When is the last time you experienced being read aloud to (by some of the finest fiction writers, reading from their own work)?
An audience of eighty people at Larchmont Temple had that pleasure on Sunday when the Friends of the Larchmont Public Library hosted the launch for the fourth edition of The Westchester Review, a literary journal published annually.
"Our mission is to promote writers," says founder and publisher JoAnn Duncan Terdiman.
The Westchester Review is a compilation of poetry and prose from emerging and established writers living or working in the county. This year's edition contains a first: an interview with international author Cynthia Ozick, a New Rochelle resident, discussing her creative process.
The review makes an effort to highlight authors from the area in which a reading is held. Sunday's showed that our Sound Shore area has a literary concentration. Three editors (Amy Ralston Seife, Lesleigh Forsyth, and Ruth Obernbreit) live in Larchmont. Of the eleven authors reading, four were from Larchmont, two from Mamaroneck, and one each from New Rochelle and Rye.
"It's remarkable for a literary journal to survive in these times with what's going on with the written word. But more than survive, we're thriving," said Larchmont editor Amy Ralston Seife. "We're getting more and more submissions, and already getting ready for the 5th year."
On Sunday, authors from 16 to 75 read poetry and prose. Many are award winners and teachers. Twenty-nine writers are in the review.
Before the reading, Terdiman explained that she helped begin the journal with Louise Albert, editor in chief emerita, when they were in a White Plains writers group, "bowled over" by the level of local talent and surprised at the paucity of outlets.
Referring to the county's population of about 956,000, Terdiman says, "That's quite a talent pool. Just as there's a Southern literary voice, or a Midwestern one, we're looking for a Westchester voice. I think there is one."
That voice included Lya Ferreyra, 16, a tenth-grader at Rye Neck High School who won the Rye Arts Center's Edgar Poe Mystery Writing Contest.
In addition to being a Westchester Review editor, Lesleigh Forsyth is a Larchmont poet who began with, "I think poems withhold secrets until we read them more than once. So I'm going to read this one twice."
Missy Egan Wey, Larchmont, said her poem was fifteen years in the making. "A woman finds a portrait in her mother's attic and remembers an incident from her childhood." Wey is a member of the National League of American PEN Women. Her short poem stirred deep reaction.
David Carlyon, a Larchmont resident who's a former Army vet, ex-circus clown and Equity actor, won the Washington Irving Award for his book Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You've Never Hear of. "My poem is only eight lines long," Carlyon said, "but it required eight editing conversations."
"Usually I don't get to meet the other writers, so I imagine them in my head," said short-story writer John Thomas Murphy. Echoing group sentiment he said, "Meeting these people today is really cool."
Anyone inspired to begin writing fiction can try Terdiman's advice. "The trick is, don't be scared."
Others reading included Elizabeth Meaney, Mamaroneck; Dale Walkonen, New Rochelle; Kristina Bicher, Rye; A.H.Block, Bronxville; Marlena Marduro Baraf, Scarsdale; Steven Lewis, New Palz.
The Westchester Review is scheduling more readings. Tarrytown is in the works; White Plains Library on June 9th at 7 p.m. Confirmed schedule will be found on www.westchesterreview.com and on the review's new Facebook page.
The Westchester Review is available at Anderson's Book Shop and Futterman's Stationery.