Looking for "LOVE"

By Ana Williams

On Thursday, February 14th, 2019, also known as Valentine’s Day, I had the privilege of attending a NYS Writers Institute event appropriately titled “Writing Love”. My initial thought when seeing the title for this event was, I guess I will be sitting through a discussion on how one “finds love”, the dos and don’ts in a relationship, etc. However, when the discussion began to develop into an alluring conversation, and more questions were being asked, my initial thought on the evenings scheduled authors were challenged. Two talented writers, Christopher Castellani and Lauren Wilkinson were featured and discussed their newly released works. Their books are titled “Leading Men” and “American Spy” respectively.

As both authors were introduced you could hear not only in the voice of the host the immense admiration for the authors and their works but, the admiration from those who reviewed the novels as well. I sat through this event held by the NYS Writers Institute and was grateful for the opportunity to observe two authors I had never heard of with a new found interest. The authors were free spirited, down to Earth and excited to hear the thoughts of everyone in the room on their recently released works. Though I didn’t have the opportunity to read each novel beforehand, I gathered that both novels are stories in which each protagonist was on a journey to find themselves. 

What I found interesting about both authors was not only were their books released on the same day, but they both focused on incorporating historic figures within their texts in the role as the main characters. While the writers discussed their creative processes, and exactly how these texts came about, I was impressed by how engaged the audience was. Each author spoke in a way that let the audience feel as though they were old friends, and they were shared their gems of writing with everyone in that room. One thing I liked that Mr. Castellani touched on was how long it took to finally complete “Leading Men”. In sharing the timeline of his writing process, he showed many aspiring authors in the audience that things take time, especially when it comes to the writing and editing process. I had a great appreciation for how real both authors were in letting the audience know that it isn’t easy to create a piece of published work. The effort not only has to be something that one is proud to have known as their own, but it must be something that others will find worth reading. 

Though both books didn’t seem to focus solely on love, I felt like the idea of love was shown in both in different ways. Both authors spoke about the amount of time and dedication they put into their books, and making sure everything was done just right. This type of dedication is what one puts into a relationship that they really care about, which is how I connected the title of the event to what I experienced. It isn’t necessarily writing about love that is important but, it is loving what you write that takes the prize. 


A Word on Respecting Your Creative Community

By Brandon Alpert

On Friday, February 16th, SUNY Albany hosted four renowned creative artists/authors in the University Art Museum.  It was a small affair, which consisted of a few rows of dedicated fans and artists encircling the panel. The audience’s eagerness was palpable in the room while they waited with anticipation for the event proper to begin.  Finally, the honored guests were introduced, there was illustrator Robin Mørk, poet Sam Cha, and photographer and media artist Danny Goodwin.  Christopher Castellani was also expected to be in attendance but unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute.  

They were all dressed modestly, adding to the uncondescending air that surrounded the three artists and made each of them approachable rather than the common perception of the talented untouchable. They were quite clearly ordinary people of the craft, the everyday human, separated from their audience only by their credentials. No red tape or fame distinctions created a divide between the two sides of the room.  Sam Cha in particular seemed to exude a certain modernist collegiate chic, as he came dressed in a black leather jacket, tight black jeans, and a messenger bag festooned with so many buttons the brand was no longer identifiable.  He was the newest to the world the three of them shared, and his love for the craft had yet to be dampened by the hardships of attemping to make it in his field.   

The topic of discussion revolved principally around such hardships, which have and continue to plague all artists in the modern world.  Of particular interest was the recurring phenomenon of artists being approached by would-be customers hoping they will work for free.  Mørk was notably experienced with such individuals and shared her own philosophy on the subject.  She implored any freelance artists to institute a “kill fee”, to ensure that they are paid for lost wages in the event that the client decides on a whim to simply cancel the project.  “Do not work for free,” she said before adding humorously, “exposure is how you die in the woods.” After each story of artistic hardship, the other two artists would chuckle and nod along in time.  There was a distinct synchronicity to their movements, and it was painfully clear that no one story belonged just to the speaker. Each artist had felt the same sting and wanted only to warn and help those who followed in their wake to know how to protect themselves from the same difficulties.

Though they each had their golden nuggets of wisdom to share (one in particular that they all agreed upon was that having a dog was highly beneficial to the artistic process), it was clear that Robin Mørk had the most to say on the subject of making it as a freelancer.  It was for this reason I sought her out after the event.  After sharing a laugh at the irony of my writing this very article for free** after all that had just been said, I asked her whether she had any thoughts or advice to share with an audience of young and upcoming creatives.

Robin Mørk: “Never feel ashamed of having to work a day-job to support yourself.  There’s this fine-art stigma that only people that can afford to make art should do so. I wish more people were proud of their day jobs.  Remember, pursuit of your artistic quest is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.”

** This review is being written for free as an internship with NY Writer’s Compendium. The goal of this organization is to provide professional experience to students for their resumes before entering into the working world. In addition, NY Writer’s Compendium provides free services to authors to help offset the requests that they themselves receive for free services and to help with the cost of promotion for those with or without day jobs. 

A Place to Feed Your Soul…and Your Belly!

By Ana Williams

On Monday February 25th I attended Poetic Vibe, an AMAZING weekly event hosted by D. Colin at Troy Kitchen. – For someone who writes a lot of poetry one would think that I have attended a lot of open mic events, however, that is far from the case. – On my journey to Troy I wasn’t sure what to expect at this open mic. Upon my arrival to Troy Kitchen, I made my way to the lounge area where I was captivated by the scenery, and the amazing scents of food next door. 

One thing I loved about the location is you not only get your soul fed, but your stomach as well! Since the event is held in a restaurant there is flexibility for people to eat, laugh and share special moments with each other. The ambiance of Troy Kitchen was so welcoming, and there was a welcoming smile on everyone’s face. The purple lights that covered the lounge complimented by silver beams from the crystal ball overhead dancing over the walls, was a beautiful sight to see.

I made my way to the front of the room and luckily made it just in time to hear the end of D. Colin’s introduction to Poetic Vibe which occurs every Monday at 7pm. For those interested in performing it is suggested that you get there promptly at that time since that is when everyone can sign up for the open mic. As I took my seat, I watched Ms. D. Colin’s on stage presence, and it was as if I was seeing the poet/performer that I aspire to be. Colin had a radiant presence that made one feel that no matter who you were or what bad experience you faced 10 seconds ago, her energy alone could make you happy to be who and where you were.

Throughout the open mic there were many performances that kept my attention throughout their performances. Some of these exceptional performances were done by Cassie, Shay, Hannah, and many more throughout the night. Joshua Ra Dundas, one of the performers, has even written his own book titled “2Q AND SIN BYRON’S Broken Crystal Mirror Pieces”. Joshua walked on stage with a charisma that you could not ignore even if you tired.  He was so full of energy – to the point that one couldn’t help but smile or even laugh as he took the stage. 

I was amazed the whole night at just how much talent was in that one room. However, there was one performance that brought me to tears. This would be the performance by the host D. Colin herself. At the beginning she started off with a song. It was one filled with so much emotion and pain, it made me feel like I had gone through exactly what she described. As she continued through her piece she switched back and forth from speaking English and Creole (Haitian dialect), which I thought was an interesting way to perform.  I recorded this performance with tears in my eyes. She spoke with so much passion when reciting these words, a passion I haven’t experienced in person in so long when it comes to poetry. From that moment I knew that Poetic Vibe would be an event I would attend again. Not only did I enjoy every poem I heard but, I also felt a part of this family that has developed and continues to overtime. 

If anyone is within or close to Troy in Albany NY, I would highly recommend you attend Poetic Vibe. It will be an experience you will never forget. 

Noah David Roberts: “SLIME THING [and other poems]”

VOICE LESS readings is an open mic that began in March 2017 and is held every Thursday night at the Green Kill Gallery in Kingston, NY. VOICE LESS seeks to “give those who feel like their art is not heard, a place where they can share, listen, and become inspired.” According to host Noah David Roberts, the open mic is “a place for those without a place.” Roberts has poems featured in Chronogram, Streetcake Magazine, and Big Scream. His books, US V. THEM and Strips can be purchased  here

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