Vaughn Hardacker here: In an effort to increase interest in writing in Maine’s northernmost county Alice Bolstridge took it upon herself to contact Sonja Eyler, director of the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, about the feasibility of holding a couple of events that she labeled Local Writers At The Library. The first night five writers showed up and expressed a desire to do more. At the next MW&PA GATHER Alice announced that she was was scheduled to take a four month sabbatical and asked if anyone would be willing to take over during that period–I volunteered.
I was contacted by Melissa Lizotte, a local newspaper reporter, who asked if she could attend for the purpose of writing an article to appear in the local papers. We of course gave her our approval. The article appeared in The Aroostook Republican (Caribou) and The Star Herald (Presque Isle) and can be found at http://thecounty.me/2018/01/16/news/local-writers-share-work-encourage-others-at-presque-isle-library/. We have held two events since the January one and due to the publicity five area writers have contacted me about joining us. All of them have expressed the same desire–to create a fellowship of published and unpublished writers here in the north country. Thus far Alice’s idea has grown from a group of six writers to now have a mailing list of 33 writers here in the county.
The work presented thus far has covered a broad spectrum; everything from poetry to memoir, Aroostook-centric short work to thriller novels. To be frank the talent and skill of these writers (Talk about being grandiose, I was convinced there weren’t but a few writers in the county and most of those were either faculty or students at the local colleges–was I ever wrong!) The Local Writers is primarily a reading group where writers share their work and no critiquing takes place. It is my hope that one or more critique groups will grow out of it.
Up here in the north country it is difficult for a writer to find a local venue where he/she can schedule events (other than local libraries) and we don’t have access to anything as basic as a bookstore (The nearest new bookstore of any size is in Bangor–a drive of over 150 miles.) My personal experience is that I usually have to drive to any event I take part in. For example for me to attend a two hour Noir At The Bar in Portland I have to drive five or six hours each way, dependent on weather. Hopefully, if we can get the writers of the north to organize a bit we can open up more venues.