As the literary community continues to growin the City of Newburgh, Safe Harbors of the Hudson Ritz Theater wants to showcase the work of local writers in a major way.
The organization is hosting its first annual Newburgh Literary Festival for the public, which will take place on Saturday, October 19 and will feature eight nationally-recognized poets and writers.
Safe Harbors board member Hannah Brooks is a co-founder of the festival, along with bestselling author and memoirist Danielle Trussoni.
“I thought it would be good to highlight the literary scene in Newburgh,” she said. “We already have a visual arts and theater scene, now it’s time for the art of the word.”
The event is expected to feature readings of the authors’ works, interviews, podcasts, film clips of literary adaptations, Q&A’s, and will culminate in a meet and greet cocktail reception and local authors’ book fair.
Some of the big names include actress and author Molly Ringwald and her husband, Panio Giannopolous, Edwin Torres of Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City, and Dutchess County poet laureate Bettina “Poet Gold” Wilkerson.
One of the authors is Maria Dahvana Headley, author of memoir “The Year of Yes” and the Beowulf-inspired “The Mere Wife.” She expressed excitement for the festival.
“I think it’s going to be really fun,” she said. “I hope it will be a successful festival.”
Dahvana Headley moved to the Newburgh area as a new mom this year and found the area to be the ideal place to raise a child.
“I was looking for a new place for the baby,” she said. “It seemed like the place where I could settle.”
She points out that Newburgh’s vibrancy separates itself from the rest of the Hudson Valley, which makes it an attractive place for writers to live and work.
Writer Elizabeth Crane has been living in the Newburgh area for five years.
She recognizes that the area has grown into a place where writers can thrive and be inspired, as Newburgh was once proclaimed the “Murder Capital of New York” by New York Magazine.
“There have been some improvements over the years,” she said. “There are locals working on making it a great place for those who live there.”
The Spring Street Reading Series will bookend the main event the night before, at Atlas Studios, 11 Spring Street. It feature Mitchell Jackson, winner of the Whiting award and the Ernest J Gaines prize for Literary Excellence, and Gretchen Primack a widely-published poet and educator. Reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by readings from 7 to 9 p.m.
The main program, on Saturday, October 19 in the Safe Harbors Lobby at the Ritz will feature eight nationally-recognized authors and poets, among them, Maria Dahvana Headley, creator of the celebrated and politically topical adaptation of Beowulf The Mere Wife; Molly Ringwald, actor, and author of the critically acclaimed story collection When it Happens to You; Bettina “Gold” Wilkerson, Dutchess county poet laureate; Edwin Torres of Nuyorican Poets Café; and award-winning novelists Panio Gianopoulos, Danielle Trussoni, Crystal Hana Kim, and Elizabeth (Betsy) Crane.It will take place between 2 and 6 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception and local author’s fair between 6 and 8 p.m.
The festival concludes Sunday afternoon, 1-3 p.m. with authors Danielle Trussoni and Ruth Danon in the Atlas Studios Gallery.
Sponsors include Thornwillow Press founders Luke and Savine Pontifell, the Newburgh Free Library, Metro North Railroad and the Shelter House Café.
Visit safeharbors.org for tickets to any of the sessions.