Our first submission! “November” by Olivia Spenard, Creative Writing Program, School of the Arts

Our first submission! “November” by Olivia Spenard, Creative Writing Program, School of the Arts

At the Tom Otterness sculptures at the Memorial Art Gallery (next to SOTA). A satisfying evening of poetry. This time the head smiles.

Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must  I write?


A blow below the belt! Taking the news hard at the Tom Otterness sculptures. Feeling better thanks to the SOTA Creative Writing Department. From “The New Yorker in NOT publishing my poem!” Need your submissions

from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Apparently, our two appeals for poetry submissions from the Poet’s Walk and the Tom Otterness Sculptures on University Ave carried enough force to reach across the street to the School of the Arts. As seen in “The New Yorker in NOT publishing my poem!” Need your submissions, my rejection by The New Yorker  prompted us to start our own Poet’s Page filled (hopefully) with your literary creations.

This evening, Olivia Spenard, a Creative Writing major at SOTA, read from her work at the twice a year Coffeehouse Readings held by the Creative Writing Department at School of the Arts. And — as the first to feel the force and join our Poet’s Page — Olivia kindly agreed to share her piece.


Olivia reading “November” [Photo: André Spenard]

SOTA’s Creative Writing programs is an RCSD gem, an incubator for beginning writers who have frequently continued their craft in college and beyond.  Last year, Alexander Christie won a Gold in the Scholastic Art and Writing Northeast Regional Writing competition, while Isabella Watts, Kyra Majewski and Khampasong Ithavong gained Silvers.

As explained by Creative Writing teacher Ashley Perez, fundamental components of the program are extracurricular enrichment activities, such as public performances, writing contests, and publishing opportunities. Last year the Department held the Playwrights Festival 2015 – a celebration for young writers, directors and actors. The four-day event included a panel discussion comprised of local authors/playwrights Maria Brandt, Bill Capossere and Craig Delancey.  (More on SOTA’s program very soon. And we hope more of your submissions now that the Poet’s Page is just getting started.)

On Tuesday, we saw excellence at NCAA Division I Signing Day at SOTASee SOTA’s Kenny “Cruz Control:” from a Silverhawk to a Scarlet Knight

This evening we saw more.


Cameron Bennett, excerpt from “Frost.” Look for full short story in upcoming post [Photo: André Spenard]



Purple Converse traipse

down sidewalks

painted with sour month old leaves

and the day is beautiful

and I think of you.


The air circles in

and closes in,

hugging the lungs and the gut

the way I imagine whiskey does,

and it laughs from the belly

and I think of you.


Trees become legends,

standing like superheros,

their arms bent,

fists on their hips,

decorated in red and orange

and gold

and I think of you.


It’s not cold enough for hands to freeze

or for breath to print the air,

but the tips of fingers

wiggle inside pockets

and feet bounce inside boots

in an effort to stay warm

and I think of you.


The wind is an etch-a-sketch

of autumn

and drizzle paints the crooked lines,

and two roads diverged in a wood and I—

I think of you.


And I think of you.


And I think

of how mixtapes deserve

to make a comeback,

of how talking is overrated,

it’s eye contact that counts


and I think of millions of ways to

say I am thinking of you

without saying a word.

And I think

of how holding hands

is an unrecognized art,

the practice of intertwining nervous fingers,

tracing letters on palms

and drawing with fingernails.


Love is written on skin

in invisible ink.


POSTCRIPT While Olivia plans to live a longer, healthier and less tragic life that Adelaide Crapsey, perhaps we are seeing Rochester’s next poet of distinction. (If, as Rilke would say, she must write.)

The event photos are by Olivia’s father, André Spenard whose pics can be also found in Millennials and Ripper


SOTA’s Kenny “Cruz Control:” from a Silverhawk to a Scarlet Knight

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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