Westcott Community

The Westcott Neighborhood of Syracuse, NY

A vibrant eastside neighborhood rich in history, culture, food and entertainment


WNA Launches Second Summer of Community Poets

June 11, 2024

Samuel Gruber

June 23rd Event Features Three Accomplished Writers

The Westcott Neighborhood Association’s (WNA) summer series of poetry readings by neighborhood writers continues for the second season on June 23, 2024.  Part of WNA’s yearlong Westcott Words and Music cultural event series, three monthly poetry readings are organized by Onondaga County Poet Laureate and Westcott Neighborhood resident Georgia Popoff, with support from CNYArts. The monthly literary events take place in Mom’s Diner, the last Sunday of every month, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.

The first reading date on Sunday June 23rd feature writers Elinor Cramer, Charles Martin and Johanna Keller.

Elinor Cramer has published poetry chapbooks (Canal Walls Engineered So Carefully They Still Hold Water, Valley Press, 2010; Mayflower, Red Bird Chapbooks, 2015) and the full length poetry collection, She Is a Pupa, Soft and White (WordTech Communications, 2011). Elinor’s poems have appeared in Stone Canoe, The Comstock Review, Nine Mile, English Journal, and others. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Warren Wilson College and a Master’s in Psychology from Roosevelt University.

Charles Martin is a nationally acclaimed poet and translator. His collection, Starting From Sleep: New and Selected Poems (The Overlook Press, 2002), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets. His books What the Darkness Proposes (1996) and Steal the Bacon (1987), were both nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Charles’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Hudson Review, Boulevard, and The Threepenny Review, among others, and his verse translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (W. W. Norton, 2003) received the 2004 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. Charles has received numerous literary awards. He is a professor at Queensborough Community College (CUNY) and teaches poetry at Syracuse University. Charles is a longtime resident of the University Neighborhood.

Johanna Keller is an award-winning journalist (The New York Times, ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award, Front Page Award, Los Angeles Times, London Evening Standard), classical music critic (Opera Magazine, Opera News, The Hopkins Review, Strad Magazine); and poet (Southwest Review, Stone Canoe, Light, Florida Review) and in recent years, a successful playwright.  Johanna is a nationally-known advocate of arts journalism and is emerita professor at Syracuse University where she founded the Goldring arts journalism graduate program at the S.I. Newhouse School.  Last year Johanna was the subject of the cover story (Johanna Keller: An Artist Reflects on Life, Change, and The Miracle of Art) in Syracuse Woman Magazine.

Westcott Words and Music, begun in 2023, features local artists in local venues and is especially geared to financially supporting artists and local businesses. Eva Essi, proprietor of Mom’s Diner, has offered her space for the events for the second year. This year the kitchen will be open and the audience can stimulate their minds, and their stomachs.

Following last year’s event format, after the invited poets read, Georgia and WNA will offer an open mike for local poets (2 poem limit) to recite their verse.

WNA’s co-president Sam Gruber, who also recently helped create the Syracuse Writers and Their Words art installation at Forman Park, says “for almost a century the Greater Westcott Neighborhood has been home to scores of writers – including poets. This tradition continues, perhaps stronger than ever. This series presents just a small number of our serious writers, and allows newer, or less-known writers to present their work at our open-mike.”

The event is open to the public and free. WNA encourages attendees to join the Westcott Neighborhood Association to support events like this, and other neighborhood activities and advocacy.

Future readings are Sunday, July 28 (Gloria Heffernan, Ejiofor Ugwu and Sean Conrey) and

Sunday, August 25 (Jakob Maier, Liz Bowan, Cedric Bolton).