Spring Writes is an annual program of Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County

Spring Writes Schedule

Register Now for upcoming free writing workshops!

Scroll Down for November's recorded panels, readings, and more!



Workshop - Tues, February 23

6:30 - 8:00pm
Life's A Joke: Find the Funny, a Joke Writing Workshop

Kenneth McLaurin will lead a workshop that will explore creating comedy and performing during a pandemic. It will cover what makes us laugh, why comedy is important now, and of course we are going to write some jokes!  We'll talk how jokes work, basic joke structure and writing techniques, and basic techniques to maintain audience engagement. 

Zoom #15: Life's a Joke: Register HERE

Workshop -  Thurs, March 11

6:30 - 8:00pm
The Art of Fear: How Authors Create Riveting Experiences through Suspence and Terror

C.W. Briar will lead this free workshop where participants will discuss the ways that authors craft a text to create an edge-of-your-seat experience. It will include a discussion on the different kinds of fearful experiences that stories deliver: terror, horror, and thrillers.

Zoom #16: The Art of Fear: Register HERE

Workshop - Thursday, March 18

6:30 - 8:00pm
Emily Writes Back: Letting Loose Your Inner Advice Columnist/Essayist

In this fun reading/workshop combo, participants will be introduced to the letter and advice column as art forms through a reading from several of the greats, including Emily Writes Back, written by Emily Sanders Hopkins. Then they will be prompted to write their own advice responses to written questions/problems in a series of short writing exercises. Participants will have a chance to share their work. 

The event tackles three perennial writer issues: 1) What inspires us to write? 2) Who is my real audience? 3) What tricks/magic can I use to unleash my voice and ideas? 

If the essay form is essentially an open letter, then it’s no surprise that letters written directly to someone real, someone who has described a problem or otherwise sought a reply, would make for satisfying essays. But do we have permission also to write even if we're not helping or replying to anyone? The workshop will also include an exercise where we'll use advice/letters as inspiration for a non-letter/advice piece of writing.

Zoom #17: Emily Writes Back HERE

Workshop - Thursday, April 15

6:30 - 8:00pm
Un-still and Un-present: Un-restricting the Universe Within

We are natural time travelers, reliving the past in ways that can keep us whole - powering-up for the future in ways that give us hope. Being still and being present are great states of existence. But, be assured, being un-still and un-present are valuable, emotionally strengthening parts of the way our minds and hearts work.  Peaches Gillette opens a warm, embracing writing space that welcomes every emotion and every experience from any point in your life.  In this guided writing workshop, you are encouraged to "not be present, to "not be still," but to take off to places past, present or imagined, that are meaningful to you.

Zoom #18: Un-still and Un-Present Registration HERE


November Taped Events!

Reading: Writing the Memoir – The Personal is Always the Political

A reading by Nancy Bereano and Helena Maria Viramontes, with Susan Currie's work read by Anne Mazer. The reading will begin with a brief introduction about the relevance of memoir in contemporary literature, followed by three readings, and will conclude with a discussion about memior among the writers.

Watch Event Here


Panel: Code-switching: Exploring Multilingualism in Writing and Literature

A natural product of bilingual and multilingual language use, code-switching is the movement between two or more languages in the context of conversation and text. CULTURA presents a panel discussion to explore the use of code-switching in literature, its significance and its complexities. Panelists include Ella Diaz, Ariel Estrella, and Jasmine Jay, with moderator Krystall Escobedo.

Watch Event Here


Readings: Motherhood is A Joke

If life is ripe with comedic tension, motherhood is dripping with it. All too often isolated, overwhelming, and mind-numbingly repetitive, motherhood somehow also comes with ironic crazy cliff-hangers and stranger-than-fiction calamities. Since November 2019, a diverse group of local mothers met for regular writing workshops giving voice to the mutterings inside their heads such as: "My life is a sick joke" or "Tell me this will all be funny someday." The end result, a live comedy showcase on the Kitchen Theater stage, was sold out — but cancelled due to the pandemic. At Spring Writes, a subset of the group will perform their acts live. The performance will be followed by a Q&A with program facilitators: Yael Saar, Shira Evergreen, and Alison Fromme. In December, a film featuring behind the scenes moments and comedic performances will be released for Spring Writes audience members. Funded in part by a generous grant from the Community Arts Partnership, Motherhood is a Joke is a collaboration between the Kitchen Theater and Mama's Comfort Camp Support Network. Contains mature themes.

Watch Event Here

Panel: Total Submission: Understanding the Kinks and Quirks of Literary Magazines

One of the first places a writer can find an audience for their work is through literary magazines. But with so many venues to choose from and so much competition out there, understanding what lit mags are looking for can often be confusing. In this panel, Heather Bartlett, Kathryn Henion, and Barrett Bowlin -- three multi-genre writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, who have each been published in a wide variety of journals -- will talk about submissions, slush piles, serial rights, and how best to prepare your work for consideration.

Watch Event Here


Event/Performance: Three Seasoned Wild Women Speak

Yvonne Fisher, Leeny Sack, two elder, outsider, subversive, edgy, queer/feminist, irreverent, baba/babes, will read old and new work, prose/poems, (kinda) rap, and convey personal women's wisdom and foolery. Heather Boob will accompany with song on guitar.

Watch Event Here


Performance: Othello in Black and White

This is a reading to help us prepare to shoot a series of short films, "Shakespeare in Five Pages," which will take individual scenes from the plays and cast and stage them in unconventional ways. We will read selections from several of the plays, including "Hamlet" and "The Tempest." Our centerpiece will be "Othello in Black and White," which will be the same exact scene from "Othello" read twice, once with a white actor (Chris Holmes) playing Othello and a black actor (Kenneth McLaurin) playing Iago, and then the same scene read again with those roles reversed.

Watch Event Here


Reading: The Thursdays Read

“The Thursdays” writing group has been writing and sharing their work with each other for years. Three members, Mara Alper, Barbara Anger, Rob Sullivan are ready to step out and share their funniest and deepest moments. It’s an eclectic group made up of playwrights, published poets and writers, a filmmaker, a songwriter and just good storytellers. The reading will be a combination of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Some in the group have participated in other readings and performances both in Ithaca and places beyond. Now they want to do it as a group, The Thursdays read.

Watch Event Here


Reading/Panel: Crafting the Life In Progress

In this cross between a panel and a themed reading, local authors Eleanor Henderson, Nick Kowalczyk, and Joan Marcus read from their book-length memoirs-in-progress and speak to the challenges of shaping one’s life on the page. Authors will touch on, among other things, the difficulties posed by working with raw and/or recent personal material and structuring a story that may not yet have reached its conclusion. Each author will read from work in progress and discuss writing processes and challenges for approximately 10-15 minutes, after which a moderator will facilitate further discussion.

Watch Event Here


Reading: Life’s A Joke: A reading to Make You Laugh - If it Doesn’t Make You Cry

Featuring Melanie Conroy-Goldman, Kenneth McLaurin, Jennifer Savran Kelly, Bob Proehl, and Chris Holmes.

Watch Event Here


Panel: How Books Make a Person: On the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Reading to Write

One definition of a writer is someone who reads in search of the book she needs until finally she just decides to produce it herself. This panel will explore the creative relationship between reading and writing. Amy Reading, Leslie Daniels, Josh Swiller, and Sorayya Khan will talk about what books convinced them they could do this thing called writing, what they chase when they read and write, whether or not they've succeeded in writing the book they wish they could read, and whether reading is always beneficial to their writing practices. Bring a pen and paper to write down some of the many book recommendations that will get tossed around.

Watch Event Here


Reading: Life Studies

Mary Roberts, Yvonne Fisher, and Rob Sullivan will read works of poetry, fiction, and memoir about various facets of life, including memory, the environment, and loss.  The three writers have written together in Zee Zahava's writing group for many years.

Watch Event Here


Panel: Succeeding in an Alternate Universe: Pros and Cons of Independent Presses and Self Publishing

A panel of poets and literary fiction writers--whose publishing experience ranges from major trade publishers to independent presses to self-publishing--explore the pros and cons of each approach. This panel will discuss strategies for determining which avenue is best suited for a project, advice for approaching small presses, and tips for promoting a work following publication. Members of the panel include: Alice Lichtenstein, Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist; Ginnah Howard, award-winning novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer; Ithaca poet, Roger Hecht; and novelist and Professor at SUNY Oneonta, George Hovis.

Watch Event Here


Reading/Event: Bob Proehl in Conversation with Thom Dunn

Author Bob Proehl reads from his new novel and talks about superpowers, xenophobia and who's the best X-Men character with playwright and musician Thom Dunn.

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Of Course: An Exploration

The word "course" has many definitions, in many contexts, all in some way illustrating change, of course! In this event, local writer Mary Lorson has created and collected short pieces exploring this concept in a panoply of its definitions, interpretations, and forms. One segment is a group exercise completing the sentence, "Of Course....." Join in and explore the possibilities. With Jon Frankel and other local writers.

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Group Reading: Writing Across Genres and Borders

This group reading will feature the work of Roger Hecht (poetry), Peter Fortunato (poetry), Brian Arnold (creative non-fiction), Jaime Warburton (poetry or creative non-fiction), Saviana Stanescu (poetry and monologues), and Marina Delaney (fiction).

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Reading: Dr. Nia Nunn presents Youth Poems

Dr. Nia Nunn has worked with area youth (including college students) in the creation of poems around the themes of "Where I'm From" and "For Me People." She will present a video of the youth reading their work.

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Reading: Concretizing the Double-Unreal: Dream-like Scenes in Fiction

The fundamental tenet of fiction is its unreality and yet we contend that dream-like sequences -- the 'double unreal' if you will -- can easily be the most engaging writing.  In this reading by Hardy Griffin, Melanie Bush, Judith Pratt, Matt Gordon, and Susanna Drbal, we intend to demonstrate just how captivating the fantastic in fiction can be.

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Performance: Senior Troupe of Lifelong presents: Movies, stories from our lives

The Senior Troupe of Lifelong has been performing stories from our lives for more than 20 years. This year the troupe picked the theme of movies and we invite you to see our video of the troupe reading their stories with fun clips from their chosen movies. After the video, we will have a live talkback with troupe members. This project is partially supported by a grant from the Community Arts Partnership.

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Group Reading: Poetry, Prose and Poe

This group reading will feature a film by Mickie Quinn, "Lenore", based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, Andy Sanchez (poetry), Kate Doyle (prose), Gwen Davis-Feldman (poetry), and Lizzie Frank (prose). 

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Performance: Feasting the Sea-God: Stories from The Odyssey

Join storyteller Jay Leeming for a feast of Odyssean stories involving angry sea-gods, giant cannibals, floating cities and the witch who holds the keys to the wisdom of the underworld. Learn how the homesick warrior within all of us can be schooled by magic, betrayal and the beautiful limits of this life until he is wise enough to return to the island of Ithaca where his heart is truly at home. Music and song will be woven into the telliing.

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Reading: Ithaca College Writing Students' Senior Project Showcase

Senior Writing majors from Ithaca College read excerpts from their final projects, which are works pursued independently while under the guidance of professor mentors. The event will cut across genres, including pieces from poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.