Megaphone Sponsor spotlight: Writers & Books

by monicagebell on May 4, 2017

W&B Front Steps

Writers & Books, located at 740 University Avenue, in the Neighborhood of the Arts.

We are thrilled to once again have Writers & Books as a sponsor! Writers & Books is Rochester’s literary center that fosters and promotes reading and writing as lifelong activities. If you have ever been to Writers & Books, you know what an incredible place it is. They are the only local organization that focuses specifically on nurturing the literary arts in individuals and families through classes, workshops and programs that help readers and writers develop their skills at all levels. Writers & Books has something to offer for everyone, ages 5-105! They support and promote reading and writing in people of all ages and backgrounds, from the SummerWrite program for children, to memoir-writing and veterans groups for older members of the community. They engage our

Happy readers at W&B!

Happy readers at W&B!

community through public readings and programs in schools and other settings, and they offer a large scholarship program so anyone have access their wide spectrum of programming. Writers & Books is a place for people to gather and share thoughts and ideas about reading and writing, and Rochester is very lucky to have such a place! Not many communities have such an active and prominent literary center that hosts classes, community reading programs, and so much more.
When our Listen To Your Mother production team first gathered together for our inaugural show, we knew that Writers & Books had to be involved with the production in some way. With a mission so closely aligned to the project’s goal, we figured we were natural partners. A hard-working and very busy bunch of people, this small but mighty nonprofit took on the task of Megaphone Sponsorship for our show through their in-kind donation of space. They have been the perfect home for our auditions and our initial-read through for all three years of the show, and their beautiful books graced the photos of many of our cast head-shots! Accommodating, patient, and endlessly kind, Writers & Books has such a wonderful part of our Listen To Your Mother experience.

In 2016, after 35 years, founding executive director, Joe Flaherty stepped down and Kyle Semmel took the helm.

Kyle Semmel with Joe Flaherty in 2016. In the background, Joe Flaherty when W&B was in its infancy.

Kyle Semmel with Joe Flaherty in 2016. In the background, Joe Flaherty when W&B was in its infancy.

Meet Executive Director, Kyle Semmel:

What drew you to Writers & Books and Rochester?

Well, I’m from the Rochester area and I’ve been away for twenty years. I have a six-year-old son and my family is all here; it seemed a good time to return. Even still, it was the opening at Writers & Books that drew me. It was too significant to pass up at least applying to. But if I hadn’t gotten this job, it’s doubtful that we would be living in Rochester right now. We’d either be in Milwaukee or Copenhagen, probably. I love Writers & Books and what it means to our community. Having a literary center, a literary community, is significant for any major city if it aspires to have an arts scene. That Rochester has such a well established literary center speaks volume for Joe Flaherty, for the board of directors past and present, and to all the many individuals who helped make the place what it is today. I was drawn to this role and this place because I believe that, with my interest and experience, I can make a difference in the lives of Rochesterians. And I want to make a difference. I just hope I can.

What is one of your favorite moments related to mothers?

When I was a little boy, my mother and I were driving through the town of York, in Livingston County. It was a scorching hot day in the middle of summer. It was just the two of us. Glancing left at one point, she noticed a very large woman lying on her back on the ground. She knew the woman’s name, but I did not (and still don’t). Immediately she pulled into her driveway, stopped the car, and went to her. The woman was unconscious. My mother went inside the woman’s house and called the ambulance, which arrived a short time later. She’d suffered a heat stroke, but thanks to my mother’s intervention she would be okay. When my mother and I were finally leaving, driving away, I excitedly told her she would probably get a medal or some sort of award. “We don’t do things like this to get a medal,” she told me, bluntly dismissing the idea of a medal (which she never did receive). “We do things like this because they’re the right thing to do.” This moment has stuck with me ever since, and it’s why I share a similar belief in the values of awards and medals. They’re certainly not why we do the things we do.

What writing and/or writers inspire you?

Oh, writing. I love language and how writers can bend words to their ends. Give me a rich, evocative horror or dystopian novel and I won’t be able to put it down. The very best of Stephen King, Benjamin Percy, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Joyce Carol Oates’s darker stories. I’m not sure those writers are inspiring so much as just simply terrific storytellers. All writing is inspiring, really, the very fact of its existence. It’s such a hard thing to do and get right. When you read a well written story, poem, novel, article, whatever–it reminds you of the beauty and awesomeness of the human mind. To loop strings of letters into words and words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters and chapters into books–it’s just an incredible feat. And once you catch the fever, it’ll hold you forever.


We want our Listen To Your Mother fans to know what a treasure Writers and Books is to our community, and we hope you’ll connect to them through one of their many classes, programs, or events. Keep an eye out for these fascinating, fun, and enlightening events happening in the upcoming weeks and months:

• Barnes & Noble book fair to benefit Writers & Books on June 9th at Pittsford Plaza Barnes & Noble.

Gell Summer Intensive, July 8: Poetry; July 22: Creative Nonfiction; July 29: Fiction
• Last but not least, SummerWrite Registration is open now! Check out their incredible camps for kids ages 5 – 18. Visit their website for a complete listing or Call 585.473.2590 ext 107 to reserve a spot today.
To learn more about how how to get involved with Writers & Books, like them on Facebook and check out their website at

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