Literary Cocktail Hour

The Literary Cocktail Hour is an fun, informal monthly event featuring a pair (or more) of speakers in an entertaining, illuminating virtual event that opens with the notion of cocktails!


Letter to a Stranger with Colleen Kinder,

 Jacquelyn Mitchard and Peter Orner


   Friday, August 12 at 5:00

The Brattleboro Literary Festival invites you to join us on Friday, August 12, 2022, at 5:00 PM for our monthly Literary Cocktail Hour

A Literary Cocktail Hour presents Colleen Kinder, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Peter Orner with Letter to a Stranger, the book where sixty-five extraordinary writers grapple with this mystery: How can an ephemeral encounter with a stranger leave such an eternal mark? When Colleen put out a call for authors to write a letter to a stranger about an unforgettable encounter, she opened  the floodgates. The responses—intimate and addictive, all written in the second person—began pouring in. These short, insightful essays by a  remarkable cast of writers, who in addition to our guests tonight include Elizabeth Kolbert, Pico Iyer, Lauren Groff, Gregory Pardlo, Maggie Shipstead, Lia Purpura, and Leslie Jamison, are organized around such themes as Gratitude, Wonder, and Farewell and guide us both across the globe and through the mysteries of human connection. Addressed to a first responder after a storm, a gambler encountered on jury duty, a waiter in  Istanbul, a taxi driver in Paris, a roomful of travelers watching reality TV in La Paz, and dozens of others, the pieces are replete with observations about how to live and what we seek, and how a stranger’s loaded glance, shared smile, or question posed can stay with us our entire life.



Colleen Kinder is an essayist and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe New RepublicNational Geographic Traveler,, and The Best American Travel Writing. She has taught writing at Yale University, the Chautauqua Institution, and Semester at Sea. A Fulbright Scholar, Kinder received her MFA at the University of Iowa and is the author of Delaying the Real World and the cofounder of the online magazine Off Assignment (, where some of the pieces in this anthology originated. Her website is




Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels for adults and teenagers, and the recipient of Great Britain’s Talkabout prize, The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards, and named to the short list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, with more than 3 million copies in print in 34 languages. Mitchard’s essays also have been published in magazines worldwide, widely anthologized, and incorporated into school curricula.



Peter Orner a two-time recipient of the Pushcart Prize, is the author of six books, including the novel Love and Shame and Love, the collection Esther Stories, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and Maggie Brown and Others. His memoir, Am I Alone Here?, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His fiction has appeared in The AtlanticThe Paris ReviewTin House, and Granta, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fulbright to Namibia, Orner holds the Dartmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.


Free and open to the public….register at the link below: 23

And on Wednesday, August 17 at 5:00 pm, join us live at Brooks Memorial Library in a workshop to write your own letter to a stranger, led by area writer Barbara Morrison.