First-ever public reading planned for NYS Writers Institute Community Writers Workshop

Do you have a fear of public speaking? What could make it worse? How about reading your poetry in public? Yikes!

Participants in the NYS Writers Institute Community Writers Workshop will complete their poetry course with a public reading 7 p.m. Monday, July 8, at Troy Kitchen, 77 Congress Street in Troy. 

The event, free and open to the public, marks the first time that NYS Writers Institute workshop participants will give a public reading. 


The Spring 2019 Community Writers Workshop participants. Back row from left, Eliana Rowe, Jeffrey Aaron Stubits, Melissa Hurt, instructor D. Colin, Amy Nedeau, Stephanie Nolan, Karin Lin-Greenberg and Phyllis Hillinger. Front row, Linda Berkery, Michael Janairo, Patti Croop and Lynn Trudeau.

Missing from the photo are Matresa Flowers, Daniel Gorman, Kendall Hoeft and Annika Nerf.

(Photo by Paul Grondahl)

Poet D. Colin, who taught the workshop, empathizes with her 15 students. "It's not that I don't get nervous anymore. I do. However it's about perspective," said Colin. "The nerves only mean that I care about what is happening between me and the audience. It's about redirecting what could be chaos into intention." 

Colin holds a master's degree in Africana Studies and is working on a second master’s in English at UAlbany. She is the author of Dreaming in Kreyol, a collection of poems and prose paying homage to her Haitian heritage and history. She founded the Poetic Vibe poetry series in Troy and competed at the National Poetry Slam in 2012 and 2018.

The workshop met on Mondays starting in April at the Troy Public Library, marking the first time the Writers Institute held its annual workshop away from its home at the University at Albany. "We moved our Community Writers Workshop to Troy this year as part of our ongoing effort to grow and diversify our audiences," said Director Paul Grondahl. "We’re also proud to offer this writing opportunity free of charge for poetry lovers here in the Capital Region." 

During the course, students learned various techniques of writing poetry and read their work in front of the class. While practice in the classroom calms some nerves, there's sure to be some anxiety when reading poetry on a stage in front of strangers. Colin's advice: "I encourage poets reading or performing for the first time to know the audience is rooting for them, to remember why they are reading and to believe intrinsically that they are often the voice for folks who are still finding the language for their own experiences."

The Community Writers Workshop participants are Linda Berkery of Latham; Patti Croop of Middle Grove; Matresa Flowers of Albany; Daniel Gorman of Albany; Phyllis Hillinger of Delmar; Kendall Hoeft of Troy; Melissa Hurt of Delmar; Michael Janairo of Delmar; Karin Lin-Greenberg of Halfmoon; Amy Nedeau of Waterford; Annika Nerf of Round Lake; Stephanie Nolan of Ballston Spa; Eliana Rowe of Guilderland Center; Jeffrey Aaron Stubits of Albany; and Lynn Trudeau of Amsterdam.

The NYS Writers Institute offers free Community Writers Workshop programs as part of its role "to encourage the development of writing skills at all levels of education throughout the state," according to legislation signed into law by Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1984.

Previous workshop instructors have included poets Carolyn Forche, John Montague, Joan Murray and Ed Sanders; fiction writers Elizabeth Benedict, Angela Carter, Lydia Davis and James Lasdun; and nonfiction writers Marion Roach Smith, LeAnne Schreiber and Richard Selzer.