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Saranac Lake, NY—On August 19th & 20th, the Adirondack Center for Writing will present the first annual Kickass Writers Festival, featuring writers, poets, comedians, mountaineers, and more. The festival will take place across various locations all over Saranac Lake and will include readings, workshops, talks, publishing programs, special performances, a book fair, speed dating, and more. The Kickass Writers Festival celebrates how writing and storytelling–in all of their forms–are essential to art, entertainment, and social change.

The two-day event will kick-off Friday, 8/19 at Pendragon Theater with the 2021-2022 New York State Poet, WILLIE PERDOMO. Perdomo will be joined by guest author and member of our visiting faculty, GWEN KIRBY, author of SHIT CASSANDRA SAW.

On Saturday, 8/20 ACW will present mountaineer, memoirist, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, SILVIA VASQUEZ-LAVADO, the first Peruvian woman to climb Mt. Everest, and the first openly gay woman to climb The Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each of the 7 continents). Her debut memoir, In the Shadow of the Mountain tells the story of how an early life of abuse and addiction led her to discover hiking as a method of healing. These pursuits transformed her life and empowered her to not only climb the world’s most challenging summits, but also to found the non-profit, Courageous Girls “...dedicated to healing and empowering survivors of violence and abuse through adventures in nature.” Her memoir is currently being adapted into a major motion picture starring Selena Gomez.

Saturday afternoon will include publishing panels, manuscript consultations, literary arts workshops, and a reading featuring North Country authors from all over the Adirondack region. The festival will close Saturday evening with an installment of North Country’s favorite storytelling event, The Howl Story Slam. Hosted by comedian GREG BARRIS, who will also open the show with a stand-up set, this event offers anyone the chance to tell a short, true, unscripted story live before an audience.

 

GREG BARRIS is an American Comedy Scene Darling who served as a staple in New York’s downtown stand-up scene for years and has opened for comics like Tig Notaro. A frequent Time Out New York Critic’s Pick, much loved by BrooklynVegan and hailed as “Excellent” by The New Yorker, Greg created and hosted the 20 year long-running comedy variety show “Heart of Darkness”. Greg and guitarist / visual artist Dima Drjuchin (Corrupt Autopilot) teamed up to form the Wigmaker’s Son. Together they created a Zappa-meets-Lonely Island pop fantasy comedy album, ‘Greatest Tits’ which also featured friend Reggie Watts. Greg released his debut stand-up album ‘Shame Wave’ on aspecialthing Records and will be releasing a new comedy album on the label in the near future. Greg now lives L.A. where you can find him on stages across the city and beyond.

GWEN E. KIRBY’S debut collection Shit Cassandra Saw is available from Penguin Books wherever books are sold. She hails from San Diego and is a proud graduate of Carleton College. She has an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Programs and Finance for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference at the University of the South, where she also teaches creative writing. Kirby’s stories appear or are forthcoming in One Story, Tin House, Guernica, Mississippi Review, Ninth Letter, Blackbird, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Guest editor Aimee Bender selected her story “Shit Cassandra Saw . . .” for Best Small Fictions 2018 and it also appears in the 2018 Wigleaf Top 50. Her story “Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories” won the 2017 DISQUIET Literary Prize for Fiction. She has received two Pushcart Prize special mentions and has been awarded scholarships to the Rivendell Writers’ Colony and the Sundress Academy for the Arts. She was the 2018-2019 George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy.

WILLIE PERDOMO is a prize-winning poet and children’s book author who examines and celebrates the Nuyorican and Afro-Latino experience, primarily in his home neighborhood of Spanish Harlem. His poetry collections include Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (1996), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award; Smoking Lovely (2004, revised 2021), winner of the PEN/Open Book Award; The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (2014), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and The Crazy Bunch (2019), which chronicles a weekend in the life of a group of East Harlem friends in the 1990s. Perdomo is also the co-editor of a recent anthology, Latínext (2020), a celebration of work by emerging Latinx poets who represent an array of nationalities, genders, sexualities, races, and writing styles. His books for children include Clemente! (2016), about Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and Visiting Langston (2005), winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor, about a young girl’s visit to the home of Harlem poet Langston Hughes. A core faculty member at VONA/Voices of our Nation Writing Workshop, he teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.

SILVIA VASQUEZ-LAVADO was born and raised in Lima, Peru as a child she endured a period of sexual violence that would haunt her for much of her adult life. Nearly 30 years later, while attending a meditation retreat in Peru, she had a vision of reconnecting to her inner child and the two of them walking in a valley surrounded by mountains. This propelled her to journey through the Himalayas and reach the base of Mount Everest. It was a revelation –“The shadow of the mountain was the only thing big enough to swallow my shadow.” Silvia developed a sense of resilience, strength, compassion – and finally rediscovered her courage.

 


PUBLISHING PROFESSIONALS

 

Victoria Dillman

Victoria Dillman is an Associate Agent at Howland Literary. Prior to Howland, she was an assistant and foreign rights associate at Sobel Weber Associates and an intern at Linda Leith Publishing, as well as a reader for the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Awards. She holds a B.A. in English from McGill University, and an MFA in Fiction from The New School. Victoria is most interested in adult literary/upmarket fiction and narrative and expert-driven nonfiction. She would particularly like to hear from underrepresented communities including neurodivergent, queer, and BIPOC voices.

 

KATIE RAISSIAN is a senior editor at Grove Atlantic, where she acquires and edits literary fiction and nonfiction.

 

REGINA BROOKS is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, based in Brooklyn, New York. Her agency has represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. Writer’s Digest magazine named Serendipity Literary Agency as one of the top 25 literary agencies in 2004.  Prior to opening her own agency, Ms. Brooks held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons (where she was not only the youngest but also the first African-American editor in their college division) and McGraw-Hill.

 

SORCHE FAIRBANK | A small, selective agency and member of AALA (formerly the AAR), the Author’s Guild, the Agents Round Table, PEN, and Grub Street’s Literary Advisory Council, Fairbank Literary Representation is happily entering its twentieth year. Clients range from first-time authors to international best-sellers, prize winning-journalists to professionals at the top of their fields. They can be found with all the major publishers, as well as in the New York Times, Harper’s, the Atlantic, the New Yorker, Granta, Best American Short Stories, and more.

Sorche Fairbank’s tastes tend toward literary and international fiction with a soft spot for smart voice-y novels with a strong sense of place and perspectives that can’t help but shift and enlarge the reader’s understanding; big memoir that goes beyond the me-moir; topical or narrative non-fiction with a strong interest in women’s voices, un and under told histories, global perspectives, and class and race issues; children’s picture books & middle grade from illustrator authors only; quality lifestyle books (food, wine, and design); pop culture; and surprising gift and humor books. She is most likely to pick up works that are of social or cultural significance, newsworthy, or that cause her to take great delight in the words, images, or ideas on the page.

 

Kristen Renee Miller is the incoming director and editor-in-chief at Sarabande Books. A poet and translator, her work has appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, DIAGRAM, jubilat, and Best New Poets. She is the 2020 winner of the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the translator of two books from the French by poet Marie-Andrée Gill. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Literary Translators Association. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.