Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to host the Worcester Storytellers series, a chance for authors and poets to share their written word aloud. Writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry alike are welcome!
While the original founder of Worcester Storytellers was Dave Macpherson, the current host, Kristina England, carries on the tradition. She’s kindly taken the time to tell us more about the series and herself!
Thank you so much for working with Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester to bring back Worcester Storytellers, Kristina! What does it mean, to you, to host this kind of monthly event? What inspired you to put all the work in to make this series be reborn?
Most people would be surprised that I’m hosting a monthly event. I’m normally an introvert. However, I used to attend the Worcester Storytellers regularly back when David Macpherson hosted it. It was the only reading where I could hear fiction and non-fiction writers. When the series wrapped up, I kept attending the various wonderful poetry series in Worcester but felt as if I was missing out on the talent of other writers within our community. So, after a few months of debating whether to host a series, I approached Dave Macpherson about restarting the venue and he gave me the blessing. Then, I wandered into Annie’s Book Stop [of Worcester] the same week and asked if I could host the reading at Annie’s. I wanted to be surrounded by books so it was the perfect fit.
What can you tell us about your work and life as a writer? What aspect about wordsmithing do you love the most?
I’m a Communication Specialist by day at the University of Massachusetts so I get to wordsmith all day. My true passion is actually writing poetry. My favorite part is revising my work. I love to challenge myself and say, “No, you used that word before” or “That line is not living up to the poem. You’ve got work to do.” I’m not sure every writer loves the labor of revising but it’s what drives me.
What do you find to be the most difficult challenge in both writing for yourself and running the Worcester Storytellers series?
Time is actually my constant challenge. People joke that I have 28 hours in my day while everyone else has 24. I tend to be juggling a lot of pieces and finding time to write has become a planned activity on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The same is true for WS. I’m balancing how and when to market the event and then the time needed to do so.
What has been your greatest lesson in writing, thus far, and what lesson do you think more writers need to learn?
Well, I think the most important lesson I learned is you need a community. I run a workshop for local poets. I started it a year after I received my Masters because I felt so isolated and lonely when it came to the writing process. The thoughts and feedback of other writers pushes me constantly to think outside my own mind. Without the engagement with other writers, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
Similarly, when you do a reading, what has been the greatest thing you’ve learned, and what advice would you give to other readers?
My older sister gave me a few tips after she attended a couple of my features. Her tips were (1) count to 10 after you finish a piece so you give people time to breathe before you jump into the next piece (2) speak slowly so the audience can follow you (even if you think you sound like you are going at a snail’s pace, you probably aren’t) and (3) run through the poems at home before hand (even if it means the only audience is your cat).
When you plan to do a reading, what do you do to prepare? What do you want to give your audiences?
I prepare a set of poems. I often make sure they flow and tell a story. The tone changes as I go. I like to start with the serious pieces and then relax people over the span of the reading by gradually shifting from serious to thoughtful to funny. I think it’s important to engage your audience and connect with them in some way. If you do that, you are golden. Also, bring some spare poems along as sometimes you need to judge your audience when you get there. If you have some poems that are adult only and you get to a reading to find a 5 year old in the audience, you should probably have backup work.
Thank you, Kristina! We look forward to seeing you and Diane Vanaskie Mulligan this Friday at 7PM at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester!