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What we did last summer (and fall, winter, and spring): Newtown Literary's 2017 Year in Review

Five Years On

In 2017, Newtown Literary Alliance celebrated its 5th(!) anniversary, and the full calendar of events reflected its growing presence in the Queens literary scene. This year we published issues 10 and 11 of Newtown Literary, which has featured over 200 contributors since its inception. We also expanded the number of free writing classes and held events and readings throughout the borough.

Free Writing Classes

Writers studied and practiced their craft with some of the best writers in Queens. Each class focused on a particular theme, craft technique, or element of poetry, memoir, essay or fiction writing. Thanks to Queens Library and NYC Council Members Daniel Dromm and Elizabeth Crowley, the classes were open to the public free of charge.

There were separate classes for adults, and for kids and teens, with the latter aimed at, and divided by, age group.

Kids and Teens Classes

- January 21: "Transforming the Mundane Into Magic: Using Metaphor In Poetry And Prose," Queens Library at Ridgewood (Instructor: Alexander Radison, Assistant Editor at Newtown Literary)

- March 11: "Made To Be Broken - How To Break The Rules Of Writing," Queens Library at Jackson Heights (Instructor: Bard Hovenga, Writer and Queens high school English teacher)

- March 23: "Building Blocks: World Building Workshop," Queens Library at Jackson Heights (Instructor: Jennifer Baker, editor of the forthcoming short story collection Everyday People)

- April 22: "The Poetry That I Am: Poetry Basics," Queens Library at Ridgewood (Instructor: Valerie Keane, founder of Poetry and Coffee)

- April 29: "Write The Change You Want To See In the World: A Speculative Fiction Writing Class," Queens Library at Jackson Heights. (Instructor: Christina Tesoro, a writer, educator, and a Lambda Literary Fellow)

- November 18: "Inventing New Wor(l)ds," Queens Library at Ridgewood (Instructor: Sherese Francis, writer, blogger, and literary curator)

- December 9: "What a Character!" Queens Library at Ridgewood (Instructor: Nadia Q. Ahmad, former Program Associate at the American Asian Writer's Workshop)

Adult Classes

- January 7: "Writing From The Gut," Queens Library at Jackson Heights (Instructor: Norman Stock, author of Buying Breakfast for My Kamikaze Pilot and Pickled Dreams Naked)

- February 4: "Show vs. Tell," Queens Library at Maspeth (Instructor: Patricia Park, author of Re Jane)

- March 4: "How to Commune with Ghosts," Queens Library at Ridgewood (Instructor: Roberto Montes, author of I Don't Know Do You)

-April 1: "Code Switching: Writing From Multiple Selves," Queens Library at Elmhurst (Instructor: Rosebud Ben-Oni, author of Solecism)

- May 6: "Places Are Characters Too," Queens Library at Elmhurst (Instructor: Joe Okonkwo, author of Jazz Moon)

- November 4: "Writing Conflict," Queens Library at Jackson Heights (Instructor: Jill Eisenstadt, author of From Rockaway and Swell)

- December 2: "Never Have Writer's Block Again," Queens Library at Jackson Heights (Instructor: Scott Cheshire, author of High as the Horses Bridles)


- April 8: Poetic Queens, Queens Library at Sunnyside with Sherese Francis, Omatara James, Belal Mobarak, Meera Nair, Norman Stock, and Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.

- April 22: Poetic Queens, Queens Library at the Richmond Hill with Rosebud Ben-Oni, Ricardo Hernandez, Esther Lin, Sahar Muradi, and Luba Ostashevesky.

- June 25: Newtown Literary issue #10 launch reading, Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Emceed by Founding Editor and Executive Director Tim Fredrick with assists by Bard Hovenga and Sherese Francis, featuring contributors Rob Hill, Omotara James, Meghan E.B. Lin, and Phil Demise Smith.

- August 1: Prose Night in Jackson Heights, at Espresso 77, emceed by Newtown Literary prose editor Joe Okonkwo (winner of the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction), featuring contributors Will Schwartz, Jackie De Dios, Bea Cohen and Russel Ricard.

- Boundless Tales. This venerable reading series, created by Aida Zilelian, joined forces with Newtown Literary Alliance this year. It will continue to showcase emerging writers in Queens at quarterly readings at The Local NYC in Long Island City.

- December 8: Newtown Literary issue #11 launch reading, with a standing-room only audience filled Kew and Willow Books in Kew Gardens. The event was was emceed by Russel Ricard and featured readers Alina Shen, Basia Winograd, Mark Donnelly, Pichchenda Bao, Treena Thibodeau and Maura Lee Bee.

Events and Competitions

- May 20-21: Queens Writes Weekend: 17 events held over the course of a single weekend at various venues across the borough.Writers were invited to be inspired and write for a few hours in local coffee houses, parks, restaurants, museums and homes. A once-a-year opportunity to meet with new friends, reconnect with old ones and jump start your writing. The opening reading was held at Astoria Bookshop and the closing reading open mic was held at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst.

- July 16: Writing From Art: An Ekphraistic Tour of Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria. A combination tour/reading/writing session. Participants were invited to view art, be inspired to write, listen to contributors and enjoy the company of fellow writers and literary folk from the borough.

- July 29-30: New York City Poetry Festival: The NL crew had a table at the two-day event at Governor's Island and hosted a reading at the famed Algonquin stage.

- November 18: Newtown Literary Book Trivia Night: Our principal fundraiser for the year. Everyone had a rollicking good time at Break Bar and Billiards in Astoria and raised money for a worthwhile cause. This year's winner was team No, You Tell It

- November 18: "Found in Translation" at the Lewis H. Latimer House Museum in Flushing. Facilitator Richard Jeffrey Newman, author of Words For What These Men Have Done, led a poetry workshop on the poetry translation process with poets Margaret Carson, Chia-Lun Chang, and Kyoo Lee.

- Queens Young Authors and Poets Contest, a biennial contest: Newtown Literary began accepting submissions of poetry and fiction in six categories. The contest opened in September and closes in March 2018. Prizes include print publication in the spring/summer issue of Newtown Literary and certificates of achievement. All winners are invited to read their work at the QYA&P award ceremony next June.


Several of our staff and board members celebrated new book releases and awards.

Sokunthary Svay, Poetry Editor, released her debut book of poetry, Apsara In New York.

Joe Okonkwo, Fiction Editor, was awarded the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction for his novel Jazz Moon.

Richard Jeffrey Newman, on the Board of Directors of the Newtown Literary Alliance, released his book Words For What Those Men Have Done.

Heather Talty, Managing Editor, had a short story "Dear H.C. Andersen" published in NonBinary Review.


Submissions for Issue #12 are still open till 1/10/18.

Something to watch out for in 2018: Our brand new #QueensWrites podcast!

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