They say you should bloom where you are planted.
If I’m honest, I didn’t always believe it. But now I understand what that means – that no matter where you are right now, you need to make the most of it. Even when things don’t go the way you planned.
Whether you’ve spent your whole life here, are making a fresh start, or have returned to your family, it’s important to get involved in your community.
When I was in high school, I dreamed of being a writer. I remember Career Day and listening to people talk about their profession. They were all informative, but none of the presenters were writers. I knew I wanted to be one, but the possibility of becoming a writer seemed as remote as flying to the moon. It would have made all the difference to me if I had met a real writer that day or if there had been a local publishing house downtown.
Fast forward to a few years ago. I had left a teaching job and moved back to the area to be close to my aging parents. In the process, I fulfilled my dream of finally earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and I am proud to have attended the same school as my mother. And the bonus? I now work in an industry that I love in the world of book publishing.
I started working at Etruscan Press as a graduate assistant at Wilkes and was the production editor for the past five years. In partnership with Wilkes, we are housed on the campus of Dr. Harold Cox Hall on River Street, as well as the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing.
Founded in 2001 by Executive Director, Phil Brady and Editor-in-Chief, Robert Mooney, we have published nearly 100 books, in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies.
Four of our poetry books are National Book Award finalists (including one shortlisted title). Collectively, Etruscan titles have received over 20 other literary awards. Our authors come from all over the country as well as Cuba, England, Greece and Ireland.
Being a small, independent, not-for-profit press equals a small but mighty staff. Our editor is Wilkes alum Bill Schneider. Currently a Wilkes graduate student in publishing, Cynthia Kolanowski is Outreach Coordinator. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we do without the help of graphic designers, graduate assistants and interns who work on various projects throughout the year.
If someone had told me in high school that I would work for a publishing company, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I’m here. We live in a time when the arts are considered less vital and important, when writing and reading books is a waste of time. At Etruscan Press, we promote literary citizenship in a time when books and the written word are more valuable than ever.
You may not have known that there is a publishing house here in Wilkes-Barre. But we aim to change that. We just held our first-ever book sale in July on the porch of Cox Hall and will be joining the Saturday Small Business Holiday Market in Midtown Village on November 26th. We hope you’ll join us to browse our titles and chat with us. You can visit our website at https://etruscanpress.org.
When I was a teenager, going downtown was big business. I have fond memories of wandering Osterhout Library, Circles on the Square, the Farmers Market, Fine Arts Fiesta and Boscov, as well as attending church bazaars in the summer and at shows at FM Kirby Center. I love that I can still do all those things. Sometimes you might hear people say there is nothing to do here. Remind them that we have restaurants, theaters, stores, parks and universities within walking distance.
Our region has faced many challenges, from the devastating Agnes flood in 1972 to the global pandemic. But many beautiful historic buildings still line our streets. Yes, many businesses are gone, but so many people, businesses and organizations are working hard with courage and passion to make downtown vibrant and full of life while preserving our rich history.
I feel privileged to play a small role in the revitalization of our city.
Pamela Turchin is the editor of Etruscan Press. She earned a master’s degree in fiction from the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University and is working on a novel.