For poets, writers and readers, the Hudson Valley marries the best of both worlds: the proximity of New York City’s fertile cultural life and the virtues of the country sojourn, from uplifting natural beauty to a laid-back pace that leaves time to contemplate and write. The sophistication of local audiences contributes to the popularity of the Woodstock Writers’ Festival, the presence of literary publishers such as Barrytown’s Station Hill Press and the array of poetry and spoken-word readings throughout the region.
Jackie Kellachan, proprietor of the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, is a booster of the reading and writing community who sponsors several readings a month at her shop. Regarding the significance of these events, she says, “The conversations that artists create around their work can sometimes be different from, and as important as, the books themselves. We want our community to be able to participate in those conversations.”
Here are a number of reading series active this fall. Whether you’re looking for open mics, well-established local writers (Abigail Thomas, Beverly D’Onofrio) or celebrity authors (David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman), something on this list will hit the literary spot. Although many series have regular schedules, always check websites in case changes have occurred. All events are free unless otherwise noted.
Shivastan Poetry Ashram
The Shivastan Poetry Ashram is a bookshop, art gallery and grassroots cooperative. Gatherings around a sunset bonfire include a poetry open mic and (usually) a vegetarian potluck. The organizer is poet Shiv Mirabito, whose small press, Shivastan, has published poetry chapbooks on handmade paper in Nepal since 1997, printing work by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Janine Pommy Vega and others; 6 Hillcrest Avenue, (845) 679-8777, Facebook page.
- Friday, September 26, 6-9 p.m.: poet James LaMontagne memorial gathering and reading.
- Saturday, September 27, 6-9 p.m.: 100,000 Poets for Change, with Andy Clausen, Pamela Twining, Christian Ortega, open mic.
- Saturday, October 11, 6-9 p.m.: Indigenous People’s Day weekend: Native American-themed poetry open mic.
- Saturday, October 25, 6-9 p.m.: Picasso’s Birthday: Surrealism-themed poetry open mic.
- Saturday, November 1, 6-9 p.m.: Day of the Dead: Gothic-themed poetry open mic.
The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook is a true community bookstore with an eclectic selection and a literary bent. Author readings and book-signings, as well as two monthly reading series, are held in the store’s upstairs annex; 29 Tinker Street, (845) 679-8000, www.goldennotebook.com; or sometimes at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, across the street; 34 Tinker Street.
- Friday, September 19, 6:30 p.m.: James Howard Kunstler, A History of the Future, the third World Made by Hand novel; Kleinert/James Center.
- Tuesday, September 23, 6 p.m.: Lindsay Hill, Sea of Hooks, winner of the 2014 PEN Center USA Fiction Award; bookstore.
- Saturday, September 27, 6:30 p.m.: Ed Sanders, A Book of Glyphs; Kleinert/James Center.
- Saturday, October 11, 6:30 p.m.: Clark Strand, Waking the Buddha; Kleinert/James Center.
Woodstock Poetry Society
The Woodstock Poetry Society was founded in 1996 by Harold Levitt and Bob Wright, with the goal of bringing together poets and appreciative audiences. The group is now headed by poet/actor Phillip Levine. Readings take place on the second Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Golden Notebook at 29 Tinker Street.
- Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.: Richard Loranger and Teresa Costa, open mic.
- September 8 and December 13: to be announced.
Glaring Omissions, founded in 1990, is a writing critique group with members who work in multiple genres, from mystery to memoir to literary fiction. Readings are held on the second Sunday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Golden Notebook at 29 Tinker Street; (845) 688-1339, Facebook page.
- Sunday, September 14, 4 p.m.: Karol Nielsen, author of Black Elephants, Scott Anderson, Violet Snow.
- Sunday, October 12, 4 p.m.: Deborah Emin, author of Scags at 7 and Scags at 18, Nancy Kline, Suzanne Bennett.
- Sunday, November 9, 4 p.m.: Panel discussion: “To Be Self-Published or Not to Be Self-Published” with editor/author/publisher Robert Wyatt, author Laurie Boris, PR consultant Simona David; moderated by Violet Snow; Woodstock Christian Science Church, 85 Tinker Street.
Café Mezzaluna, described as a bistro Latino, presents a Writers’ Night on second Fridays at 7 p.m., with a featured reader and an open mic. Dinner is served from 5 p.m.; 626 Route 212, (845) 246-5306, www.cafemezzaluna.com.
Story Slams are hosted by Woodstock Writers’ Festival executive director/author Martha Frankel and writer/musician Kris Garnier. Contestants deliver a five-minute story on a specified topic, with winners guaranteed a spot at next year’s Festival slam. Held on second Wednesdays, currently at Nevessa Production, 18 Artist Lane, Saugerties; $10 admission. Go to https://storyslams.com to confirm location, check out the next topic or sign up to tell your story.
- Wednesday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.: “Weathering the Storm,” location to be announced.
- Wednesday, November 12, 7:30 p.m.: Topic and location to be announced.
Inquiring Mind Bookstore
Inquiring Mind Bookstore, sister to a similar shop in New Paltz, presents readings by local authors; corner of Main and Partition Streets, (845) 246-5775, www.inquiringbooks.com.
- Wednesday, September 24, 7 p.m.: Storytelling with Janet Carter.
- Saturday, September 27, 6:30 p.m.: Laura Ludwig presents poetry and performance art.