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

May Events

Spring Writes is postponed to a November virtual event.  Dates TBA

This is the list of events before postponement. We hope to preserve as many as possible for November!  

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Day 1: Thursday, April 30


6:30 – 8:30pm @ Marriott, 2nd Floor

Event/Performance: Three Seasoned Wild Women Speak

Yvonne Fisher, Leeny Sack, and Ned Asta, three 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.


Day 2: Friday, May 1


4:00 - 5:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

Workshop: The Art of Fear: How Authors Create Riveting Experiences Through Suspense 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.


4:00 - 5:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Ezra Cornell Reading Room

Reading: Poetry and Prose Open Mic

As a part of Spring Writes Festival, local poets and prose writers will have the opportunity to showcase their work during a free open mic event. This event is open to poets and prose writers of all ages and experience levels.  Registration for writers to read their work begins at 3:30pm in front of the Ezra Cornell Reading Room.


5:30 - 7:00pm @ Buffalo Street Books

Reading: Saltonstall Alumni Poetry Reading with Monica Sok and Ama Codjoe

Join the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts as we welcome back to Ithaca two exceptional poet alums of our residency program who both have newly published works. We will be celebrating the publication of Monica Sok’s first full-length collection of poetry, A Nail the Evening Hangs On, from Copper Canyon Press. Ama Codjoe will be reading from her new chapbook, Blood of the Air, from Northwestern University Press.


5:00 - 6:30pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Performance: Members Only: A Reading by Ithaca’s Most Famous Writing Group

Life's a Joke: a reading to make you laugh - if it doesn't make you cry. Featuring Melanie Conroy-Goldman, Jennifer Savran Kelly, Bob Proehl, Chris Holmes, and Kenneth McLaurin.


6:30 – 8:30pm @ Community School of Music and Arts

Performance: I See You: Short Plays by Ithaca College Students and Teachers

Short Plays by Ithaca College Students & Teachers, curated by Saviana Stanescu and Wendy Dann. Staged Readings followed by a talk-back with the artists. Artists include Aaliyah Warrington, Jada Boggs, Isobel Duncan, and Audrey Lang


Day 3: Saturday, May 2


11:00am - 12:00pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

Performance: Senior Troupe of Lifelong presents: Movies, an intergenerational telling of our stories.

The Senior Troupe of Lifelong presents Living History Theatre, which every season centers on a theme that the troupe picks and features stories from the troupe's lives that are both humorous and serious. Our living history theatre is presented as choral theatre with both soloists and the chorus. This project is partially supported by a grant from the Community Arts Partnership.


11:00am - 12:15pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Reading: Stillwater Magazine: Fine Art Causes a Ripple

In 2019, Stillwater Magazine launched "Fine Art Causes a Ripple," a campaign that sought to ripple the otherwise static artistic pockets at Ithaca College, to inspire a kinetic and creative incubator beyond the pages of the magazine, and to offer a space for all art to thrive, to be witnessed, and to be grappled with. Submissions were solicited with a simple question in mind: How do you use art to disrupt spaces in stasis? In this panel, moderated by Raul Palma, Adam Dee, Mae McDermott, Jackson Short, and Rafael López will read and present their artistic, multi-modal, multi-disciplinary responses.


11:00am - 12:00pm @ Cinemapolis

Performance: Invisible, or The Thousand Shocks. A Reading of a New Play

A performance of Judith Pratt’s new play, Invisible. You look just fine. Three characters, from three different time periods, experience chronic invisible illness. 1890, 1950, 1990, not much changes. Chronic illness makes you a little crazy. Or a lot crazy.  Especially when doctors have no idea what to do for you while the Huckster offers expensive cure-alls, and your friends think you’re faking it. What happens to the engineer who can’t build things? The social butterfly who turns back into a caterpillar? What happens to the dancer who can’t dance? At least 26 million people have an invisible disability.


11:00am - 12:30pm @ Cinemapolis

Reading/Panel/Performance: Exorcising Silent Film Histories: Writing Performance Art Pieces for Silent Films with Live Music for Actors

Patty Zimmermann and Cynthia Henderson will be in conversation to look at the ways in which the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival has worked to write creative nonfiction monologues to bring our programming of silent films/live music for the festival to life.  This started 18 years ago as a way to dispose of programs with historical explanations of these silent films, as we have collaborated over the years with many archives and musicians and shown films from across the globe, many of which are rare prints, such as Northeast Historic Films, the Smithsonian Institution, the Buenos Aires Film Archive, Northeast Historic Films, Kino Lorber, and more. 


12:15 – 1:15pm @ Cinemapolis

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.  


12:30 - 1:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

Workshop: Running Around the Writer's Block

Experienced writer or novice, we all get stuck at some point. In this workshop, Elisabeth Nonas will explore ways to write even when we're not inspired. You will leave with tools to help you silence your inner critic and jump-start, re-start, or simply keep your writing on track.


12:30 - 1:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room West

Workshop: Writing Fantasy Fiction and Poetry

With inspiring guided exercises, Katharyn Howd Machan (longtime professor of Writing at Ithaca College, and the first Poet Laureate of Tompkins County) will lead participants to create new work and/or continue a manuscript already begun, whether it be a short story, a novella, a novel, or a collection of poems. The emphasis will be on channeling knowledge and imagination into creating compelling literary works with significance and resonance.


12:30 - 1:30pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

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.


2:00 - 3:00pm @ Buffalo Street Books

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.


2:00 - 3:00pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Artist Talk: Writing for Resilience

As a visual artist, Jessica Stratton has introduced a variety of methods for incorporating writing into her process and artworks. This artist talk / workshop will look at Jessica’s postcard series, Chronic Illness Memoir, and the family photo album research method inspired by British photographer Jo Spence. Jessica will also share the evolution of her mail art project, resilienceRSVP, a collection of letters written by herself and others detailing their collective stories about perseverance and resilience. Participants will have the opportunity to add their own story to the project. 


2:00 - 3:00pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

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.


2:00 - 3:00pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room West

Workshop: Joke Writing

Kenneth McLaurin will lead a workshop that will cover the basics of writing jokes and performing. It will cover
what makes us laugh, and why jokes work, basic joke structure and writing techniques, and basic techniques to maintain audience engagement.


3:30 - 4:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

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.


3:30 - 4:30pm @ State of the Art Gallery

Reading: The Thursdays Read

The Thursdays are a group of ten writers (Mara Alper, Barbara Anger, Heather Boob, Barbara Cartwright, Sue Crowley, Yvonne Fisher, Susan Lesser, Rob Sullivan, and Aino Waller ) who have been writing and sharing their work with each other for years. They 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.


3:30 – 5:00pm @ Buffalo Street Books

Panel: Changes Quickly Become A Parent: Learning to Write While Raising Kids

Being a parent can change everything about your writing, from what you write to when you write. Join a panel of parent-writers for a discussion of the myriad ways kids impact one’s writing life and how to communicate the sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly aspects of parenting on the page. Topics will range from practical concerns like making and protecting your time to write, to how kids can shape your writing through inspiration or even collaboration!
Presented by the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, panelists include local fiction writers Bob Proehl and Jen Savran Kelly, local essayist Alison Fromme, and Syracuse-based poet Kristofor Minta. Each has spent time writing at Saltonstall – from weekends in the winter to a full month in the summer.


3:30 - 5:00pm @ Sacred Root Kava Bar

Reading: A Blues for Nina

This reading is the Second Annual event of a project called 'A Blues for Nina' which began with a workshop led by Women from Southside Community Center's Black Girl Alchemists project (including IC, CU, & TC3 students). The project focuses on the historical, political and cultural importance of the Black female oral and written tradition. Highlighting Black women and femme writers, the project allowed attendees to come away with a more diverse arsenal of prose, equipped for this part of a full-day project. This event is an open mic, and an invitation to the whole community to share their original work, or the work of another poet. There will be some structured readings built in to the event, which will elevate Black female writers, and will be performed by Black Girls. This project was originally founded and sponsored by Southside Community Center and The Empowerment Project.


6:30 – 7:30pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

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.


6:30 - 8:30pm @ Community School of Music and Arts

Event: The Unsung Writers – Singer Songwriters

Songwriting is a craft that warrants reverence and recognition as a reputable form of writing. We hope to show an audience, or at least remind them, that song writing has a place in the writer's world. With Mary Lorson and Johnny Dowd as her guests, Jennie Lowe Stearns will share the unique writing process and intriguing thoughts from three different song writers. Live performance plays a substantial role in a touring musician's sphere as well. She’ll be asking each artist a few questions where the answers will most likely be surprising and evoke curiosity. She will be challenging them to write a song in one hour and bring that song to share. With that song writing challenge we can explore the essence or the beginning of a song.



Day 4: Sunday, May 3


11:00am - 12:00pm @ Buffalo Street Books

Workshop: Secret Syllabics: A Poetry Workshop for Sneaky People

Anyone can recognize a sonnet or a limerick, but what would drive a poet to write in syllabics, a formal constraint that the English language renders almost invisible? What pleasure or power is there in composing according to rules that most readers don't recognize even when we're staring at the poems? We will begin with a quick exploration of the history and variation of syllable-counting in American poetry, exploring such poets as Marianne Moore, Donald Justice, Sylvia Plath, James Tate, and Shane McCrae. Then we will try our hands at writing our own syllabic poems. This workshop, led by Dan Rosenberg, is open to all poets who want to explore this persistent but subtle approach to writing poems.


11:00am - 12:00pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Workshop: The Thieving Artist

Whether you’re blocked on ideas or wanting to level up your writing game, stealing from the greats (or revising the not-so-greats) is a powerful strategy at any stage of your writing career. This workshop, led by E.C. Barrett, focuses on idea generation and skill-building through imitating, re-writing, and taking inspiration from the craft of other writers. We'll read a few examples, discuss salient craft elements, and spend most of our time on writing exercises.


11:00am - 12:00pm @ Community School of Music and Arts

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

A reading by Nancy Bereano, Susan Currie, and Helena Maria Viramontes will begin with a brief introduction about the relevance of memoir in contemporary literature, then have readings by the three writers, and will conclude with audience feedback and questions.

12:30 - 1:30pm @ Community School of Music and Arts

Panel: Thinking Artistically: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Writing

More specific than the typical writing and mental health or writing and therapy approach, this panel, featuring Jaime Warburton, Joan Marcus, Katie Marks, and Jessye Cohen-Filipic, will look at the steps that we take in understanding and forming narrative out of chaos, the ways we understand that storytelling can shape our experience, and apply them to the shaping of beats, story, emotion, and thought in our writing. Panelists will explain their related backgrounds and experiences and share how those understandings have improved their own lives and/or writing and reading.


12:30 - 2:00pm @ Buffalo Street Books

Workshop/Reading: 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.


12:30 - 2:30 @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Reading: Prose and Poetry Reading

This group reading will feature the work of Roger Hecht, Peter Fortunato, Kate Doyle, Gwen Feldman, Andy Sanchez, Lizzie Frank, Annie Campbell, Mark Fabiano, Brian Arnold, and Dan Kopcow.


1:30 - 2:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

Panel: The Cults of Campus Publishing

The publishing culture is alive and well on the Ithaca College campus--from the literary and arts scene, to the fashion, entertainment, and visual beats, students are navigating a rapidly changing industry across multiple genres, audiences and platforms. So how does a publication retain its original vision while creating engaging experiences tailored to audiences across different platforms? This panel, featuring Jackson Short, James Baratta, Mateo Flores, Rhiannon Coleman, and Devin Kasparian will explore the experiences of editors at various campus publications as they navigate the ever-changing diets of their readers: through print design, festivals, podcasts and social media campaigns.


1:30 - 2:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room West

Workshop: Why You Should Pick Me: A Workshop and Exhibition on the All-Important Senior Essay

In this event, high school students -including seniors-- will coach adults on the writing of personal essays, in real time. We'll read and discuss the standard --and more inventive Chicago--topics, choose them, and then divide into smaller units for the sketching and writing of statements. We'll finish with anonymous readings of student essays. Led by Mary Lorson.


2:00 - 3:00pm @ Community School of Music and Arts

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 telling.


2:00 - 3:30pm @ Marriott, 2nd Floor

Panel: Writing for the Ears

How do you write for an audience of listeners, not readers or spectators? How do you use words and voice to conjure a story with images? Which things translate from other media, and which do not? From podcasts to radio plays--and even walking audio plays that explore site specific approaches to media--our panelists – Aoise Stratford, Katie Marks, Nick Salvato, and Caroline Levine -- will share their insights into the craft of writing for the ears. Whether it's traditional radio format, contemporary podcast, or the unique mix of forms that comprises the walking audio play, this panel will address the challenges and opportunities of adapting other forms for audio and writing beyond the page. Join us for a discussion of the writers' experiences working on a range of projects including "The Missing Chapter," "Storm Country," and "What Makes Us Human," and for concrete tips for writers wanting to write for the ears.

2:00 - 3:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Ezra Cornell Reading Room

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.


3:00 - 4:15pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room West

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; Tish Pearlman, poet and host of Out of Bounds Radio Show; Ginnah Howard, award-winning novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer; Ithaca poet, Roger Hecht; and novelist and Professor at SUNY Oneonta, George Hovis.


3:00 - 4:30pm @ Buffalo Street Books

Workshop: The Future is Feminist Book club

The Future is Feminist Book club will be discussing The Myth of Seneca Falls, by Lisa Tetrault, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first women's studies course taught at Cornell and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment.  Moderated by Durba Ghosh, the discussion will focus on how a local(ish) history was crafted into a story with national and international importance.   


3:00 - 4:30pm @ Tompkins County Public Library, Borg Warner Room East

Film Screening: 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 monthly 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 captured in a film that spotlights the writers' process of bringing the wretched and the sublime to the page and the stage. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with program facilitators: Yael Saar, Shira Evergreen, and Alison Fromme. 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.


3:00 - 4:30pm @ Tompkins Center for History and Culture

Workshop: Writing from the Body

Writers spend a lot of time in the mind. Yet, vibrant writing is often felt in the body of the reader. Imagine what you could create from a deeper, more embodied experience of your real or imagined worlds? Through a series of mindfulness exercises and writing prompts intended to stimulate the senses and shift perspective, this workshop, led by Brenna Fitzgerald, will explore what it means to write from the body. Participants will create rich material generated from a place of deep embodiment and learn techniques to enter mind/body connection before sitting down to write.


4:00 - 5:00pm @ Marriott, 2nd Floor

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, Rhian Ellis, 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.


5:30-7:00pm @ Argos Inn Warehouse

Reading/Event: Spring Writes 2020 Finale – Bob Proehl in Conversation with Thom Dunn

At this finale event, relax and enjoy a fest-inspired beverage at Argos Inn’s beautiful nextdoor event space, the Argos Warehouse, while 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.


The Spring Writes Literary Festival is made possible in part by the
Tompkins County Tourism Program and by the New York State Council on the Arts
AND Poets & Writers - with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.