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Monthly Archives: March 2014

An Interview With Judith Saunders

A Slant of LightContemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley is a volume that celebrates the contemporary prose and poetry of more than a hundred women from New York’s Hudson Valley. As the social media intern for the Hudson River Valley Institute, I had the opportunity to ask Judith Saunders, a contributing author to A Slant of Light, some questions about her love of writing and literature. Below are her responses. Judith will be reading an excerpt from A Slant of Light this upcoming Monday, March 31 at the launch party. The event will take place at 7:30 pm at the Henry Hudson Room in Fontaine Hall.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
Inspiration doesn’t visit me “dailly,” alas!  Triggers for poems typically are unforeseen and unexpected, often mundane, e.g. a road sign, a line from a magazine article, an unusual pattern of snowdrift in the backyard . . .
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing seriously since about age 15.
What got you interested in writing as a career?
Admiration for the work of other writers probably stimulated the urge to perfect and publish my own.
What is your favorite genre of literature?
I have no one favorite genre, just as I have no single favorite author: there is amazing work everywhere.  I do have a special passion for humorous and satiric writing, whether it takes the form of fiction, nonfiction, drama, or verse.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have too many favorite writers even to begin to name them, but here are a few that come to mind immediately:  Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Henry Adams, Edith Wharton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Tomlinson, Mary Oliver, Kay Ryan
What advice would you give to student writers?
To student writers I would say this:  Over the years I’ve noticed that it’s not necessarily those with most talent who go on to achieve success as writers but, rather; those who persist.  All the talent in the world is of no use without long-term dedication of time and energy.  Not long ago I read an interview with the wildly successful Nora Roberts.  An unusually prolific writer, she works in two different genres (romance and mystery). Asked the secret of her success, she replied succinctly:  “Ass in the chair.”
Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is wherever I am when inspiration strikes (even if it’s just an idea for an improved line or phrase).  I keep a little notebook and pen in my car, and frequently I scrawl in it at stoplights (I tend to get ideas while driving).  I also get ideas while walking, so as soon as I get home I write these down on whatever comes to hand.  I have notes and drafts on backs of envelopes, margins in magazines, all kinds of crazy places.  I have a notebook and a pen that lights up beside my bed, so I can put down any ideas that come to me in the middle of the night.  When the bedside pen doesn’t work (as often seems to happen), I grope my way into my office and write my idea down on whatever paper comes to hand, without turning on a light.  In the morning I try to decipher these nighttime sparks of creativity.
What is your all-time favorite quote from a book?
There is no one quotation I could pick out from all the great passages I have admired and memorized.  Some lines sticking in my head right now are these from Wallace Stevens:
    Beauty is momentary in the mind,
    The fitful tracing of a portal,
    But in the flesh it is immortal.

Events Happening around the Valley

Even after enduring endless amounts of snow, the Hudson Valley still finds a way to offer an escape. Numerous activities are happening across the Valley that are getting residents very excited. If you are looking for a way to stay warm and have fun without breaking the bank, you might want to try some of the following exhibits:

FDR Museum

Located: 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park NY, 12538

The FDR Museum offers insight into one of the great families of American History. The Museum, as well as its connected library, offers accurate and trustworthy information on the Roosevelt Family and of American History in general. The Museum has garnered acclaim recently for its new updated exhibits and refurbished facilities. The new update has really improved the atmosphere of the museum and has allowed numerous visitors to learn while having fun. Now through June 30, 2014, the Museum is offering a special temporary exhibit that displays various artists reinterpreting the famously known “See America” message. A trip to the Museum definitely has lots to offer for history enthusiasts.

New York State Museum at Albany

Located: Cultural Education Center 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230

The New York State Museum is a fantastic venue that all New Yorkers should take the time to visit. Admission is free, and numerous exhibits happen daily. In celebration of Black History Month, a limited time exhibition is on display of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech given in 1962. It is truly a rare exhibit and gives listeners insights into the passion and dedication Dr. King had during the Civil Rights Movement. Another great exhibit at the Museum is a comprehensive history of the involvement of New York State in the civil war and its leading role in the Union’s victory. If you aren’t a history buff, that’s okay. The museum offers numerous other exhibits including the Adirondack Wilderness, Ancient Life of New York, Metropolis Hall, and even a Carousel. This Museum is truly diverse and has plenty to offer anyone who is looking to have an enjoyable day.


Located: 5720 Route 9GHudson, NY 12534

Last but certainly not least on this list is Olana. Olana is an excellent choice for those who are looking to enjoy the great culture of New York in an outdoor setting. This 250 acre hotspot has so much to offer in terms of Art, Architecture, Landscape and tourist attractions. It has its own museum, as well as guided tours, giving all the available sights and sounds that are provided by the historic Hudson Valley. There are even lodging options, including a choice of inns and bed and breakfasts’. An incredible asset to Olana is that it also has great parks, lakes, festivals and outdoor sports to enjoy. So whether you want to see great exhibits in a museum, or explore and have a phenomenal time participating in numerous outdoor activities, Olana may be the perfect place for your weekend getaway.

-Rob Carreira

Martin Van Buren


In honor of Presidents week, it is important to remember some of the Presidents who find their roots here in the Hudson River Valley. The county of Dutchess serves as the birthplace of the thirty-second President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR was born in Hyde Park in 1882, and his home today is a national historic site. FDR is not the only President to call the Hudson River Valley Home. Columbia Counties Martin Van Buren served as the Eighth President. Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782.

Van Buren’s political career began at the age of seventeen after passing the New York State BAR exam. In his early capacities he would work behind the scene of New York politics. Van Buren’s first electoral success came in 1812, winning election to the New York State Senate for which he would serve four terms. While serving as a state senator he held the office of Attorney General for the State of New York. Van Buren left the Attorney General’s office to run for election for congress.  Van Buren won the seat in congress holding the office for two terms before resigning to become the Governor of New York. Van Buren’s reign as Governor was short lived as a result of being selected to the cabinet of President Andrew Jackson. Van Buren’s rise would continue serving as Vice-President for Jacksons second term. 1836 would find Van Buren holding the Highest Office of the United States.  After failing to reach re-election Van Buren would run twice more for the Presidency and failing in each effort.

Van Buren retired from politics and retreated to his home in Kinderhook till his death in July 1862.  Additional information as well as reference material for this blog can be found  here. For more information and visitor information on the estate of Martin Van Buren, visit our guidebook. For information on other historical sites in the Hudson River Valley, please visit our other guidebooks.

-Dennis Primiano

Upcoming Outdoor Events

As we approach spring after quite a long winter, we look forward to some of the great events approaching here in the Hudson Valley. Occurring on Friday April 11th, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association will be sponsoring a unique event which includes a nighttime walk on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail beginning from 101 New Paltz Road and continues up to Tony Williams Park. The event also features light snacks and beverages to add to the guided moonwalk. If you are interested in this eventful occasion, registration starts at approximately 7:30PM followed by the commencement of the event at approximately 8:00PM.

In addition the Hudson River Valley Rail Trail Association is pleased to sponsor the Armed Forces Weekend: Run for our Warriors occurring on Sunday May 18th. This unique occasion involves the choice of either a four mile race or a two mile walk on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail starting from 75 Haviland Road and continues up to 101 New Paltz Road. The Run for our Warriors is a great cause in which the donations will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. If you are interested in the Armed Forces Weekend event, you can preregister before March 27th.

And yet another great event slowly coming up is as we head toward the 10th anniversary six day and 200 mile long Cycling of the Hudson Valley bike tour. Occurring from July 29th up until August 3rd, bicyclists of all expertise levels will be participating in this of one of the most scenic river valleys across a route comprising of hills and essentially a terrain that has been carefully selected for optimal bicycling. There will be not only camping accommodations and evening entertainment throughout the entire tour, but also the opportunity for participants to have the abundance of tour options and other wonderful attractions found here in the Hudson. That being said, if you are interested in being a rider or a non-rider volunteer, both are welcome to help out during the ride since there exist many opportunities available for volunteers such as sag and luggage truck drivers, rest stop help, route supervisors, route checking, and much more! More information can be acquired about the event and possible opportunities by calling (607)-423-2769.

-Rosemarie Martens