The Hudson Valley town of Beacon has had a creative bent for decades. Modern art gallery Dia Beacon opened over 20 years and is credited with spurring some of the city's growth. Folk legend Pete Seeger made the Hudson River town his home for over half a century.

In recent years, Beacon has seen a booming book culture, with reading series and book clubs sprouting up and writers moving into the city.

Beacon has jokingly been called "North Brooklyn." There's an air of truth to that, particularly with the burgeoning literary scene that seems to have migrated up the river.

Beacon's walkable downtown, active arts scene and focus on community-building makes it an ideal spot for writers. The opportunity to escape a crowded Main Street and disappear onto a mountain or river trail has its perks, too.

"It’s close to things, quiet, busy enough you can have fun in town, and nobody bothers you," said writer Hugh Sheehy on Beacon's appeal as a home base. Sheehy, a Flannery O'Connor Award winner and author of the short story collection Design Flaw, moved to the city with his family in recent years.

Stanza Opens on E. Main in Beacon, NY

Binnacle Books has been a mainstay in Beacon's middle Main Street, selling new and used books and dedicated to the welfare of the larger community. Binnacle houses a small food pantry drop-off and a refrigerator for perishable food donations in sponsorship with Fareground and Beacon4BlackLives. (Read more about the small pantry and community fridge's origin at A Little Beacon blog.) Binnacle also spearheaded the Prison Books Project and organized with other Hudson Valley bookstores to provide books to area prisons.

In November, Beacon welcomed a second bookshop in the east end of town when writers Mark Harris and Andrea Talarico opened Stanza Books in the location of the former Snooki Shop.

Stanza quickly established itself as a community space, as well as a bookstore. Harris and Talarico's social media strategy has been prolific and engaging. The store hosts readings and events featuring authors of newly published books.

Stanza has also established monthly book clubs, including a lit book club, a sci-fi book club and a horror book club.

In addition, the Silent Book Club popped up out of a Beacon Facebook Group discussion. The club hosts events at Stanza and Two Way Brewing where attendees gather to read together silently.

Book Clubs Sprout Up in Beacon, NY

Stanza isn't the only spot hosting book clubs. Liquid Fables, a craft cocktail company with a storefront across from Stanza, launched a monthly book club.

Liquid Fables derived the names of its cocktails from classic stories, such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Tortoise & the Hare, The Ugly Duckling and Town Mouse & Country Mouse. The book club came about because of the company's literary branding and the staff's self-ascribed bookworm status, according to an Instagram post.

Open Mic Links New + Established Hudson Valley Writers

The Lit Lit is a literary open mic series held monthly in the Howland Cultural Center. The series is curated by Donna Minkowitz, author of Lambda Literary Award finalist Growing Up Golem, journalist and writing teacher.

The open mic allows both established and new writers to read up to five minutes worth of material in any genre.

Beacon LitFest Returns to Howland Cultural Arts Center

The Beacon LitFest will return to the Howland Cultural Arts Center from June 6-8. The event features workshops in fiction, poetry and memoir, as well as performances.

This year, writers attending LitFest include Jennifer Egan, Jodé Millman, Ravi Shankar, Abigail Thomas, Timothy Liu, Edwin Torres, Tina Cane and David Herskovits.

In the lead up to the festival, Beacon LitFest will host a poetry event at the Howland on April 27 from 7-9PM. Tickets are $15.

Know of any other literary events or groups bringing readers together in Beacon, New York? Email me at jackie DOT corley AT townsquaremedia DOT com, and I'll be happy to add them to this list.

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Gallery Credit: Charlotte Anne Guernsey via Compass Greater NY LLC

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