Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fall DWC Readings Draw to a Close

The fall season at the DWC is winding down and what a tremendous success! Now in our 11th year, we have had the best attendance for our reading series in our center's history. The line-up of tremendous writers that Phil selected was a blend of local authors and those who are nationally noted. In particular, the evening with B.H. Fairchild was magnificent, and was a part of the SU Humanities Center's Syracuse Symposium, with this year's theme being Memory, Media, Archive. We appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with the Humanities Center once again.

We are now preparing for the first ever Central New York Book Awards celebration on Thursday, October 29th. Nominations were submitted from a wide array of writers who have produced books in 2012 in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The awards will be announced during the reception at Chancellor Nancy Cantor's house on the SU campus. The 24 very talented writers whose work was being considered gave the judges many remarkable books from which to select. The finalists for the awards are:

For information or to purchase tickets for the event, which is also a fundraiser for the DWC, please contact us at 315.474.6851 ext. 328, or email pmemmer@syracuseymca.org. Be a supporter of the Downtown Writers Center and the rich literary community of Central New York.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News from the New Wing

The fall of 2011 and now the new year have given the DWC much to laud:

  • Lastly, the DWC, with generous funding from an anonymous donor, launched a long-time dream of the Young Authors Academy in mid-February. This program will include writing instruction, inspiration, and peer critique in all genres of the writing arts for teens in the Syracuse City School District to start, then expanding after we get the pilot program running smoothly. Look for continued updates on the Young Authors Academy and its talented teen writers!

The spring schedule will be full of surprises and delights in our course offerings and the reading series will continue with its tradition of nationally noted authors and poets reading for free on Friday nights. For information or to be included on our mailing list, email:
dwcworkshops@syracuseymca.org or call 315.474.6851 ext. 380.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Space Completed!

The DWC is delighted to announce that our Next Decade Project has been completed, and we are now in the process of moving into our new space at the Downtown Y! We're pleased with how it all came out, and the reports from our students so far are glowing. Come check us out, if you haven't already.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Future Perfect

The DWC is currently raising funds for the Next Decade Project, a capital campaign that will result in two new classrooms, new office spaces, and more for the Downtown Writer's Center. And we need your help!

Our total campaign goal is $105,000; to date, we have raised $81,750. In order to begin construction and have the space ready for Fall 2011, we need to complete the campaign by the spring.

Your tax deductible donation to the Next Decade Project will help us continue to grow over the next 10 years. To make a pledge, contact DWC director Phil Memmer at 474-6851 x328, or email pmemmer@syracuseymca.org

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great Deals at ARTSWEEK

Join us for this weekend's ARTSWEEK festival in downtown Syracuse. We'll have a table right in front of the Downtown YMCA, with several great deals:

  • All DWC Broadsides will be only $10-$20 for the weekend.
  • Buy any DWC Broadside or book (not including the $1 bin) and get a coupon for $5 off a Fall 2010 DWC Workshop.
  • Sign up for a DWC membership (or renew) and get a free DWC messenger bag!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Comstock Review Annual Poetry Contest Deadline July 1st - $1350 in Prizes


The Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award

Final Judge: Charles Martin
(See information below)
Initial Screening by Editors

First Prize - $1 ,000
2nd Prize -$250; 3rd Prize - $100;
Honorable Mentions - Subscriptions

DEADLINE: Postmark by July 1, 2010

Here’s how it works- Our Editorial staff chooses approximately fifty-sixty Finalists. The highest scoring Finalists (25 or so) are considered Special Merit Poems. Special Merit Poems go to the Judge. The Judge determines the top three Prize Winners, The entire editorial staff then selects the honorable mentions from the remaining Special Merits.

The Rules:
1. Each poem on a separate 8.5 by 11 page, typed.

2. Poems must be original, unpublished in ANY Medium,print or electronic,
and not under consideration elsewhere.

3. No poem must exceed 40 lines, beginning with the first line of text
below the title. DO NOT count blank lines. Please also consider
our 65 character line width when submitting.

4. Name and ALL contact information on the REVERSE side
of EACH poem entered. If not included, we have to disqualify your entry.

5. Send SASE for results only. No Poems will be returned.

6. All Prize Winners, Honorable Mentions, and Special Merit Poems
are considered accepted work, and will be published in Issue 24.2
(Fall/Winter 2010). Finalists will be queried for permission to use their work.
A non-response is considered a yes. All accepted authors will receive
one contributor’s copy of the issue.

7. An entry fee of $5 per poem is required for each poem submitted. No limit
on the number of poems at $5 each.
Special offer for 2010: Order a one-year subscription with your entry
at the discounted price of $16 (normally priced $20). If outside the US,
add $5 per copy for postage. Make check out to "The Comstock Review."

Send contest submissions, after April 1, 2010 to:
CWG Poetry Contest 2009
4956 St. John Drive
Syracuse, NY 13215

Also click here for Contest Guidelines which offer many further explanations of the rules and editor preferences.

*Red section above highlighted since we often receive poems that fall outside the rules and they will be disqualified unless we can reach the poets and have them resubmitted following the rules. The Editors

Judge for 2010: Charles Martin

Charles Martin

Charles Martin was born in New York City in 1942 and grew up in the Bronx. He is a graduate of Fordham University in New York City and received his Doctorate from SUNY at Buffalo. His most recent book of poems, Starting From Sleep: New and Selected Poems (The Overlook Press, 2002), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and was chosen as a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Two of his earlier books of poems, What the Darkness Proposes (1996) and Steal the Bacon (1987), were both nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Hudson Review, Boulevard, and The Threepenny Review, among others.

About his work, the poet X. J. Kennedy has said: "A poet of masterly command, Charles Martin can think fiercely and feel intensely. He can captivate us with a sustained narrative, or dazzle us with a wicked epigram."

Martin is an acclaimed translator of Latin poetry. His verse translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (W. W. Norton, 2003) received the 2004 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. He has also published translations of the complete poems of Catullus (Johns Hopkins, 1990) and a critical introduction to Catullus's work which is part of Yale University Press's Hermes Series.

He is the recipient of the Literature award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Bess Hokin Award from Poetry, a 2001 Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A professor at Queensborough Community College (CUNY), he also teaches poetry at Syracuse University, and has taught workshops at the Sewanee Writers Conference, the West Chester Conference on Form and Narrative in Poetry, and the Unterberg Center of the 92nd Street YMHA. In 2006, he was appointed Cathedral Poet in Residence at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. He lives in Manhattan and Syracuse with his wife, arts journalist Johanna Keller. (With thanks to: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/324)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


In case you missed the very first DWC PRO Graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 19th . . . we're reproducing the commencement speech given by our own Georgia Popoff here. It was an inspiring time, and everyone at the DWC is very, very proud of our first class.

I am so honored to celebrate this first class of graduates from the DWC PRO certification program. Their accomplishments in the past 2 years are admirable and substantial. As I have stated on more than one occasion, each of these writers have given him or herself a number of gifts: those of identity, creative passion, commitment, and determination. Mostly, the gift of indulging in something that they have not been able to escape and for which they may have not been fully lauded or understood by others: the life of the active writer.

As an adult, I have always been outside the standard arenas of writers because I did not remain on the path of academia. I also did not last a long time in that other more “street” crew of spoken word artists and performance poets, although I tried. Throughout my life, I have always felt “outside of,” continuing to write because it is part of my DNA. As an adult, I held two identities: first, a poet with a day job. Then, I gave up the hope that poet would be first, resigned to the fact that I would be poet as hobbyist and would somehow find a way for that to be satisfaction enough. I was wrong and, as I left a 10-year quiet time during which I experienced poetic silence and a crisis of faith, once I was again seeing myself as a poet, introducing myself as a poet first among all the jobs and avocations in which I was immersed, I had to find a title to explain myself. I settled upon that of “community poet.” This became more than a line on a business card or self-designed letterhead, this became a role, a mission, my identity.

Each of our graduates today is somehow first of community and then a writer, perhaps because they are working 50+ hours a week, or managing both job and family, or any other number of activities that do not permit days on end to sit with pen in hand or fingers to keyboard, waiting for the Muses to drop pearls and bon mots.

These writers have to do the laundry, attend to family, deal with sick loved ones, parent youngsters, earn livings, etc. Each has a busy life full of obligations, and each has stepped beyond the occasional writing course to feed their passion for language to embrace a demanding course schedule and volume of required writing that has lasted 2 years. Now that we look back to 2008, when this program was in its final stages of being designed, how quickly it all passed.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, I was the masseuse for the Women’s Fitness Center. I was in the YMCA building at least three times a week and there are still people here who worked here then. Robert at the front desk and I discussed this just the other night, how we have known each other close to 35 years. I felt a part of the Y community and I loved my role, although I didn’t make much money. But people always said poets never make money and I was deeply invested in that lie.

In March of 2000, I returned to the YMCA after nearly 16 years of other career attempts. I was setting my sights on leaving the most recent role of secretary; I was finding a way to live my life as poet first and all the other labels afterwards. Through a network of colleagues, I was referred to the Y to work in an afterschool program of the newly established Y Arts branch. Y Arts was a shot in the dark on behalf of the Y but the Metropolitan School of the Arts had folded and there was a community need to be met that ran parallel with the national YMCA objectives to serve the whole being.

I was aware of the Writers Voice program that Jason Shinder brought into prominence and we set about the process of reaching out to Jason to bring our Y into the fold. In that simple suggestion, a seed was planted that germinated with one subsequent conference call upon which I sat in. The rest has become our history, first with Phil Memmer coming to Central NY and being hired to really formulate a comprehensive arts program and to build the Center, the Writer’s Center being something that we all know is dearest to his heart and interests as a writer. What a fine job he has done. Thanks, Phil.

And look at the remarkable fact that we are not only still open and ready to celebrate our first decade but that we have this graduation today. I have been misty-eyed all week. I have also admittedly been mystified that it has all worked. But this afternoon, this party, is the best of what all of those 10 years represent. Not just in the graduates but in the overall community. We have the best of America’s writers here to read for us and share their craft and angle on the mystery of being a writer.

We have award-winning, publishing faculty who share their talents with our students. We have current faculty and likely future faculty who have come through the doors first as students and workshop participants. We have faculty who have joined first as audience members. We are a community of our own, and we draw from and serve the greater community in the process.

The only regret is that more of our neighbors throughout Central NY do not even know that this resource is available but we can continue to grow our reputation and share the good news of the DWC. We can each be an ambassador for the remarkable entity that is the Downtown Writer’s Center.

To Phil, thanks for all you have done in building these programs and keeping the doors open to create a place for artists of all ages, and particularly for writers, much less envisioning this PRO course of study. How valuable it is and how far it reaches beyond the halls of academia or the workshop weeks of a low-residency program. PRO delivers a very personal experience for each who has embarked upon the journey or are so doing now.

To Jennifer Pashley, thank you for your careful and compassionate stewardship of each of these students, as well as for each of those taking any course we offer. We also thank you for your tireless support and advocacy on the behalf of the faculty. You are the hub of the wheel and we are so grateful.

To the faculty that has mentored these students, job well done. You have been generous of spirit and time and the success of these writers is a reflection of your work as teachers. You have been discerning, even tough when necessary, but you have been kind and have amplified the sense of her/his own capacity in each of these writers. How wonderful to be among you as colleagues.

To each of you graduating, thank you for your talents. The thesis readings were spectacular and equal to any of the “PROs” who have stood behind that fabulous bar to read for us. Plus you did not make the corny joke about wanting to serve drinks; you have heard it enough to refrain.

I hope that you will all continue with your efforts to publish. You are all worthy of the investment of print and the audience that is out there for you. This afternoon is a starting point, not an end. It is time to jump off the high board now that you have worked from the lower, diving into that cool water over and over, presenting new work, flawed work, astounding work, all of it. Each of you has developed differently but all of you are so accomplished today. Embrace it fully and then do not rest on your laurels…get going. Find homes for those words and create more. Bring more characters to life, breathe life into stanzas…do it all… because you love it and because language gifts you many times over.

Lastly, I want to commend you on the way you have supported each other. The bonds among you are touching and true. The way you each recognized the other to support the growth you witnessed, to help each other be the best writer you are all capable of is another generosity that is enviable. It is the heart and center of a community writer, a title I gladly share with each of you. Congratulations and best of luck.