Hobart Village Festival of Women Writers
Hobart Festival of Women Writers Organizers’ Contact Info:
Cheryl Clarke, http://www.cherylclarkepoet.com/contact/
Breena Clarke, http://www.breenaclarke.com/content/contact.asp
Festival Link: http://www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.com/
Please briefly describe your gathering.
Breena Clarke: The Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers began as an idea in 2012 and was first held on the weekend of September 9-11, 2013 in Hobart, New York. Hobart has six independent bookstores along one street at the center of the village. It is officially known as the Reading Capitol of New York State. My sister, Cheryl Clarke, and her partner, Barbara Balliet, own an independent bookstore here, Blenheim Hill Books. Cheryl, Barbara, and I are the official co-organizers of the Festival – and we coordinate a Festival Planning Committee of local residents that meets monthly year round to plan the Festival. A core group of founding participating writers have helped us grow.
How do you feel your gathering is AROHO-inspired?
Breena Clarke: I believe the idea developed as a direct result of my involvement with A Room of Her Own Foundation. I’ve been a part of that organization since the first retreat in 2003. Our 2013 Festival included AROHO writers Mary Johnson, Marianela Medrano and Esther Cohen. We brought some of the magic of the desert to Hobart and, of course, the Catskills have their own magic. We’ve come to know the upstate New York women’s writing community as well as New York City women writers.
What was your original goal and did you accomplish it?
Breena Clarke: From the beginning, we’ve wanted the Festival to be an opportunity to celebrate the women’s writing communities, to put women’s writing in the forefront and invite all lovers of language and buyers of books to come and listen to readings and participate in workshops. We have had some wonderful writers with us. And serendipity has brought us so many more writing sisters. I feel we’ve expanded and cross-pollinated with AROHO. We’re totally independent. We’re focused entirely on our three-day festival in our town.
What about your gathering makes it unique?
Breena Clarke: Darlene Chandler-Bassett and Mary Johnson, the founders of AROHO, had a good idea. At some point, if you want to have a thing, you have to stand up and say, “Okay I’m going to do this. Anybody with me?” Then you have to ask the right people. It helps to have guidance and it helps to build from a strong community core. Add more people by making a bigger circle, not creating a hierarchy.