Queens, In Their Own Words
By Jen Khedaroo
Queens has always been home to talented writers, such as Arthur Buchwald, Anne Hosansky and Martin Scorsese. And with a growing presence of writers living and working in Queens, there has been an abundance of literary groups and writers’ workshops popping up around the borough in recent years. The formation and expansion of these groups has cultivated a writing renaissance in the literary scene.
While completing a short story, novel or script can seem daunting, workshops and readings can help to improve a writer’s skills through community input. Writers are able to grow through the facilitation of relationships with people who share similar skills, interests and goals.
Many writers use social media networking sites, such as Meetup, to find local peers. Astoria Writer’s Group, founded in November 2012, meets every Sunday evening at Panera Bread to critique two pieces of work written previously by the group’s members. Feedback often includes what group members found to be moving, inspirational or provoking within a piece.
The Writers’ Collaborative of Queens, founded in December 2013, meets multiple times a week at Caffe Bene. Besides providing feedback for works up to 10 pages long during their “Critique, Goal Setting & Craft Discussion” meetings, the writers also share their goals for the week as well as their experiences with writing obstacles.
In the group’s Just Write! workshop on Fridays, members jumpstart and hone their skills by writing for 10 minutes without stopping. Then the ten minutes is up, members share what they wrote before the process repeats.
Local bookstores have also done a great deal to support area writers. Many, such as Astoria Bookshop, provide a number of adult workshops, a creative writing workshop for children and quite a few reading series.
Tim Fredrick, author of We Regret to Inform You and the founding editor of the journal Newtown Literary, has participated and hosted a few reading series at Astoria Bookshop. In fact, Fredrick, who also teaches at a Long Island City school, founded Newtown Literary after meeting several fellow writers at various readings.
He stressed that while there is a lot of great writing being produced in Queens, many people may not have taken notice because writers haven’t connected with each other.
“I’ve been writing in Queens since I moved here, but it wasn’t until the past few years that I really started meeting other writers and made these connections,” Fredrick said. “I realized that we should probably create a written record of what’s happening here.”
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