February 13, 2008

Finding Their Voice By "Word Of Mouth"

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"I'm looking for the extroverts," said writer and Independent columnist Heather Buchanan. And this week the topic will be "Love?"

On Saturday, Buchanan will lead the second "Word of Mouth" reading event at Wines by Morrell in East Hampton at 5:30 p.m.

"Word of Mouth" is a budding community of writers who read excerpts of their unpublished works aloud . . . and over a glass of wine.

Buchanan came up with the idea after Rodney Roncaglio, owner of the wine shop, asked her to help come up with a cross-cultural/promotional event for the store.

"I thought, 'wine and writers, the two go together,'" Buchanan joked. The event is free and will be held every other month in the back room of the store. A complimentary glass of wine and cheese will be served.

Unique in its focus, the gathering is specifically for those whose works have not yet been published, or are not even complete.

"The traditional writer out here is doing a book reading, which is great, but we don't get much of a chance to read works in progress," said Buchanan.

The event is part of a larger endeavor to strengthen the East End writing community by bringing people, who often work in solitude, together. The artists on both forks, Buchanan noted, have done well to establish themselves as a cohesive community "but as writers, we haven't quite banded together in the same way."

Held late last year, the first "Word of Mouth" attracted 40 people, and seven readers. Everything from novels and personal essays, to short stories and poetry is welcomed.

While the event is not a workshop where writers get feedback, in a sense, the audience is still a firm sounding board. "As a writer reading to an audience, you know what works and what falls flat," said Buchanan. But writers should never play it safe. "It's OK if it fails. I would rather you try something new and have it fall flat than try something safe," she said, adding later, "You need to have the freedom to fail."

Buchanan will be reading passages from her memoir, which is a work in progress. "I feel like the very best things are the hardest to reveal," she said.

The entire reading is 40 minutes long, but guests are welcome to browse and mingle before and after.

Wines by Morrell is located in the Red Horse Market. For more information or to submit works e-mail Buchanan at heather@hamptonsheather.com

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