Providing grants, programs, and services to the artists and audiences of Tompkins County for over 25 years

Spring Writes Literary Festival

The annual Spring Writes Literary Festival features over 30 literary themed events (panels, performances, workshops, fun stuff, readings) taking place over 4 days in 10 downtown Ithaca locations!

Spring Writes 2017 will be May 4-7.
Below is last year's schedule to give you a taste of Spring Writes programming.

The Spring Writes Literary Festival is a program of the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County. Please peruse our website (you're on it!) for our other events, programs, and grants!  Thank you to our 2016 Sponsor, Wegmans!  This event is also supported by New York State Council on the Arts and the Tompkins County Tourism Program.

All events are FREE unless otherwise noted.



9:30am to 8:30pm 
Tompkins County Public Library

Poem in Your Pocket Day!
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Tompkins County Public Library will be distributing free poems written by local poets throughout the community! Pick up a poem at the library.

7:00 - 9:00pm 
Lot 10 Lounge ($5 Cover)

Storytelling Competition: Trampoline Presents
“Pride”, co-hosts Bob Proehl & Mickie Quinn

Anyone can join in!  Participants get five minutes to tell a true story with no notes. The winner will be invited to participate in our Big Showdown at the end of the year. Trampoline continues its celebration of the Seven Deadly Sins with this month's theme, "Pride".


4:00 – 5:00pm 
Buffalo Street Books

Discussion: Leda Meredith
A Buffalo Street Books event: Leda Meredith will discuss her book “The Forager’s Feast: How to Identify, Gather, and Prepare Wild Edibles,” part field guide, covering 50 plants, mushrooms, and seaweeds, part cookbook for turning these wild edibles into delectable dishes. More at

4:00 – 5:30pm 
CAP ArtSpace

Reading & Workshop: Poems of Shape-Shifter
Fox & Writing Speculative Fiction and Poetry

Katharyn Howd Machan, Ithaca’s first poet laureate, will begin with a reading of myth-based work-in-progress. A workshop will follow where participants will generate new works of science fiction and/or fantasy inspired by prompts, and in the spirit of Rod Serling's legacy. Bring a notebook and pen, or laptop! Katharyn, author of 32 published collections of poetry, is a professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College, where since the late 1970s she has taught a 300-level course in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy and, in more recent years, fairy-tale-driven courses.

4:00 - 5:30pm 
CAP Office

Panel: MFA Discussion Group for Graduates, Students, and Prospects
Are you considering an MFA in Creative Writing? Have questions? Join us for an informal discussion group featuring: Rob Costello, graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts; Kate Klein, graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop; Steve Weed, graduate of Warren Wilson College; and Casey Martinson, current student in the Stonecoast program (University of Southern Maine). Graduates and students of other programs are welcome to attend and share their experiences as well. A great opportunity for prospective students to survey the road ahead!

4:00 - 5:30pm
Tompkins County Public Library, Ezra Cornell Reading Room

Readings: Poetry Open Mic (Registration Required)
This event, a program of the Library, is in celebration of National Poetry Month, and is open to all poets. Registration starts at 3:30pm just outside the Reading Room.

6:00 – 8:00pm 
Lot 10 Lounge - 2nd floor

Literary Jeopardy with Master of Ceremonies Bob Proehl and Host Jennifer Savran Kelly
Please join us for this year's official Spring Writes kick-off event. Sit back and enjoy a cocktail while you watch four teams of contestants face off for their literary dignity in front of the iconic blue screen. Ithaca novelist Bob Proehl will assume the role of Alex Trebek, and our fearless contestants will include staff from Ithaca's cooperatively owned bookstore Buffalo Street Books, creative writing professors from Ithaca College, and a lively bunch of authors about town.


10:00 – 11:00am 
Cinemapolis – Theatre 1

Film and Presentation: Beyond the Bechdel
Test: Writing for Women on the Screen

The "Bechdel Test” puts forth the following requirements for film – a film must have at least two women in it -- who talk to each other -- about something other than a man. How many films actually do this? Becky Lane, filmmaker and teacher of screenwriting at Colgate, will talk about her ideas on how filmmakers can create strong female protagonists that go beyond Bechdel.  She’ll show clips from her past and new films. Her past films include the award-winning “Hens and Chicks,” “Poker Face,” and the critically-acclaimed web series, “The Chanticleer.”

10:00am -12:00pm 
Community School of Music & Arts (CSMA) Lobby
Workshop: artReaction: Creative Writing, with Irene (Zee) Zahava
Participants will gather in the lobby of CSMA, view the current exhibit, “A Sense of Place,” and write spontaneously in response to the theme and/or the art. Participants will have the opportunity to share just-written work with the group. This workshop is designed for beginning as well as experienced writers, and takes place in a safe, supportive, and stimulating environment. Bring paper and pen (or pencil), rather than a lap top. Zee Zahava is the director of a writing studio in downtown Ithaca, where she leads weekly writing groups.

10:30am – 12:30pm
Cinemapolis – Theatre 2
Workshop: Writing a Stand-up Comedy Routine
Emily Sanders Hopkins and Ruben RC join forces to offer a crash course in comedy writing.  Emily is a New Yorker magazine cartoonist, writer and magazine editor. Ruben RC hosts and produces open mics and monthly showcases in the area and has been named Ithaca's best standup comic by Ithaca Times readers. Later on the same day, participants can try out their jokes in front of family, friends, and the general public on a special Open Mic Comedy Hour. (Scroll down for 6pm Saturday.);

11:00am – 12:00pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading: Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages
on Europe and America

A poet and essayist attempt to find their bearings in a civilization lost at sea. Conducted in the shadow of the centennial of the First World War, this dialogue of poetry and lyrical essays between Romanian American poet Andrei Guruianu and Italian American essayist Anthony Di Renzo asks whether Western culture will successfully navigate the difficult waters of the new millennium or shipwreck itself on the mistakes of the past two centuries. Andrei Guruianu teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University; Anthony Di Renzo is Associate Professor of Writing at Ithaca College.;

11:30am – 12:30pm
Cinemapolis - Theatre 1
Film Screening: Yahweh’s Sea Glass, and Q&A, with Christopher Holmes
This film is a glimpse into the life of a terrible but successful artist, through the eyes of his girlfriend/muse; his arch-nemesis; a terrifying critic; his loyal assistant who actually does all the work; a professor who spouts endless postmodern jargon; and a young woman who only speaks in '80's pop lyrics - in Korean.  Chris Holmes is a writer, filmmaker and comedian and performance artist. His mother was a famous acrobat.

11:30am – 12:30pm
Tompkins County Public Librar, Borg Warner Room
The Senior Troupe of Lifelong presents Living History Theatre
The Troupe has been performing Living History Theatre for more than 16 years! This performance centers on the theme of “animals” featuring stories from the troupe’s lives that are both humorous and serious. The players are the characters, the scenery and props. Directed and coordinated by Sue Perlgut, the troupe features Fran Helmstadter, Eva Luby, Carol Santucci, Deirdre Silverman, Mark Silverman, Jean Senegas, Sandy Stein and Barbara West. With grant support from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.

12:30 – 2:00pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading: Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts
"Love the Stranger" by Jay Deshpande ('13), with Marina Blitshteyn and Sam Ross.
Join the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts as we celebrate “Love the Stranger” (YesYes Books) by Jay Deshpande, named one of the top poetry debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers. Crucial work on the manuscript occurred during Jay's 2013 residency at Saltonstall; now he returns to Ithaca to read alongside two other emerging poets: Marina Blitshteyn of Buffalo, and Sam Ross of Brooklyn. Book signing to follow. More information:

1:00 – 3:00pm
Ink Shop Printmaking Center
Workshop: A Brief Intro to Bookbinding
for Writers and Other Dreamers

Maximum 15 participants. Pre-Registration required. E-mail
In this brief introductory workshop, by Jennifer Savran Kelly, participants will learn the basics, including the anatomy of a book, how to choose the right materials for your project and where to find them, which tools to use, and the wonderfully versatile pamphlet stitch, along with a few fancy folding techniques that can help you turn a simple chapbook into a work of art.  Jennifer Savran Kelly’s fiction has appeared in several literary journals, and she has been binding books for over a decade, has worked as a book conservation associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and taught bookbinding workshops at The Center for Book Arts in NY, and The Ink Shop in Ithaca. /

1:30 to 3:00pm Community School of Music and Arts
Wolf’s Mouth Theatre Company
presents staged readings of short new works (10 – 20 minutes each) by Ithaca playwrights. The mission of Wolf’s Mouth is to give an artistic home to central New York playwrights, theater artists, and technicians; to nurture and workshop new plays and theatrical works; and to provide affordable, high-quality, locally written and produced theatre.

1:30 – 3:15pm
Tompkins County Public Library -  Borg Warner Room
Panel: Many Paths to Publishing
Panelists will discuss their perspectives about how writers can approach getting their work out into the world. This is not so much about the business side of publishing and more about how writers can present their work and themselves to publishers, as well as what kinds of options are available to them if they do not wish to engage with -- or have been unsuccessful with -- the traditional publishing model. Panelists are Edward Hower from Cayuga Lake Books; Elizabeth Dunn-Cunningham, a self-published author; Michele Lesko, from IthacaLit; and Gina Keicher, an editor at Black Lawrence Press.

2:30 – 3:30pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading: Bob Proehl & Karen Joy Fowler
Bob Proehl will read from his new book, “A Hundred Thousand Worlds”, about a mother and son on a cross-country road trip through the world of comic-cons, due to be released on June 28th. Karen Joy Fowler will read from an autobiographical essay about a trip she took as a 16 year old to Italy: “An Italian Education.” Local author Bob Proehl was a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a 2013 resident at the Saltonstall Arts Colony. He has written for the 33⅓ book series and worked as a columnist and reviewer for the arts and culture site Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book.

4:00 – 5:30pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading: Jewish Noir
At this Buffalo Street Books event, author Kenneth Wishnia will read from stories from the “Jewish Noir” anthology, a unique collection of new stories by Jewish and non-Jewish literary and genre writers, including numerous award-winning authors such as Marge Piercy, Harlan Ellison, S.J. Rozan, Nancy Richler, Moe Prager (Reed Farrel Coleman), Wendy Hornsby, Charles Ardai, and Kenneth Wishnia. The stories explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-twentieth-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora.  More at

4:45 - 5:45pm
Community School of Music and Arts
Performance/Reading : Naomi Edmark: Naomi Gives a Love Letter
Naomi Edmark’s one person performance of poetry and narratives shares her story of grappling with madness and finding the will to survive. “Being a queer black woman from the Midwest, I know pain, fear, and love. I am a healer and artist seeking connections between forgotten pain and body; between oppressed groups of people; between silenced tongue and a voice; between me and myself.” Her work has gone to Feronia Wellness Center, Olive Tjaden Gallery and Ag Toby Gallery at Cornell, Stella’s Restaurant, Waffle Frolic, Black Forge Coffee House in Pittsburgh.

5:00 - 6:30pm
Sacred Root Kava Bar
Reading: CULTURA! Poesia Latin@ Poetry Event
Local poets read from their recent work followed by a Poetry Open Mic where participants are encouraged to share original works or works from a favorite Latin@ or Latin American poet.  There will be a reception with free Latin food bi Bici-Cocina Bicycle Food Cart. Stay for Salsa night 7:00 to 9:00! Hosted by Carolina Osorio Gil, Director of Cultura Ithaca and Latin@ Studies Engagement Coordinator at Cornell. Find Cultura Ithaca on facebook.

6:00 – 8:00pm
Lot 10, 2nd Floor
Open-Mic Comedy Night
Emily Sanders Hopkins & Ruben RC will host this event.  Emily is a New Yorker magazine cartoonist, writer and magazine editor. Ruben RC hosts and produces open mics and monthly showcases in the area and has been named Ithaca's best standup comic by Ithaca Times readers. Show up 30 minutes ahead of time to sign up!;


10:45am -12:45pm
Community School of Music & Arts
Workshop: Graphic Novel Writing, with Ethan Young
(Geared towards pre-teens, teens & young adults. Actual adults welcome!)
Come join acclaimed graphic novelist, Ethan Young, as he breaks down the comic making process. The workshop includes a demonstration, Q and A, and hands-on comic creation.  Ethan Young is a prolific illustrator living in Ithaca. His graphic novel "NANJING: The Burning City" from Dark Horse Books was named one of the Best Graphic Novels of 2015 by GQ, Paste Magazine, and Mental Floss.

11:00am – 12:30pm
The History Center
Panel: Publishing Genre Fiction
Genre fiction can be defined as plot-based stories with specific roles, settings, and values that are fundamental to the reader’s expectations. Meet with local genre authors, whose work spans from mystery to romance to sci-fi and beyond, and learn about the professional expectations of this multi-billion-dollar business that dominates the publishing industry. Jen Bokal is the author of the best-selling and award winning ancient world historical romance, “The Gladiator’s Mistress.” Gigi Vernon is is a crime fiction author whose short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Doreen Alsen is both a choral conductor and writer, multi-published by The Wild Rose Press with seven books of her “At The End Zone” series. Eric Griffith is a tech/editor for by day, and writes sci-fi and fantasy books at night.

11:00am - 1:00pm
CAP ArtSpace
Workshop: Digital Entrepreneurship for Writers
Thomas Deneuville will cover the basics of web design, social media, and email marketing. Throughout the workshop you will build a personalized plan with clear, actionable steps. No technical knowledge is required and most of the tools mentioned in this workshop are free.

11:30am – 12:30pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading/Performance: Yvonne Fisher: Ranting, Raving, and Remembering
This reading and performance feature new stories, slam poems, rants and, by popular demand, a reprise of highlights from stories about her Jewish mother. Yvonne Fisher is a writer, performer, artist, and Psychotherapist. Her stories, “My Jewish Mother,” have been performed locally and regionally.

1:00 - 2:00pm
Buffalo Street Books
Readings: on Gender and Sexuality
Four local and regional women writers read original work dealing with themes of gender and sexuality.  Kate Klein is a writer/editor for Cornell, and author of “Eternal Girl”.  Angelina Mirabella's novel, “The Sweetheart,” is longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the Crook's Corner Book Prize. Heather Dorn will soon graduate with her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Binghamton Univ. Her work can be found in Paterson Literary Review, Ragazine, Kentucky Review, and similar journals. Sarah Jefferis is an author, editor, and mentor based in Ithaca. Her writing consultant business, Write Now, offers writing workshops, copyediting, and public speaking services to writers. She is the author of many books of poetry.

1:00 - 2:00pm
The History Center
Reading: Poet Laureate John Hopper, and Fred Wilcox
From NYC to Ithaca: Two Writers Read
From the 1960s to the present, Fred Wilcox and Jack Hopper (current Tompkins County Poet Laureate) have been swapping yarns and copies of each other's work. Now they reunite to read recent literary reincarnations -- Wilcox with new fiction, Hopper with poetry -- fifty years of a fine madness.  Jack Hopper is an editor and writer, mainly of poetry, and one of the founding editors of Cayuga Lake Books. He has three published collections, most recently "Doubles: Poems 1995-2012."  Fred A. Wilcox is a retired college professor. He has published poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

1:00 – 2:30pm
Community School of Music & Arts
Panel: Developing Characters in Fiction
Fiction’s chief value might lie in how it allows us to find ourselves in people very different from us. But what is it that so connects us to characters in fiction? And how do writers think about the characters they create?  This panel will delve into this subject. Jen Bokal is the author of the best-selling and award winning ancient world historical romance, “The Gladiator’s Mistress.”  Jacob White is the author of the story collection “Being Dead in South Carolina”. He is an assistant professor of Writing at Ithaca College.  Brian Hall is a novelist and nonfiction writer.  His books include “The Saskiad” and “I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company.” Ellen Hartman is a writer of romance and young adult novels.  Sarah Jefferis is an author, editor, and mentor and is the author of many books of poetry.

1:30 – 3:30pm
Community School of Music & Arts
Readings: Works In Progress
Gabriel Urza’s short fiction and essays have been published in Riverteeth, Hobart, The Kenyon Review, West Branch, Slate, Salon, Politico, and other publications. He currently teaches creative writing at Ithaca College. Ryan Chamberlain is a fiction writer and a bookseller at Buffalo Street Books. His prose can be found in Word Riot and The Ithaca Times. Caitlin Hayes’ stories have appeared in Ecotone, New England Review, and The Southern Review. A former fellow at Colgate and the Carson McCullers Center, she’s now working on a novel. Gina Keicher is the author of the poetry collection Wilderness Champion (Gold Wake Press) and the chapbook Here is My Adventure I Call it Alone (Dancing Girl Press). Christine Kitano is the author of Birds of Paradise and the forthcoming collection Sky Country. She is an assistant professor at Ithaca College where she teaches creative writing and literature. David Nutt is a graduate of the MFA program at Syracuse University. His fiction has appeared in The American Reader, Hobart, New York Tyrant, Open City, Green Mountains Review, and Juked.

3:00 – 4:00pm
Buffalo Street Books
Reading: Ithaca City of Asylum Raza Ahmad Rumi
Raza Ahmad Rumi is a scholar in residence at Ithaca College's Honors Program and Ithaca City of Asylum's featured writer. Rumi is a Pakistani author, journalist and a policy specialist. He is the author of “Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveler” (2013) and “The Fractious Path: Pakistan's Democratic Transition” (2016). He is consulting editor The Friday Times (Pakistan). His writings have been published in Foreign Policy, Huffington Post, The New York Times, Aeon Magazine among others. Rumi also contributes to several newspapers and magazines in South Asia and is currently working on a memoir. He will read from his work in progress and will also read some of his political writings on Pakistan and South Asia. The reading will be followed by a Q &A.

3:30 – 5:00pm
The History Center
Readings: Play Time
Join these authors as they read poetry and prose inspired by the theme of Play.  This reading is inspired by the exhibit “Early Toys from the Collection,” an interactive exhibit featuring some of the many toys and games from The History Center in Tompkins County’s collections. Photographs from the Sol Goldberg Collection will be on display as well, highlighting his whimsical portrayal of local people in their playful moments. Learn more about the exhibit at
Brenna Fitzgerald holds an M.F.A. in creative writing. She has published work in Creative Nonfiction, EcoChronicle Sonora, and The Ithaca Times. Jennifer Savran Kelly's fiction has appeared in many literary journals. Jacob White, an assistant professor at Ithaca College, is the author of the story collection “Being Dead in South Carolina.” His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Sewanee Review, Salt Hill, Cimarron Review. Kathryn Henion’s fiction has appeared in Saranac Review and Green Mountains Review, among others. She earned a Ph.D. from Binghamton University, was editor of Harpur Palate, and reads fiction for Drunken Boat.

3:30 – 5:15pm
Community School of Music & Arts
Readings: Stone Canoe/IthacaLit
Co-host Michele Lesko (Ithaca Lit) & Bob Colley (Stone Canoe)
IthacaLit is a quarterly online publication of poetry and visual art. IthacaLit poets and artists represent the diversity in our journey, that mythical Ithaca where we celebrate connection. We ask that you wander through our site & settle in when you find work that speaks to your sense of home in the poems and art we publish. We search not for distance but for connection through a clear and forthright voice & vision. Stone Canoe, founded at Syracuse University and now published by the Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center, publishes poetry, prose, and visual art by current and former residents of Upstate New York. Submissions are accepted March through July; each issue features a panel of new guest editors for each genre. Readers include Renia White, Saviana Stanescu, Jay Leeming, and Katharyn Howd Machan.,

4:00 – 6:00pm
Felicia’s Hive 45 and Bakery
Readings: Writers’ Café : 45 E. Main Street, Trumansburg
Trumansburg’s new restaurant features a selection of local authors.

Bar Argos
Story Hour for Grown-Ups
For this combination story time and craft talk, Ithaca authors Leslie Daniels and Jack Wang choose favorite short stories written by other Ithaca writers to read aloud. And since school is not out quite yet, they will also discuss why they have chosen each one, emphasizing what makes a short story work well. Bar Argos will make a nice assortment of hot toddies available for purchase so that you can get cozy and enjoy being read to. Jack Wang was shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and received the 2014-15 David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship in England. He teaches at Ithaca College. Leslie Daniels’ first novel,  Cleaning Nabokov’s House is under option for film and has been published in translation in four languages. Her career includes a long stint as a literary agent and five years as the fiction editor of Green Mountains Review. Daniels teaches at the Spalding University MFA program and the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.