On their last stop on a literary tour of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Writers’ Project united writers of the Monadnock area on Sept. 14 and 15. The NHWP held a literary festival celebrating and connecting writers and readers alike. The festival held different workshops, readings, and discussions with local and well-known authors and poets.
Alice Fogel, professor of English at Keene State College, writer, poet, and event organizer, said that the NHWP has traveled around the state of New Hampshire for a few years to cities such as Concord and Portsmouth holding events and this is the last in its series.
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She said that it’s “always great when you have a way to bring writers together because sometimes writers feel isolated. There hasn’t been anything quite like this,” Fogel said.
One of the events, titled “Poetry in Windows,” displayed selected poems in storefront windows around Keene, Peterborough, on the Keene State College campus, and around the Monadnock area.
Fogel said she received countless poems and only 26 were selected for display. Among the poems selected was one of her own entitled “House of Cards,” which was on display outside the Toadstool Bookshop, located in the Colony Mill Marketplace.
Fogel, who has been writing since she could make scratches on the page, read several of her own poems, including more in a series of “House” poems, one entitled “Walls.”
This poem personified everyday objects such as doorknobs, walls, and hinges. She said that music, art, language in conversation, science, and information about how the world works, inspires her works of poetry.
On Friday night, the NHWP held a poetry reading with well-known local poets, followed by “Literary Flash: Three Minutes to Fame,” where community members read their own three-minute story in front of judges. The poetry reading showcased local talents such as Martha Carlson-Bradley, Rodger Martin, and Professor Fogel.
Among the headliners, were local writers Eric Poor showcasing his haiku “Awled,” Candace Bergstrom and her poem “Maps,” Leslie Lewis and her two poems “Small Boat” and “The Boat Man.”
However, headliner poets were not the only ones who were given an opportunity to debut their poems; sophomore at Londonderry High School, Emma Breslow performed her spoken word poetry.
She performed one of her poems titled, “Wave” and Sarah Kay’s poem, “Hiroshima.” One of Breslow’s role models, Professor Fogel, invited her to perform her poetry at the event. Fogel and Breslow had been communicating on and off since Breslow was in seventh grade. The correspondence between them began when Breslow wrote Fogel an “absolutely amazing letter,” Fogel said. Breslow wrote the letter after reading one of Fogel’s poems for a project she had in an English class, she said.
They met face-to-face for the first time at the reading on Friday, Sept. 14. Breslow said it was exciting to finally meet an idol of hers.
Fogel now serves as Breslow’s literary mentor and friend as she evolves in writing. “There’s a lot of messages and ideas that I have that I’d like to get to other people. And poetry like the type that I’ve just been getting into recently, spoken word poetry, is more accessible than written poetry for the general audience and I like to get my messages across through that medium,” Breslow said.
She began writing around fourth grade; however, writing became her passion when she joined the writers’ club in sixth grade.
Breslow said she hopes to get her high school involved with Poetry Out Loud, a National Recitation Contest for spoken word poetry.
Fogel said that events like this are good for students aspiring for a career in writing.
“It’s really great to see writers in person, face-to face and to know that they are just regular people like you. And maybe for young adults to be able to feel they can approach them and talk to them about writing and be able to share their work,” Fogel said.
However, poetry was not the sole focus of the event, the event also highlighted other mediums of writing. Author and columnist Joni B. Cole, spoke on Saturday at the Peterborough Town Library. Cole is the author of “Another Bad Dog,” “Toxic Feedback,” among other published works. Cole inspired writers of the area by explaining her personal journey with the writing process.
“The creative process is a process of discovery,” Cole said. And for those writers who have trouble starting and thinking small, rather than focusing on the profound, Cole said, just start writing and you will get there in a way you don’t know.
“I’ve learned to just pay attention to what I’m paying attention to,” Cole said.
“What’s really rewarding is when you see something that you said just clicks with the writer.” When a writer becomes consumed in the words written on their pages, they have no choice but to move forward.
“Writing isn’t meant to exist in rarified circles, just among writers or among other people who are trying to do it. The whole point is to communicate things to everybody, to bring us all together. To create a collective understanding and excitement,” Cole said.
“The more you put writing out there especially from people that are your neighbors, the more we get that point across that everybody has something meaningful to say and entertaining to share. Sometimes we overlook that, and there it is in a store window, how awesome is that? The world is only better by more writing put out there and more writing put out there in a real accessible way,” she said.
Hannah Sundell can be contacted at