In a three-story former police precinct on University Avenue in the heart of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, you’ll find a bustling center of activity: a group of older folks heading upstairs for their workshop on memoir writing, a bunch of eight-year-olds, notebooks and pencils in hand, stepping out to find magical creatures in the Eastman Gardens, and laughter bursting from an improv comedy class upstairs.
Writers & Books is a community literary center that holds writing classes and workshops for youth and adults, readings by visiting and regional writers, and community-driven programs and activities. It has a unique and vital niche in the city’s artistic culture, helping it to grow and thrive since the organization’s inception in 1980.
For adults, Writers & Books offers classes at multiple levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and in multiple genres (creative writing, fiction, poetry, stage and screen) as well as courses on the business side of writing and publication. For those who don’t live in Rochester but still want to take advantage of Writers & Books’ offerings, there is a selection of single-day workshops, and they recently began offering online courses as well.
Writers & Books also has a second home at the picturesque Gell Center of the Finger Lakes in Naples, which is open in the spring and summer and can serve as a creative retreat and a group meeting space for seminars or workshops. For authors, residencies at the Gell Center can serve as a creative escape.
On June 30, Writers & Books will begin its annual SummerWrite program. For nine weeks out of the summer, SummerWrite offers workshops for creative young readers and writers ages 6 to 18. It offers enrichment beyond what is provided in the classroom, with experienced teaching artists helping young people to develop their own voices and spark their passions – and registration for this summer is still open!
Beyond classes and workshops, Writers & Books opens its doors to the community for a range of public events. On the first Friday of every month, for instance, they participate in Rochester’s First Friday program, a citywide event that promotes collaboration between non-profit, university, and commercial art venues in a community night for experiencing art. On the nights of First Friday, one can wander the streets of Rochester to find great live music, work displayed by regional artists, free food and drink, and interesting company.
For July’s First Friday, Writers & Books will host its first Festival of Sound and Light on July 5. The event will be a celebration of Rochester architect Claude Bragdon and his theatrical instillation events of the early 1900s. On their building, which Bragdon himself designed, they will project images and words and play music in the style of Bragdon’s Festivals of Light and Song. The evening will also feature a Read White & Blue Book Sale from 6-10 p.m.
Writers & Books provides a venue for writers – young and old – to brainstorm, receive feedback, and simply connect with other creative people, helping to foster a stronger artistic community in a field that can often seem competitive and isolating. For event updates, course information, and more opportunities to get involved, visit the Writers & Books website.