Halfway There is the Whole Package

Halfway There is a free, quarterly authors’ reading series held at Montclair’s Red Eye Cafe where literature lovers can share stories.

Halfway There masters reading, writing and Red Eye.

halfway there
Photo courtesy of Halfway There.

Halfway There brings local established and emerging authors, as well as visiting writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, into one place to participate in the joy of literature. Apryl Lee founded Halfway There with published author and former classmate Nicole Haroutunian. When her first book came out, Haroutunian had plenty of readings lined up in New York, but the New Jersey native wanted a way to connect with a more local audience. Lee and Haroutunian had trouble finding a close-to-home place where she could read.

“I think Halfway There is a nice addition to the Montclair literary community. There are reading series in NYC that feature authors, but it’s not always easy for people to get into the city,” said Lee.

Lee and Haroutunian had found a gap in the Montclair community – and they filled it. They founded Halfway There, and created an opportunity for authors to read to a local audience. They needed to find a venue to host the creative crowd, so they looked for a place where people could sit, snack and have coffee while enjoying the local vibe.

Walnut Street’s artsy Red Eye Cafe fit the bill. Halfway There found another partner in Watchung Booksellers, who supplies the books and handles the book sales at each event.

Lee, a fiction writer herself, feels empowered by the Halfway There series. She said that her involvement in the local literary community inspired her to finish her own short story collection. Halfway There has made her a better reader, writer and person.

“It’s especially important to support emerging voices, new work and the making of new work. That’s what makes me who I am. And now, more than ever, we have to keep imagining, keep gathering as a community, keep sharing our ideas and listening to each other,” said Lee.

It has done just that. The series attracts regular writers and book lovers that come back for the good company (and good coffee). Regulars have even struggled through the bitter Montclair wind for relief of the warm and cozy Red Eye.

“At our last reading in January, it was freezing cold and we were worried that we wouldn’t have a good turn out, but we had a packed house, the biggest audience we’ve had so far. There were past readers, future readers, familiar faces, agents and new people in the audience who all trekked out in the cold night for some literature. Nicole and I are just amazed at this thing we started,” said Lee.

The Halfway There series has an upcoming event on Monday, April 3 with Claudia Cortese, Marcy Dermansky, Melissa Febos and Lauren Grodstein. Cortese and Dermansky are Montclair residents. Halfway There is also holding a reading as part of the Montclair Literary Festival. Check out the event on Facebook.  Submissions for the reading accepted online until March 6 at halfwaytheremontclair.com/submit/. Visit Halfway There online at www.halfwaytheremontclair.com.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login