WRITING GROUPS IN ROCHESTER
There are dozens of writing groups in the Rochester area.
The most prestigious is perhaps Rochester Poets. Founded in 1922 as the Rochester chapter of the Poetry Society of America, Rochester Poets is the oldest continuing literary organization in the area.
Though no longer affiliated with the Poetry Society of America, past and current members of Rochester Poets are stellar: Al Poulin, Jr. (1938-1996), Cornelius Eady, Israel Emiot, Gary Lehmann, John Roche, Vincent Golphin, Anne Coon, Ruth Kennedy, George Monagan, W.E. Butts, Judith Kitchen, and many others -- click here for a more extensive list.
Rochester Poets' heritage has already been judged historic: selections from its correspondence, minutes and other documents from 1922 to 1973 are archived in the Rare Books and Special Collection Department of the University of Rochester Rush Rhees Library. Yet the organization is active and contemporary, maintaining a website, blog, and electronic mailing list.
Another major poetry organization is Just Poets. Founded in 2004, Just Poets has blossomed into a major Rochester-based poetry-centered nonprofit.
Currently the group has over seventy members-in-good-standing, including life members Hayden Carruth and Cornelius Eady. Both internationally recognized poets were brought to Rochester for readings hosted by Just Poets during National Poetry month.
Just Poets actively seeks to raise the public's awareness and appreciation of poetry in various ways. It offers a speakers' bureau for group and classroom presentations, and seeks out and participates in joint ventures with programs such as Rochester Ink, the St. John Fisher Arts in Education Program, Wordfoundry, Write the Night Away, and Women Celebrating Women.
Just Poets also publishes Le Mot Juste, an annual anthology of works by its members, produced by Foothills Publishing.
Other prominent groups include RACWI (the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators) — one of the leading children's writers groups in the country, an organization with over seventy members, some of them winners of the top honors in their field. RACWI is an active group whose members often speak at schools and which is involved in book festivals.
The group has reached such a size that it now restricts membership only to those who have either published a children's book, or who have completed one and are actively marketing it.
The informal nature of some writing groups makes them hard to pin down, and so contact information for groups below is (for the moment) sometimes spotty -- readers who know more are invited to email us via the Contact page. Till then, however, you may notice that some of the groups listed below have no web site, no club house, no member list and no contact info. So how does one contact them?
A good way is to check the Events Calendar at Barnes & Noble Pittsford. By inviting many such groups to come, meet, and speak at the Pittsford location, B&N Pittsford has given local writing groups both a platform and a new way to link with the public. As a rule you can find groups listed on flyers at Barnes & Noble, or by checking the Arts & Cultural Council's Events Calendar at www.artsrochester.org.
And if you want to form a group yourself? Traditional routes have included putting an ad in the Groups Forming section of City Magazine. Or taking a class at Writers & Books and seeing if those attending would like to keep meeting after class is done. Lately, social software like Meetup is supercharging the ease with with groups can form.
Who's out there now? Here's a sample, many of whom have appeared recently at B&N Pittsford:
The 2000 Word Club
The 2000 Word Club is Rochester's only writing group focused exclusively on the creation of prose. There is one restriction -- that pieces presented for review, or performed, or created on the spot, must be under two thousand words in length.
The organization invites prose writers of every variety, from short story writers, writers of memoir, prose poets, creative essayists, humorists, fabulists, flash fiction writers, and experimental writers. It holds monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford.
The Bibliophile Society of Rochester
Discover Great New Writers Book Group
Editorial Freelancers' Association
Fiction Book Group
Freedom Writers Group
The Freedom Writers Group meets once a month at Writers & Books to write letters in support of writers and journalists around the world who have not advocated violence but who have been detained or persecuted for their writings. Contact Writers & Books for more information.
Gay And Lesbian Book Group
Greater Rochester Penmanship & Calligraphy Club
Groupo Literario en Conxion (Spanish Book Group)
Jane Austen Society of North America
Just Poets is a poetry-oriented nonprofit group formed in 2004 which holds readings, publishes an e-newsletter, and has a web site and blog at justpoets.blogspot.com.
The offers a number of poetry-related services to members and to the public at large. Among these are a monthly newsletter, Poet Talk, which features poetry book reviews, listings of readings and new publications by local authors, and calls for submission and reading opportunities for local poets.
Just Poets presents at its monthly meetings educational programs on various aspects of poetry, followed by small group workshops that peer-review members' poems. Recent programs have included presentations by Norm Davis, M. J. Iuppa, Sarah Freiligh. Gary Lehmann, Tom Holmes, Ed Scutt, David Michael Nixon, and other well-known area poets.
The group also participates in numerous readings throughout the city, and holds its own featured reading and Open Mic the second Thursday of each month at Barnes & Noble in Pittsford.
Moving Beyond Racism Book Group
Mystery Book Group
"What Is Speculative Literature? An emerging crossroads of science and fantasy, of literature and mystery, of the surreal and the scientific. A new kind of writing for a new kind of world.
"Speculative literature is a new mode of writing that starts where genre fiction leaves off. Sometimes called slipstream, sometimes postmodernism, speculative literature is a living intersection of genres that rises to the level of art through a focused concentration on literary craftsmanship and style. A place where Wells and Orwell, Kafka and Vonnegut, Rimbaud and Lem meet and compare notes on the realities within and the shape of things to come."
And that's just the R-Spec web site's opening blurb!
The postmodernism literary scene increasingly mixes genre characteristics up, and R-Spec has taken the ball and run with it, opening its arms to writers of sci-fi, fantasy, surrealism, magic realism, experimental fiction, and just about anything unabashedly imaginative, providing only that it is well-written.
The Upstate New York group "hosts theme discussions on social, technological, and literary issues, holds readings and in-depth analyses of classic speculative works and new works by members, invites speakers to talk about hot public issues and enduring literary questions, serves as a source of information and foresight for think tanks and journalists, and strives to help young and ambitious writers further explore and contribute to this new literary world."
R-SPEC meets the first Tuesday of every month on the second floor level of Barnes & Noble in Pittsford, the second largest B&N in all New York. The public is welcome.
The public is also invited to visit the R-Spec web site, and indeed it should. No writers' group in the city has a more attractive or readable online presence. Solid content, a blog and an events calendar, super resources and links, and if you have any questions, you can contact the group directly from the web page, or at http://r-spec.org/contact.
R-Spec is one of the newest literary groups on the scene but also one of most dynamic, and one that is developing fast. A group to watch, a site to bookmark, and writers and writing to read and enjoy.
RACWI is the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators. It's an organization with over seventy members, some of them winners of the top honors in their field, and is actively involved in book festivals.
The organization has no web site, and restricts membership only to those who have either published a children's book, or who have completed one and are actively marketing it.
Several of RACWI's writers are present on Writing In Rochester's Children's/Young Adult Writers page.
Rochester Area Haiku Group
The Rochester Area Haiku Group meets the second Sunday of every month from 2PM to 4 pm at Barnes & Noble B&N Pittsford. The contact coordinator is Deanna Tiefenthal.
The Rochester Area Haiku Group has has a web site at rahg.freehostia.com/ and further contact information is available there.
Rochester Poetry Workshop
The Rochester Poetry Workshop meets on the first Monday of every month from 7PM to 9PM at the Panera Bread eatery, Hylan Drive, Henrietta. Contact RPW@snsnews.com.
One of the oldest and most respected literary organizations in Upstate New York.
In addition to its many other activities, Rochester Poets also publishes an annual anthology, The Pinnacle Hill Review, as well as other chapbooks, and has over the years engaged co-sponsorships with the SUNY Brockport Writers Forum, Poets in the Schools, The University of Rochester English Department and Summer Writer's Workshop, and BOA Editions.
Rochester Poets meetings are held on the third Saturday of each month from 1:30 PM to 4 PM at the Center at High Falls Gallery.
Rochester Poets readings are held the second Monday of every month at 7 PM in the Hughes Rotunda room, in Ralph Wilson Education Building at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford.
The group has a website online at rochesterpoets.port5.com, publishes a Blog, and features an electronic mailing list which supplies information about area literary events. The list joined online at the web site.
For more information, contact the group's president, Frank Judge, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rochester Fantasy Fans Book Group
Society for Technical Communication
The Society for Technical Communication is an international organization with hundreds of local chapters, each of which brings together technical writers. There is a local Rochester Chapter with a web site at www.stcrochester.org.