WOWWriters and readers from all over the Bay Area gathered at Skyline College on Saturday, March 2, 2019 for WOW! Voices Now: A Morning of Readings and Refreshments, an annual celebration of creativity during Women’s History Month. An energetic crowd of 70 people braved a morning rainstorm to savor literary work crafted by a wide variety of writers.

Event coordinator Kathleen McClung welcomed the two featured speakers, award-winning authors Aileen Cassinetto and Jacqueline Doyle. Both read from their books and spoke about their dedication to writing over the years. Cassinetto is Poet Laureate of San Mateo County. Doyle teaches at CSU East Bay and specializes in flash fiction.

During a lively question and answer, both authors spoke in depth about their writing process. Cassinetto talked of growing up under martial law in the Philippines and Doyle, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Edgar Allan Poe, said she tends to explore dark themes in her work. Both emphasized the necessity for community, especially during difficult times nationally and personally.

After a break for book signing, networking and continental breakfast, Professor Katharine Harer presented awards and gift bags to two outstanding Skyline College students, Haley O’Shea and Yvette Estrada who read their powerful work with poise and passion and received sustained ovations from the audience. The awards memorialize two multi-talented, influential women from the WOW! community, Isabelle Maynard (1929-2007) and Joyce Unger (1942-2016).

12 writers from around the Bay Area shared short poems and prose during the Open Reading, exploring families, cultures, identity, creativity, nature and other themes. Skyline College students Emanie O’Neal and Gwyneth Ochsner were among the Open Readers.

“It’s so important for writers to come together to share experiences, bounce ideas around, and listen to each other deeply,” said Skyline College English professor and author Kathleen McClung. “The WOW! community spans all ages, interests, and backgrounds. The common ingredients are encouragement and support.” The WOW! conference was founded in 2003 by Marijane Datson in collaboration with Skyline College faculty, staff and community members.

Thanks to Kevin Chak, manager of the Skyline College Bookstore and World Cup Cafe, Chris Gibson, interim dean of Language Arts and Learning Resources, English/creative writing professors Rob Williams and Katharine Harer, and WOW! ambassadors Lisa Suguitan Melnick, Ellen Woods, and Tom McAninley.

Article by Kathleen McClung | Photo by Tom McAninley

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