Monday, January 30, 2012

Bright Hill Press to celebrate 20 years

The Daily Star related that Bright Hill Literary Center will celebrate 20 years:
Bertha Rogers of Treadwell has hosted readings by more than 2,000 writers and storytellers for 20 years.

But this woman of letters still has ambitious plans for her Bright Hill Literary Center.

"We're having a big year this year" to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Word Thursdays, a Bright Hill biweekly event, which features invited writers and the public reading their works aloud, Rogers said. In store are visits by local authors, a history day and a children's authors day, as well as visits by writers from around the state and country.

"We have a lot of great stuff planned," Rogers said.

Rogers is the founding executive director of Bright Hill. Bright Hill began with seven people at an open mic poetry reading one night in January 1992, in the home of Rogers and Ernest M. Fishman, Rogers said Monday.

This Thursday, Rogers will present a "strictly open mic" reading event in the center's library at 7 p.m., open to the public, "to commemorate that first open mic," Rogers said.

Rogers, who moved to the area from New York City in 1989, said she missed reading poetry out loud and hearing it read. "That was the whole point" of organizing that first open mic in her home.

"People came, and they were interested in coming back," Rogers said. "That was a good sign."

Rogers said the open mic readings, held every second and fourth Thursdays and dubbed "Word Thursdays," have gone on ever since.

"People just kept coming back," Rogers said.

Rogers said she knew many writers and poets from New York City and invited them to be featured readers at Word Thursdays. She would often let them stay in her house when they came upstate.

"It got to the point where we really needed to find another place," Rogers said.

Rogers and Fishman established the Bright Hill Literary Center in 2002, when they moved their operations to its premises at 94 Church St. in Treadwell.

Word Thursdays has featured writers from all over the United States and from around the world, Rogers said.

In 2005, the Bright Hill Community Library opened, according to the literary center's website.

Poet Annie Sauter of Oneonta will host Thursday's event.

Sauter, who was one of Word Thursdays first readers, said Tuesday, "It was really interesting to see all the different people in this area who were actively engaged in writing."

Word Thursdays "is great for writers" who want to hear high quality work, Sauter said.

"We've got some really good writers up here," she said.

Dorothy Bloom of Oneonta, who said Friday she has been a featured writer and open mic reader at Word Thursdays about a half-dozen times, said that as authors read at Word Thursdays, "they get better."

"Bertha provides an incredibly warm atmosphere of welcome to her writer," Bloom said. "There's something about being at Bertha's that makes you happy."

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