Hudson River Loft Reading Series!

1. Kendra Malone and Matthew Savoca (authors most recently of the collaborative poetry collectionMorocco) stage a mock-dress rehearsal. 2. Daniel Nester (journalist, essayist, editor and author most recently of the humorous book How to be Inappropriate) poses with reading host Chloe Caldwell. 3. Between poems, Savoca tells a joke about a fish without an eye/i. (fshhhhh.)

This past Saturday night, Chloe Caldwell, author Legs Get Led Astray (forthcoming from Future Tense Books), opened her Hudson, NY, home to host the inaugural gathering of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series.

There to read a wholly excellent mix of poetry and prose (fiction and non) were: Kendra Grant Malone, Matthew Savoca, Mira Ptacin, Sean H. Doyle, Ryder Collins, Danielle Winterton, Daniel Nester, Eric Wybenga, and Chloe Caldwell herself.

1. Savoca and Malone read us their love poems. 2. Eric Wybenga reads from a short fiction project-in-progress.

Kendra Malone and Matthew Savoca, who are a package deal, kicked it off, reading eight poems from their very recently published book Morocco. I’m going to give a quickie explanation of this book, but know that I will not be able to do it justice: Morocco is a collaborative collection of love poems, written by the two in a sort of call-and-response fashion. You’re probably thinking this sounds: a) drippy b) boring to anyone not in this particular relationship. Let me tell you, you are wrong. Really. The poems are sexy, sad, sweet, sadistic. So wonderful. (Full disclosure: at Chloe’s suggestion, I caught a ride upstate from Brooklyn with these two, which was great fun and much appreciated.)

1. Mira Ptacin (creative nonfiction author, NY Times bestselling ghostwriter, and founder and director of the Freerange Nonfiction Reading Series in NYC) sets up her story with a mini lesson in the legal lexicon of egg donation. 2. Sean H. Doyle (whose writing has been published by The Rumpus, PANK, Bluestem Magazine, > kill author, among many others) reads a new story. 3. Ryder Collins gives an animated reading of a chapter from Homegirl!, her debut novel.

Next Mira Ptacin read an excerpt from a memoir she’s working on about the uterus and the American Dream. That a writer can spin fertility treatments and Craigslist egg “donation” ads into a salacious story just speaks for itself, really. So, that’s two for two (three for two?) on the excellent subject matter scale.Sean Doyle read a nonfiction story about a possibly schizophrenic former friend, featuring, among other bizarre elements: a plastic limb, a pimp, and a six-foot-something man named Little Mary. This got lots of laughs. Also? Dude knows how to tell a story.After that, Ryder Collins read two short chapters from her debut novel Homegirl!. Collins writes arresting, original prose. It was a pleasure to hear from a relatively newer voice.

1. Danielle Winterton reads her most recently published work. 2. Nester and Caldwell celebrate a job well done with a trip downstairs to the guitar mecca that is Musica (Chloe’s father’s music store, directly below the loft).

Danielle Winterton read from the French literary magazine Black Herald Press, in which her prose poem, “Dolce Vita: The Sweet Do-Nothing Life,” was published this past September.Daniel Nester, holding a borrowed unlit cigarette for effect, read an excerpt from a nonfiction project-in-progress about his hilarious and weird childhood, and his mother in particular. Imagine this: a grown man gesticulating wildly with a cigarette, mimicking his mom’s snarky tone and kvetching about the personal safety alarms (think: Life Alert) that his family sold on consignment for cash.Eric Wybenga followed this with a short story about two coworkers at a Manhattan publishing house, who rather than, you know, doing actual work at their office, exploit their company expense accounts, besting one another with increasingly extravagant three-martini-type lunches. Only, rather than three martinis, they order flights of aquavit (five glasses of very pricey Scandinavian brandy). In other news, as it turns out, there is an Occupy Hudson movement in town.Finally, Chloe read a story about her time working at a “new age camp” for teen girls, which is an excerpt from a longer essay that will be going into her book. The portion she read for us was about the “Trance Dance”, a touchy-feely, love-yourself-just-as-you-are event involving reiki and red fabric blindfolds. Pretty kooky. I’ve been bugging Chloe for weeks to send me a draft of the full piece, and now maybe once she reads this public plea, she’ll get cracking. (Chloe! I want to know what happens after the Trance Dance!)

In sum: Hudson? It’s a crazy gorgeous magical land that I never, in all my sooty grungy Brooklyn days, would have thought to visit till now. Loft Reading Series? Bad ass (as in excellent). I had early on been promised a piñata, but the reading itself was too much fun to need any extra amusement.


— Molly Oswaks is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Thought Catalog, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, The Believer, and The Atlantic, among others.

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