Guest Speakers

2020-2021 Speakers Series

MWG monthly meetings are free of charge and open to the public.

Monthly meetings are free of charge and open to the public in downtown Peterborough, New Hampshire. Please see below for this year’s locations, which are different this year due to the pandemic and the construction on the  Peterborough Town Library. Meetings run from 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on the third Saturday of the month from September through June, except for May which is held on the second Saturday in deference to Children and the Arts.

September 19: Penning the Pandemic Reading in Putnam Park

The first meeting of the Monadnock Writers’ Group for the 2020-21 program year will be held in Putnam Park in Peterborough, on Grove Street beside the Nubanusit River and the Post Office. We will have readings from Penning the Pandemic, an new anthology organized and published by MWG. It includes memoir, poetry, stories and theater written in the first months of the COVID crisis by 40 authors from 6 countries, but mostly from the Monadnock Region.

We will begin at 10 am with introductions and announcements. You are welcome to come earlier to meet fellow writers while masked and socially distanced. The event is free and open to the public. Please bring your own chairs and wear a facemask.

If the weather is not compatible with an outdoor meeting, we will do it online using Zoom. All authors and MWG members will get an e-mail early on that Saturday with details on connecting to Zoom if we are going online.

October 17: Jack Hitchner  John T Hitchner

John T. “Jack” Hitchner is a graduate of Glassboro State College and Dartmouth College, and has studied at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. For over 35 years he taught English in New Jersey and New Hampshire public schools. He is retired from teaching Creative Writing and Coming of Age in War and Peace at Keene State College. His poetry appears in the collections Seasons and Shadows and Not Far From Here; his short fiction in How Far Away, How Near. This summer he published Like Snow Upon Green, a collection of stories and poems of childhood, youth, aging, the effects of war, and the constancy of love.

November 21: Dan Szczesny

Dan Szczesny is a long-time journalist who moved to New Hampshire in 2000 to cover the Presidential Election. In 2001, Dan became Associate Publisher of The Hippo, now the state’s largest Arts and Entertainment journal. He’s written several award-winning books of travel memoir and is the Editor of Murder Ink, a series of New England-based Pulp Fiction anthologies set in or around the newsroom.

His newest book, U & Me: Reflections from the Fatherhood Frontier, is a collection of essays exploring parenting and fatherhood.

December 19: Winter Read-Around

Members of the Monadnock Writers’ Group are invited to read excerpts of their own work in progress,  up to ten minutes each. This intriguing visit with fellow writers will take place over Zoom. The public is welcome to attend. Please join our  mailing list or email Carl at to receive  the  link.

Past Speakers from 2019/2020 Season


September 21, 2019 — A Visit to The MacDowell Colony

NOTE: The September 21st meeting will be held at The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, not at the Peterborough Town Library. As with all of MWG’s monthly meetings, this meeting is open to the public and free of charge.

The MacDowell Colony, photograph by Patricia Henderson

For the fourth year, Monadnock Writers’ Group will meet at The MacDowell Colony’s James Baldwin Library in September, thanks to the generosity of the MacDowell staff and the willingness of two current writers in residence to share their process and work with us. It’s a grand way to start, being at the celebrated artists colony that has supported so many artists, composers, playwrights, poets and writers over the years! You can learn more about The MacDowell Colony at their website:

DIRECTIONS: Driving directions from the Peterborough Town Hall (the Intersection of Grove Street and Main Street) to The MacDowell Colony, 100 High Street, Peterborough.
(Total distance from Town Hall to The MacDowell Colony is ONE mile.)

From the intersection of Grove and Main Streets:

  • Go WEST on Main Street for 2/10 mile to VINE Street.
  • Turn RIGHT on VINE Street then an IMMEDIATE LEFT onto HIGH Street.
  • In 3/10 mile the road forks; STAY RIGHT AT THE FORK, STAY on HIGH Street.
  • In 4/10 mile the MacDowell Colony is on the LEFT. TURN LEFT to parking.

WHERE TO PARK: Parking will be in the Colony’s main lot along the pine trees off High Street, with some parking available at the Library located to the left behind the main building.

OCTOBER 19 – Lori Haskins Houran

Lori Haskins HouranLori Houran began her career in New York working in children’s publishing. Eventually she became a Senior Editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, then an Editorial Director at Golden Books, overseeing hundreds of books in the process. Her first book as author was Breakout: Escape from Alcatraz, published in 1996. Since then she has published about forty more.
LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

NOVEMBER 16 – Randy Pierce

Randy PierceRandy Pierce founded 2020 Vision Quest, which leads and inspires students and professionals to reach beyond adversity and achieve their peak potential. 2020 Vision Quest benefits the visually impaired community: Future in Sight and the internationally renowned Guide Dogs for the Blind.

In 2018 Randy published See You at the Summit: My Blind Journey from the Depths of Loss to the Heights of Achievement.
Randy Pierce was on top of the world, 22 years old, fresh out of college and thriving at an excellent job. His promising future seemed certain. Then, in just two short and devastating weeks, an unexpected neurological disorder plunged him into blindness. Randy, believing his future had vanished in the blink of an eye, wondered, “How can my life have meaning now?” Before he could fully answer, he had further to fall. Blindness was far from the worst challenge he would face. See You at the Summit, Randy’s uplifting personal account of his journey through adversity to accomplishment. This improbable tale of human resiliency follows Randy as he learns to pick up the pieces of his life while discovering the extreme love, devotion and bravery of his guide dogs. He climbs from his lowest point, persevering to historic achievements in hiking, winning a National Marathon Championship, and becoming a highly sought motivational speaker. Randy’s insightful vision will show you how our choices in responding to life’s challenges define us so much more than those challenges ever could and perhaps, how a blind man really can see! See You at the Summit is built upon an indomitable spirit inviting you to share in summits of success and reach your peak potential.
View Randy’s TEDx Talk Vision Beyond Sight
Visit Randy at

LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library


Our December meeting is the popular Member Read-Around. Please bring a few poems or short excerpts from your writing to share with the group (5-10 minutes of reading time each). Please note that in the interest of time, this is not a critique session. It is your chance to shine and hear your voice within a welcoming, writer community.

The public is welcome to attend and hear Monadnock Writers’ Group members read excerpts from their work.

LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

FEBRUARY 15 – Gary Matras

Gary MetrasGary Metras founded Adastra Press in December 1979. He is the letterpress printer, editor, and floor sweeper. Adastra has published 115 books, broadsides, and chiefly chapbooks of poetry by fifty-eight poets from across the country. A poet himself, he has published eighteen collections, most recently Captive in the Here and White Storm, the latter having been selected as a Must-Read Poetry. In April 2018, he was inducted as Poet Laureate of the Easthampton, Mass.
LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

MARCH 21 – Rachel Sturges and Falon Smith

Rachel SturgesRachel Sturges and Falon Smith headline readings by teenaged poets from the Monadnock region. A juried panel of New Hampshire State Council on the Arts selected Rachel, a student at ConVal, and Falon, from Littleton, as the two Youth Poets Laureate this year. As the letter of appointment states in part: “Your superior, crafted poetry contains imagery with emotion embodied in it, rather than simply talking about feelings; in other words, it looks outward from the self rather than simply at the self.”

LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

APRIL 18 – Patrick Donnelly

Patrick DonnellyPatrick Donnelly is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Little-Known Operas (Four Way Books, 2019), about which Mary Ruefle wrote “The poems in Little-Known Operas delight me with their wit, pathos, expertly executed confusion, and their sincere and exuberant wondering.“ Donnelly is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, now a center for poetry and the arts. With his spouse Stephen D. Miller, Donnelly translates classical Japanese poetry and drama. The translations in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013) were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University. Donnelly’s other awards include a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program Award, an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a 2018 Amy Clampitt Residency Award. Donnelly was 2015 – 2017 poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts.
Visit Patrick at
LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

MAY 9 – John T. Hitchner

*date change
John T HitchnerRaised in Pitman, New Jersey, John T. “Jack” Hitchner graduated from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and Dartmouth College. He studied Literature of the West Country at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom and fiction writing at the New York State Writers Conference at Skidmore University and the Wesleyan Writers Conference in Middletown, Connecticut.

For over 35 years he taught English in public schools in New Jersey and New Hampshire, until retiring from public education in 2001. Since 1989, he has been an adjunct instructor in English at Keene State College, where he taught Coming of Age in War and Peace and Creative Writing. Presently he is an instructor in Soundtracks and Stories in Keene State’s CALL Program

His publications are varied: three chapbooks of poetry—Not Far From Here, 2010, Seasons and Shadows, 2011 and Pieces of Life Between Latitudes, 2015; How Far Away, How Near, a collection of short fiction, 2012, and The Acolyte, his first novel 2014. His poem “My Father in Winter” was awarded the Robert Penn Warren Free Verse Prize by The Anthology of New England Writers. The poetry journal The Stray Branch will feature six of his poems spring 2020. He has also been a Featured Poet in the noted poetry journal the Aurorean. Snow Upon Green, collection of previously published and new short fiction and poetry is forthcoming.

He lives with his wife Patricia in New Hampshire.
NOTE: Please note the change of date to avoid conflict with Children and the Arts
LOCATION: Peterborough Town Library

JUNE 20 – Annual meeting and Read-around

June 20 General Meeting Online

Because of Covid-19 and the closure of the Peterborough Library for renovations, the Monadnock Writers Group will be hosting its annual June read-around using Zoom. You will not need a specialized app to join the meeting, just a computer with camera, microphone and access to e-mail. Most laptops come with camera and microphone.

For details on how to join the meeting, send an email to submit by June 15. Put RSVP in the subject line of the email. In the body of the email, include your full name, your email address, and the town of residence. State whether you would like to read a selection of your writing no longer than ten minutes. The host will email you simple instructions with a Zoom link by June 19. Just click that link a few minutes before 10:00 on June 20, and you’ll be ready to go!

Election of MWG Board Members: The term of office for four members of the MWG Board will end this June: Denny Caldwell (Treasurer), Carl Mabbs-Zeno (Secretary). Ann Day and Maura MacNeil. A term lasts two years. There are eight Board members.

Nominations for election to the Board may be made until May 15. For MWG members to nominate themselves or others, they should contact Maura MacNeil (you can email the site).

Carl, Ann and Maura will run for re-election. Bill Bryk has been nominated for the Board and for the Treasurer position.

The slate of candidates and their brief biographies will be published in the June Quill. Voting will be done via Survey Monkey in June.


The public is welcome to attend any Monadnock Writers’ Group meeting.