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Millbrook Literary Festival Splash

with a bit of art in Wassaic
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sun May 21st, 2017

Robin Lavery, Howard Massey, and Elaine Khosrosa

As spring sunshine poured golden, the Millbrook Library hosted the 9th annual literary festival with Merritt Bookstore. An array of varied writers spoke at the library where outside two tents of books enjoyed pleasant weather. The tent for young adult and children’s books was well-stocked with colorful books. Workshops for various aspects of writing from beginners to advanced were well-attended. The logistics of this undertaking required keen organization and diligent work. Many worked behind the scenes to produce this marvelous event, especially bookseller Kira Wizner and librarian Stephanie Harrison.

Nationally acclaimed writer Min Jin Lee had her latest novel Pachinko. Not only is she an excellent writer, but a wonderful, open person. Her new novel presents the saga of a Korean family living in Japan. Reading this novel is like donning bifocals in a strange that is land full of intimacy. From Woodstock legendary behind-the-scenes pop music maverick Howard Massey was there with an array of his books, including his new novel Roadie. Joe Bruchac, Evan Pritchard, and Molly McGennen launched their new anthology of Native American poets, Tending the Fire. The Hudson Valley Writers Workshop was represented by Robin Lavery; they meet twice a month in Wappingers; anyone interested can email them at

G.A. “Moby” Mudge offered a talk about photographing statues in Manhattan. Elaine Khosrova spoke about the history of butter over four continents. The history of the Underground Railroad during slavery was highlighted. Thrillers and spy novels were discussed. Author panels discussed an array of issues. Young writers were showcased. The perils of globe-trotting photography were addressed by Clark Worswick. Karen Orloff spoke on the window of life offered by the personal essay.

The whole project was probably too much for everyone to absorb. An array of poets gathered throughout the day to read at Rose Randolph Cookies (across from the library on Franklin Street) during the course of the day: Lucia Cherciu, Meg Kearney, Gail Carson Levine, Evan Pritchard, Jo Pitkin—all hosted by poets Jan Egry and Ryan Murphy.

Every year hundreds of people attend from the greater area. Local restaurants were filled to capacity. Significant financial underwriting (from a number of patrons) helps support this event. If you wish to find out more about this event, go to They are also on Facebook.

Later in the afternoon, Maxton Mills in Wassaic celebrated the annual spring opening of its extravaganza for artists which began with a local parade, bake sale, and professional tap-dancing trope that did not miss a step in over a half hour of jig, reels, hip-hop dance steps choreographed in lively manner. After that marvelous display of dancing, I enjoyed a chat with painter Steve Belkin whose work is currently in display at the W. David Herman Gallery on the Kent Green in Connecticut.

Due to a family emergency, I did not make it up to the top of the Mill, but in passing over what I did see, I noted an expert watercolor by Jee Hwang that was breathtaking, some fine abstracts by Joel Foster, and lively digital prints by Nebraska-born Ella Weber, whose work was wittily satiric with original ideas of perspective and color. Like the Millbrook Literary Festival, the work of fifty-three artists was difficult to absorb at a single go, but the exhibit will remain through the summer and it constitutes an entertaining local trip with a friend or two. And yes, there is some real talent on display this year.