A book feast for Queens literary buffs
by AnnMarie Costella, Chronicle Reporter
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Aaron Adler of Kew Gardens reads poetry during Rezs April session. PHOTO BY CAROL LACKS" hspace=0 src="http://images.zwire.com/local/Z/Zwire2731/zwire/images/41896_G153.jpg" width=330 vspace=2 border=1>
Aaron Adler of Kew Gardens reads poetry during Rez’s April session. PHOTO BY CAROL LACKS
American academic Charles Eliot once said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.” Three years ago, Deborah Emin discovered something about Kew Gardens that she found alarming — in an area where so many people love to read, there wasn’t a single book store.
Motivated by the desire to make reading not just a pastime but an event, and recognizing that the need could not be filled elsewhere in the area, she created the Rez Reading Series. “Our ultimate goal is to be as imaginative and inventive as possible in order to infuse our community with those qualities so the interaction between the series and the audience can only be one of growth and mutual assistance,” said Emin, who is Rez’s program director. The series brings authors to the community and allows them to read their works to audience members. Each event has a theme and they are held seven times a year. A question and answer session follows each reading, during which attendees can get to know the writers better and afterwards they can purchase their books and mingle with other members of the community and enjoy some refreshments. Rez originally held its meetings in the Church of the Resurrection on 118th Street, but this fall has moved to the Center at Maple Grove Cemetery. The change of scenery has allowed it to create some interesting new events. In October, for example, the group will hold a Halloween session during which participants will read the works of authors who are buried in the cemetery. “This will occur in a truly ghoulish way, guaranteed to help the audience believe the voices of the dead can be heard,” Emin said. Although Rez operates without funding and is not able to pay any of the authors, they are still able to get participants. “It’s based on me writing impassioned letters to authors and asking them to read for us,” Emin said. “I let them know that we have people who are hungry and eager to hear them talk and to talk to them.” Emin runs the series with two other volunteers — Mandy Gor and Carl Bellenas. “It is truly a labor of love for all of us,” she said. In the future they would like to record and archive the sessions, so that people could get the audio streamed directly to their computers — something Emin believes would be particularly helpful for elderly readers. Rez’s next reading will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Center at Maple Grove Cemetery, located at 127-15 Kew Gardens Road. The group asks for a $5 donation to cover the cost of refreshments and the printing of event posters. The session will feature three authors from Forest Hills: Arthur Bebell will read from his memoir “Shadows of the Past,” Teri Coyne will read from her novel “The Last Bridge” and Justin Martin will read from his forthcoming untitled biography on Frederick Law Olmsted. The event will also feature Deborah Fried-Rubin, a poet from Queens College and Douglas Rogers of Brooklyn, who will be reading from his Zimbabwe memoir, “The Last Resort.” For more information about upcoming Rez events, visit the group on Facebook or email Emin at firstname.lastname@example.org.