rochester Shakespeare Competition, students learn to recite these timeless works. Cash prizes are awarded.

 

Who: Open to Rochester area high school students and, in a separate category, to adults. Students are asked to identify a teacher/advisor. A donation is suggested for adult entries. When: Submission deadline is January 15th 2019. Winners will be announced at the Rochester Shakespeare Competition, part of the National Shakespeare Competition, to be held on March 2nd , 2019 at the University of Rochester. How: Details and rules for the challenge on may be found at: www.esuus.org/Rochester. Online submissions only. Send to: submissions@wab.org Contact: Writers & Books (585) 473-2590 for more information

Details and rules on preceeding below.

Format:

1) Three of five hallmarks of the Shakespearean sonnet form need to be included in the submission, see below “Hallmarks”.

2)  Submissions are electronic only (no written submissions accepted)

3) The work must be original and not previously published. Ideally, submissions should be new works, created on or after Sept 2018.

 

Hallmarks (three of five need to be included):

1) Length of 14 lines.

2)  Three quatrains (quatrain=four lines) followed by a couplet (=2 lines).

3)  Verse of iambic pentameter. This is a verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable: for example, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.

4)  Rhyming scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.

5)  Thematic structure: A problem is presented in quatrains and resolved in the couplet. Example: Beauty is frail and transient (problem) but can be everlasting when translated into writing (resolution).

 

Examples:

1) Any of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. A great example, Sonnet #18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.

For high school student submissions:

  1. Students need to identify a teacher who can guide and assist them. 2. Students need to include the teacher’s name and contact information (phone number/email) with the submission.

For adult submissions:

  1. Adults are encouraged to make a small donation with their submission (does not apply to college students). Suggested donation is $5 or $10.

 

Rules and Information 

Submission instructions:

1) Include submitter’s full name, address, phone number, and email address.

2)  Students: Include the name of your school (unless home schooled), your teacher’s name, teacher’s phone number and email address.

3)  Adults: Consider making a donation using the Writers & Books website at www.wab.org/give-to-wab/ . Include “Sonnet Challenge” in the “notes about the gift” section if you do.

4) Send the submission and information to submissions@wab.org. Please use the subject line “Roc the Sonnet submission”. No written submissions will be accepted.

 

Award Categories:

1) All submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges which will include a poet, a Shakesepeare scholar, and a high school teacher.

2) The overall winners of the high school and adult categories will receive a $100 cash prize.

3) Runners up in each category will receive gifts. The number of runners up will be determined by the overall number of submissions.

Announcement of winners:

1) Winners will be contacted in mid-February.

2) Winners, including runners up, will be announced at the Rochester Shakespeare Competition for high school students, a regional event for the National Shakespeare Competition, scheduled for March 2nd at the University of Rochester. Winning submissions will be printed in the program for the competition.

 

Questions

Contact Sally Bittner Bonn at Writers & Books for more information at (585) 473-2590 or email sallyb@wab.org.

Writers & Books Celebrates the Past and Looks Toward the Future

Joe Flaherty returns as Interim Director as Kyle Semmel departs organization

 

Rochester NY: After 3 years of moving Writers & Books towards the next phase of the organization’s mission, Executive Director Kyle Semmel will be stepping down from his position in October. Writers & Books founder Joe Flaherty will return as Interim Director while a Selection Committee begins a nationwide search for a new Executive Director.

 

“We appreciate Kyle’s work with Writers & Books, including his leadership in developing innovative programming such as the Ladder Literary Conference,” said Trevor Harrison, president of Writers & Books’ Board of Directors. “After a thoughtful and thorough process, Kyle and the Board mutually agreed that this course of action would be in the best interest of all parties.”

 

Since coming on as ED in 2016, Semmel has made strides to move the organization forward, inline with Flaherty’s original mission: Bringing words and people together in the Rochester community. Semmel achieved this by crafting create new workshops & programs, branching out into the community through partnerships with organizations like BOA Editions, Open Letter Books, the Black Authors Expo, and more, and last June, launching a local literary conference in downtown Rochester, The Ladder.

 

“I’m proud of what Writers & Books has accomplished during the past few years, but for me, personally, it’s time for a change,” said Semmel. “I have truly enjoyed my time working with the amazing staff, our instructors, and everyone taking our classes. Rochester has such a strong, vibrant writing community and I’m excited to participate in a different way.”

 

Incoming Board President Bruce Gianniny will be forming the Selection Committee tasked with finding the next Executive Director while working closely with Flaherty and the Writers & Books staff to formulate an efficient and successful search.

 

“I want to thank the Board for having the confidence in me to come back and lead this organization on an interim basis,” said Flaherty. “And I want to thank Kyle for leaving Writers & Books in a place where I can continue the trajectory he has set.”

 

Writers & Books, Rochester’s literary center, will continue to operate as usual, offering workshops on reading and writing, bringing visiting authors in for readings & book signings, and producing quality programming to serve the Rochester literary community.

 

Media questions can be directed to Chris Fanning at chrisf@wab.org

 

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