I want to thank all of you for welcoming me to the Main Street Arts family as the new Literary Arts Coordinator. As I get to know Clifton Springs, I find that so much of the charm I love about Western New York is present and thriving—and I’m humbled to be part of the work Bradley and Sarah put into integrating the arts here. It’s remarkable that they see literature as integral to the arts and I couldn’t be more excited to share our upcoming events with the rest of you.
For the sake of providing a little background as to what literature means to me and what my experience entails, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature (with a focus in Russian) at the University of Rochester and went on to complete my master’s in English Literature there as well. During my time at the university, I can say that it was the internships and volunteering opportunities with Open Letter Books—a Rochester-based press that publishes literature in translation—that left the greatest impression on me. I learned how prevalent contemporary literature in translation is, why we should all be reading living authors, and diversifying what we read.
While I was completing my master’s degree, I began freelancing for City Newspaper covering the literary community, and interviewing visiting authors. I was granted the opportunity to write a cover story about literary translators in Rochester who bring women’s voices to the spotlight. These translators’ roles are so significant to creating diversity in the literary arts. Marginality in literature has always interested me—the other or the subaltern; who speaks and who is spoken for. Throughout both my graduate and undergraduate careers, I focused on voice and representation. I spoke on two panels in New York (the New York Public Library and Columbia Teachers College) on women and madness in literature. After that, I presented at the University of Johannesburg and co-presented at the Catholic University of Portugal—each on Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera, through the lens of ecofeminism.
But these are just my interests—I want to know what you’re reading: science fiction? nonfiction? Or maybe you’re revisiting Little Women to prepare for the newest film adaptation. I know some people who solely read specific genres of graphic novels or who casually flip through the New Yorker every week. Maybe you listen to books during your long commute or during a run. I want to talk about all of that with you.
For those of you who may be curious, I’m currently reading Joytime Killbox—a collection of short stories by Rochester-based author Brian Wood (which hits shelves October 15th). (Joytime Killbox is published by BOA Editions, also based in Rochester.) I’m also reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, a melancholic and mournful rendering of a difficult relationship with a parent. (Of course, there’s a stack of books on my nightstand waiting to be read.)
With Main Street Arts, I want to bring literature from independent publishers (especially our Western New York neighbors) to the forefront of our growing literary community. Moreover, I want to facilitate an inclusive space where readers can meet authors and poets and discuss what makes a work of fiction or poetry engaging. We will be hosting author visits, poetry readings, fiction workshops, a book club, and film screenings.—so stay tuned for more programs like these, yet to be announced.
Finally, a few fun facts about me: I’m the mother of a thirteen year-old boy who goes to the School of the Arts in Rochester, New York. We try to be adventurous about food, music, art, and by traveling whenever we can. I love a good glass of bubbly. My son and I enjoy camping––there’s no sound I love more than the Adirondack loons at night, paired with the stars during a new moon. But more than anything, I love meeting new people and exchanging ideas. As the saying goes, I’ve never met a stranger—so please come say hello to me at Sulfur Books!