Authors’ Hour to offer ‘quasi-coffeehouse’

The Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends will start a new tradition by harkening back to moments of old.

The event, called the Authors’ Hour, will be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Brick Walk Cafe. Local authors will read in the Authors’ Alcove while people dine. Books will be available for purchase and customers will be able to get them signed.

Fred Zirm, president of the Friends, said that the idea for the event arose out of the desire to draw people to the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Zirm said that is something that just does not happen as often as he would like, because some are completely unfamiliar with it.

“So we thought we’d do a little outreach, and try to get closer to where people tend to congregate naturally,” Zirm said.

Zirm brought the idea to the management of the Brick Walk Cafe. Both hope that it will be a beneficial relationship. Zirm thinks that the less formal atmosphere of the cafe will be a great way for people to get exposed to local writing talent.

“It might be a more relaxed way and convenient way of hearing some writing,” Zirm said. “You get something to eat, sit back, relax and listen.”

Tonight’s event will feature writers Pat Averbach, author of Painting Bridges, Beth Peyton, author of Clear Skies, Deep Water: A Chautauqua Memoir, and Mo Saidi, author of Between A and Z: Poems.

The event will also be repeated on Aug. 14 at the same time. The tentative roster for the second event includes writers Karen Weyant, Dave Northrup and Clara Silverstein.

Zirm will assess the success of the program and then make changes as necessary for future versions of the event. If the event continues into future seasons, Zirm said he wants to set up an application process so local authors can submit their work for the event.

The Friends’ president said he hopes that the Authors’ Hour will become a new tradition for the organization. He said that the event should be fun for all, but it might be especially fun for an older crowd.

“For some of us, it’s a semi-throwback to our youths — kind of a quasi-coffeehouse,” Zirm said. “People can applaud by snapping if they want. I’m not sure we’re going to have anybody on the bongos, though.”