At ACW, we’ve had a commitment to supporting and highlighting LGBTQ+ authors ever since our inception 25 years ago. Over the years, we’ve brought countless queer writers to the Adirondacks to teach, perform, and inspire a love of writing for all.
This past June, ACW helped to program the Tri-Lakes Pride Festival in Saranac Lake by hosting two unique, LGBTQ-focused events in our space. We also joined the Sunday, June 25 festival as a sponsor and set up a table where attendees of the festival could discover free poems in our Poetry Machine, craft poems on our magnetic sign, and learn about all of our upcoming classes, events, and programs.
The weekend began with a free, drop-in writing workshop on Saturday, June 24, led by transmasculine poet, Elliot Pecora. “Exploring Transgender Poetics” is part of Pecora’s ongoing project, Rural Transpoetics, which aims to highlight the aesthetics, topics, and philosophies that undergird the work of trans poets to inspire and educate people living in non-urban areas of upstate New York. Adirondack Center for Writing is the first venue to host Pecora, and we were proud to introduce him to a room full of attendees from across the gender spectrum. The workshop involved getting to know one another, reading and discussing the work of trans writers like Yanyi and Stacey Waite, and then taking time to write and share new work.
“This poem made me think about the body as an ecosystem, or as a habitat…” one attendee said, which prompted another writer to bring up the idea of how migratory species break up ideas about “nativeness” and how the place you’re born into isn’t always the place in which you end up living the majority of your life. Metaphors abounded and sense of enlightenment bounced around the room for the entire 90 minutes.
Pecora created a patient, open, and supportive environment for attendees, and many stayed afterward to talk more and have lunch together. Pecora was interviewed by NCPR’s Monica Sandreczki about transpoetics the day before the workshop. Find the full interview here.
“Two main points of what I’m trying to do with my project is just encourage as much community as I can among trans poets, and then as much self-expression as I can, especially for, for young trans poets who might be trying to figure out how to express themselves just like I was. Poetry was just a huge coping mechanism. Sometimes it’s difficult to even figure out what you’re feeling until you’re able to write it out. I’m hoping that the workshops are able to help out a lot of different people and just kind of be a place where they can feel safe to fully self-express.” – Pecora on NCPR’s Story of the Day (June 23, 2023)
Later in the evening, ACW hosted a Pride-themed open mic, welcome to all, as a way of kicking off the Tri-Lakes Pride Festival which would begin with a parade the following Sunday morning. We welcomed twenty attendees and eight performers who got on the mic to share poems about the body and desire, essays about meeting partners and celebrating queer marriage, and a gripping tale of mountain-top rescues by trans forest ranger, Robbi Mecus. The evening brought laughter, tears, and new friendships.
Finally, on Sunday, we joined the dozens of other organizations who sponsored the Tri-Lakes Pride Festival by setting up a table in Riverfront Park in Saranac Lake. At the ACW booth, festival attendees were treated to free poems from the Poetry Machine, writing prompts at the table, and magnetic poetry on our sandwich board sign. ACW’s Program Manager, Tyler Barton, alongside Elliot Pecora, spoke with over 100 visitors to the table. We also sold copies of the Wild Words Teen Writing Anthology and distributed information about all of ACW’s exciting summer events, such as our 5-week Screenwriting class with Kirk Sullivan, our first ever kids writing camp in August, and the author event with NYT Bestselling YA murder-mystery author, Karen McManus.
ACW looks forward to next June for Tri-Lakes Pride 2024, as we plan to host another workshop and open mic in order to give the queer community in the ADKs a place to write their stories and have them be heard.