On August 19 & 20th, ACW hosted the first ever Kickass Writers Festival at venues all over Saranac Lake. With 200+ registrants and over 400 total attendees across our dozen events, hundreds of books sold by our local bookstore SL Book Nook, and dozens of regional and national writers and publishing professionals featured, we’re counting the weekend as a giant success. Don’t take our word for it. See what attendees and faculty had to say below, and enjoy some beautiful photos by Mark Kurtz, Katelin Guerin (Adirondack Daily Enterprise), and ACW staff.

First, read about the 2022 Kickass Writers Festival in the news:

FRIDAY – 8/19 – Pendragon Theatre – NYS Poet Laureate, Willie Perdomo + Gwen Kirby

“The Willie Perdomo + Gwen Kirby reading and signing was outstanding. Meeting so many talented and dedicated authors of every genre and generation was inspiring. I am so glad I attended.  I learned so much that I did not know.” – Dennis Brogan, festival attendee

“We wish all young people would have a chance, as did the festival audience, to hear New York State Poet Willie Perdomo, whose crisp, relatable works shrink the distance between poetry and reader. His observation that “memories are art” lead to gritty yet strangely upbeat works, where we’re left to wonder, say, whether we should buy a worthless trinket from a guy on the street because at least he’s not selling drugs. Perdomo is the poet on the airplane you definitely want to strike up a conversation with.” – The Sun Editorial Board

Saturday Morning: Baker Mountain Hike with Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, Attendee Speed Dating at ACW, Learn it from a Local Panel at ACW, Kickass Bookfair at SL Free Library,

“When my book sold to the publisher, I told my agent my dream was to lead nature walks and hikes that ended with a book talk at the summit. They laughed at me. Then, I got a call about the chance to come to a place called the Adirondacks and do exactly that. There were three women on the hike who came all the way from Virginia for this festival, and they got up at 6am to meet the twelve of us at the trailhead. It was a dream come true, and I look forward to doing it again!” – Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, keynote speaker who led a hike up Baker Mountain for attendees at 7am on the morning of the second day of the festival

“I never knew Saranac Lake has such a great arts community. There was so much going on at the same time with the Plein Air competition and all of the festival events. I especially enjoyed the Mt. Baker hike with Silvia!” – Attendee

Saturday Morning: Workshops with Visiting Faculty, Greg Barris, Sue Halpern, Gwen Kirby, and Willie Perdomo

“Writing can seem like it’s confined to academia, but having a festival like this takes that perception away and gives people the chance to meet other people in their community with the same passions and excitement that they do.” – Gwen Kirby, visiting faculty

“This was a wonderful conference! Lots of practical, useful, hands on opportunities, especially the manuscript consultations, and the pitch workshop. Willie Perdomo is an excellent teacher – get him to come back every year!” – festival attendee

“I loved everyone’s different perspectives on stories and different ways people approach it. But also, I love a writing prompt that doesn’t just get me writing but also makes me look at myself as I’m writing.” – Kate Tooley, festival attendee

Saturday Afternoon: How to Pitch with Regina Brooks at ACW, Erasure + Nature Writing at ArtRise, and Regional Author Showcase

“Regina Brooks was great even in the zoom format. She is a good listener and awesome at giving feedback, and was very informative to start with.” – festival attendee

“I’m not a writer but wanted to come with my daughter (who I hope one day will be) just to expose her to the festival. We both had a great time. Excellent organization!” – festival attendee

“I loved learning about a new form of poetry, erasure poetry. And the session with the Regina. So valuable!” – festival attendee

“I loved the throbbing feeling of writers bustling around town all day on Saturday! It felt so ALIVE! I was honored to be invited as part of the readings and enjoyed that very much. A full house!” – Fran Yardley, Regional Writers Showcase guest

“What a great space! (The Garagery in Saranac Lake. Thank you Adam!). What a great group of writers! What terrific organization to put on a city wide KickAss Live Fest. Nathalie Costa Thill and Tyler Barton are fabulous. Adirondack Center for Writing really nailed it.” —Mary Sanders Shartle, host of the Regional Writers Showcase

“The entire spirit of the event was joyous and uplifting. Everyone I met was having the best time. The readers were excellent and the events so fun. When I mentioned that I was on the board, it was like being royalty as attendees wanted to express their gratitude for this festival.” – Sherri York, ACW board member

HOWL STORY SLAM hosted by Greg Barris – Saturday, 8/20

“I especially loved the amazing lighting and performances at the Howl Story Slam!” – festival attendee

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