River River Journal is published twice yearly, featuring poetry, prose, and translations in English, as well as images from contributors around the world. Visit River River Writers Circle on Meetup for our schedule of literary events for writers and readers in the heart of the Hudson Valley. We are a nonprofit, local arts and community organization.
Say it with me. Bidoup Nui Ba. Bee-dooop nwee baah.
It’s kind of like a background vocal for a Frankie Valli song, except instead of shiny cars with big fins cruising the Jersey Shore, think ancient forests as far as the eye can see—and perhaps they are enchanted.
We are pleased to bring you this guest blog post from our 2019 high school intern, Elijah Manning!
Five years ago, if you asked me whether I would someday be writing and performing stand up, I probably would’ve said, “My mom doesn’t let me talk to strangers.”
I simply didn’t see comedy being a significant part of my future. Up until a year ago, the funniest thing about me was the way I looked. I had no desire to write or perform jokes. All that aside, the possibility of turning to comedy shouldn’t have seemed that far fetched.
Humor runs deep in my family. From a young age, I saw how humor could relax difficult situations, help us cope with loss, and lessen the pain and angst of life’s bad experiences.
This weekend, walk right into a book (in the form of a river village) with writer, artist and activist, Bill Batson. Nyack Sketch Log, his book collection of favorite local sketches and essays, is now a walking tour. The two-hour, October 6 Nyack Sketch Log tour, conducted by Bill Batson, includes two museum visits (Edward Hopper and Historical Society) and a $5 donation to the Historical Society of the Nyacks.
But before you put on your walking shoes and head out the door, delve into local writing inspired in Bill Batson’s memoir writing class, Writing Your Truth. River River Writers Circle sponsored Words & Images, a column featuring his students’ writing this summer in Nyack News and Views.
Just before Memorial Day this year, we joined up with Craft of War Writing, a community writing group for veterans based in New York City, to generate new memoir work.
In collaboration with Voices from War, Craft of War Writing seeks to bring veterans’ stories to light, recognizing that each individual’s unique experience contributes to the complex truth of a broader story, in which military service to the United States plays only a part. True to this spirit, we delved into the details of the small experiences that have formed us. In order to enhance our portrayal of what we remember, we explored the things we might not remember so clearly.
Thank you to John LoSasso for bringing about this wonderful meeting! We hope you enjoy these excerpts from our Memorial Day circle. For more information, visit Craft of War Writing here .
I don’t remember when stickball went out of style
I remember my mother buying pencils for us from the corner candy store. It is the latter part of January, Nineteen Sixty-Two. We’re starting school in this country for the first time, P.S. 39. I remember living on 827 Kelly Street. I remember hearing the voices of the adults. My mother screaming in urgency to get up and get dressed. The building next to ours is on fire. I remember going to the bathroom to wash up. I did not want to go outside with a dirty face, and I remember my Aunt Maria busting the bathroom door open and screaming, “Boy, get out of here.”
We are pleased to announce two wonderful opportunities available to the River River writing community at no cost. Please email Donna for more information, on your own behalf or on behalf of any wonderful writer in your life!
The “Strategies for Revision” workshop with Mary Beth Keane is made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of Rockland and the New York State Council on the Arts. Prose writers must submit 5,000 words and a brief cover letter. Date/time: Saturday, April 7, 12-3pm Deadline: extended to March 9, 2018 Place: Cuppa Pulp Writers’ Space, 119 Main St. Suite 2, Nanuet, NY 10954 Objective: Attendees will receive comment and revision advice based on reading and discussion in a workshop with other writers, led by Mary Beth Keane. Attendance requirements: in-person attendance is required. All reading of other participants’ work should be done prior to the workshop. Attendees will be expected to engage in discussion of each other’s work, keeping in mind each writer’s intentions and doing our best to keep each other writing.
The scholarship to Summer Writers’ Week at Manhattanville College is an unparalleled opportunity, beyond its $750 face value. Applicants must submit a writing sample in their chosen genre and a letter of need. Participants get a weeklong intensive in one of 5 genres with well-known instructors: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, dramatic writing, or graphic novel narrative. See MvilleMFA.com for details about instructors in your genre of choice. Housing costs extra, but it’s only $45/night. We all dream of retreats like this… and here’s an opportunity right across the river. Thank you to Lori and Manhattanville College for making this available!
For about a year now, River River Writers’ Circle has been earning its double-riparian moniker, crossing from the west to the east bank of the Hudson to Barat House at Manhattanville College. The MFA program at the College partners with us to offer our writing circles at this welcoming, intimate cottage, formerly the residence of the program’s founder, Sister Ruth Dowd.
MFA-style workshops are not known for focusing on generative work. Students may receive a warm-up prompt at the opening of a workshop to get the juices flowing and to create a trusting dynamic, but most of the time are expected to take their peers’ comment and discussion with quiet dignity and “really write” in solitude. Circles like write! acknowledge the creative ballast provided by a solid group dynamic, but provide it for the raw creative process. The energy that traditionally goes into discussion is spent on the page. Write! was therefore a bit of a novelty—and a challenging one—to bring to an MFA setting, where writers are more accustomed to a solitary, at times highly protective, creative process.
But novelty, challenges, and approaching the creative act from a place slightly outside our comfort zones all define a writer’s life. Here are some of the fruits of our afternoons. Many thanks to Alice Green, Maureen Amaturo, and Talia Woolfe for sharing their work. Enjoy!
The Face within Me
Alice B. Green
In the hairline of a moment, in the reflection of a mirror, I sometimes see her sallow cheeks And the large, soul-saddened eyes of a heart stained by lies.
On the first day of September, we ended our long series of “write!” salons at JohnnyCakes Cafe in Nyack, which we “prompt”-ly eulogized in verse. Many thanks to Mary Blehl for sharing her fresh-on-the-page musings.
Our community “write!” salons continue at three other times and places this fall; check our calendar for details.
With a bang that I think you could hear from this side of the river, Summer Writers’ Week returned to Manhattanville College the last week of June after a 2-year hiatus, bringing an invigorating infusion of craft development talks, readings of new work, and inspiring discussion to local writers. Workshops in poetry, nonfiction, fiction, YA fiction, and dramatic writing formed the week’s backbone, led by Melissa Tuckey, Michael McGregor, Mitchell S. Jackson,Meagan Brothers, and Sharbari Ahmed. Additional talks and readings featured a keynote reading by PEN/Faulkner Award winner Joseph O’Neill.
In keeping with Manhattanville’s tradition of inclusivity and community engagement, this program overflowed with offerings that were free and open to the public, including not only the keynote reading, but also intimate readings and craft discussions with Carl Potts on the Graphic Novel; Dan Zevin on writing comedy; Con Lehane and John Langan in writing genre fiction, particularly mystery and the fantastical; Rivka Galchen, who reprised a recent presentation for NPR on cross-genre works; New York Times book review fiction editor Greg Cowles on the art of writing reviews; Suzanne Parker on structuring the poetry manuscript; Kristin Prevallet on writing and the mind-body connection; and Alan Felsenthal of the Song Cave on starting a small press.