Literary Hook: Exploring writing venues in our own back yard

Last week, we started to look at places to publish your work. One of my favorite venues for writers is the contest that includes a reading. Sometimes this reading is at a museum, possibly an art gallery, or even a college campus.

The winners of the Rock River Poetry Contest in the 1990s sometimes gave readings at the Rockford Art Museum, under the umbrella of “Expanding Boundaries.” The contest will be held again this summer, and is looking for a reading venue. This column will keep you posted about the Rock River Poetry Contest. Stay tuned for details.

Another such venue is PoetsWest, a group that offers quarterly readings at the Frye Museum in Seattle. Contest winners are featured, along with a musical group, for a Sunday afternoon of music and poetry. Although a chapbook of the winners’ works used to be published, now PoetsWest, under the apt direction of J. Glenn and Barbara Evans, features poetry online. In addition, they provide a comprehensive calendar of literary events in the Seattle area. To access them, simply type PoetsWest into your Web browser and go from there. You can e-mail them at

Nearer to home is a very interesting art/poetry venue I have recently become involved with: Woman Made Gallery, 685 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. They have a Web site and can be reached at Along with their art shows, which have Friday openings, they also have poetry events and Sundays that go along with the particular exhibit.

Following are upcoming events with a call for manuscripts:

“Here Comes the Bride”/Reading and book release party

Calling for poems by women whose work explores the theme and ritual of weddings and related ceremonies. Readers will be chosen by Lauren Levato, who will read from her first book, Marriage Bones. If your work is selected, you must be available to read at Woman Made Gallery, Sunday, May 21 between 2-4 p.m. Submission deadline: April 1. For more information, e-mail

“Proof of Membership”/Reading

Calling for poems by women and men about the theme of membership. Think exclusion/inclusion/outsider; group/solitary; but the theme is open to interpretation and experience. The reading is Sunday, Aug. 20. The deadline is July 1. Again, e-mail

Barnes & Noble happenings

We will take a look at other venues for publishing in this series, but first let’s check out the following literary happenings at Barnes & Noble, right here in Rockford:

Friday, March 24, 7 p.m.—Fictional Genres with H.B. Huisinga, Deracination, and Patricia Brandt, The Octagonal Room. “Both books have an underlying thread of personal violence in the characters’ lives.” And Things That Go: “Today’s story time will be filled with being on the go with Thomas Goes Fishing by Rev. W. Awdry and Emergency! by Margaret Mayo. We will have an action-filled time.”

Tuesday, March 28, 10 a.m.—Weekly Story Time/Spring Time: Is Spring in the Air? “As we move into spring, we will be reading the Mouse’s First Spring by Lauren Thompson and B is for Bunny: A Springtime Alphabet Book by Tanya Lee Stone.”

Friday, March 31, 7 p.m.—Reading/discussion. Jim and Marion Applegate, Symphony of Spirits. “This evening, we will join Jim and Marion Applegate for a historical fiction night. We will discuss how to start with unusual or remarkable situations when writing in this genre.”

Barnes & Noble is at 6685 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61108.

Whether you are looking to listen, be inspired, learn something, or find a publishing venue, there is a great deal to choose from in your own back yard.

Editor’s note: The Rock River Times reviewed Symphony of Spirits in its Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2005, issue.

From the March 22-28, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!