hEARtSLAM offers evening of poetry at Grass Valley’s Open Book | TheUnion.com

hEARtSLAM offers evening of poetry at Grass Valley’s Open Book

Poet Grace Totherow is a presenter at the Sierra Writers Conference and emcee of hEARtSLAM, an eevenign of poetry at The Open Book.
Submitted photo |

Know & Go

What: hEARtSLAM, a benefit for the Sierra Writers Conference

Where: 671 Maltman Drive, Grass Valley

When: 6-8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $10 at the door and in advance at tinyurl.com/slamgv; extra donations accepted

For info: www.sierrawritersconference.com

If you’re an aspiring short story writer, or have an urge to write your memoirs, but just aren’t sure where to turn for mentoring advice, the Sierra Writers Conference this Saturday might be a good place to start.

The conference, to be held at the Sierra College Nevada County campus, features three learning tracks oriented to the stages of writing: creativity, critique and revision, and publishing.

Activities will include the keynote address presented by local author and Sierra College professor Gary Noy, performances by poet Grace Totherow and the Poets Quartet, and an array of workshops.

This year, the conference gets a head start with hEARtSLAM, a poetry slam and open mike being produced by Carolyn Crane.

“I wanted to do something a little different,” said Crane, adding that while there are frequent poetry readings in the area, this will be an evening of “work that is learned by heart.”

Crane was involved in the inaugural writers conference three years ago, leading a breakout session on drama.

“I decided I wanted to be more involved,” she said, praising conference founder Lynette Vrooman’s long-term vision of building a regional writers conference. “We have this gorgeous campus and an incredible community of writers.”

The idea of hEARtSLAM came about as a way to extend the one-day event.

“I think it’s fun when there are weekend conferences,” Crane said. “There are some social opportunities that enrich the conference experience. The relationships forged, meeting new colleagues, that’s where the excitement comes from.”

During a conversation with presenter Grace Totherow, the discussion turned to how few students were involved in the conference and brainstorming strategies to change that culture, Crane said.

All too often, the writers who attend events are the “same old slightly grey-haired group,” she said.

“Grace asked me what I was doing to get students to come,” Crane continued. “We came up with the idea of recruiting students to perform.”

Several of the English professors at Sierra College reached out to the students in their classes — but, Crane said ruefully, “We didn’t bridge the age gap.”

hEARtSLAM will feature an adult student from Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes opening the show, however.

Marcia Grace Alcott will perform several memoir pieces, including one about learning.

“She will open the show — she is very funny,” Crane said.

Other featured performers will be Totherow, Chris Olander and Sands Hall, interspersed with open mike opportunities.

“They were on board right away,” Crane said. “They loved the idea it wasn’t another reading, that it something different and more dynamic. Everything needs to be learned by heart and performed by heart.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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