Category Archives: News Updates

Proof that the magic works…

We are always excited to share in the successes of our Writer’s Room alumni. We recently received a note from writer Pablo Brescia, with news of his latest book of short stories, La derrota de lo real / The Defeat of the Real.
I wanted to let you know that my third book of short stories, La derrota de lo real, (The Defeat of the Real) is out. The beginning of the book happened one afternoon during my last stay at the Betsy. Proof that the Writer’s Room’s magic really works! I just wanted to show my appreciation and hope to be with you again soon!
Best wishes!
Pablo Brescia, Ph.D.

Congratulations to one of our own – Pablo Cartaya!

Miami’s Newest Young Literary Hero Takes On Development

Arturo Zamora is 13 and ready for a relaxing summer. His plans are quickly shattered when his family’s business is threatened by a developer, he loses one of the most important people in his life and he has to find the courage to express his feelings to a girl who has swept him off his feet.

Listen to the interview with Pablo Cartaya on WLRN.ORG.

New Women’s Poetry Series at The Betsy Writer’s Room

This November, a new reading series will hit Miami’s growing literary scene. Founded and curated by Miami-based poets Jen Karetnick and Catherine Prescott, SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami) will feature female and female-identifying writers from South Florida and across the nation. Hosted by The Betsy-South Beach, a philanthropy and arts-driven boutique luxury hotel located on Ocean Drive in the heart of Miami Beach’s Art Deco District, SWWIM is an ongoing reading series with four readings planned for its inaugural year.

swwim-logoRenowned poets Paula Bohince, author of Swallows and Waves (Sarabande, January 2016), and Mia Leonin, author of Chance Born (Anhinga Press, April 2016), will kick off the readings series in B Bar, The Betsy-South Beach’s underground gallery, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. Readings to follow on March 7, June 21 and September 6, 2017 include award-winning poets Lola Haskins, Jenny Molberg, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, and Allison Joseph.

The reading series is free and open to the public. See our Calendar of Events for dates. Books by the poets will be for sale on the premises.

Paula Bohince
Lola Haskins
Jenny Molberg
Allison Joseph







About SWWIM: A reading series held at The Betsy South Beach, SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami) is coordinated by co-directors Catherine Prescott and Jen Karetnick, two female writers and poets based in Miami. They consider SWWIM not an exclusionary series, but rather an inclusionary one. While they like men as their partners, sons, siblings, colleagues and friends, real inequities in just about every industry indicate that women are still not given their due. They’re doing their part to fix that in this milieu. They do hope to see plenty of male and male-identifying faces in the audience, supporting female and female-identifying readers.

About The Betsy-South Beach: The Betsy-South Beach is the only Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond rated boutique hotel in Greater Miami. Located in the heart of the Art Deco District on Ocean Drive, The Betsy’s unique hospitality model champions the power of community through its dedicated PACE (Philanthropy, Arts, Culture, Education) program by weaving those brand pillars into the guest experience. The Betsy’s Writers Room ( welcomes year-round artists, numbering more than 400 since 2012. The hotel plays host to annual festivals in wide ranging arenas, such as a cappella, jazz, and global literature, and was twice a recipient of a prized Arts Challenge Grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Over the past seven years, the hotel has become a catalyst for energized discourse, innovative thinking, and expansive charitable programming.

Currently, the 61-key hotel is in the process of a groundbreaking expansion, led by architect Allan T. Shulman and designers Diamante Perdersoli and Carmelina Santoro, to merge with the historic Carlton Hotel and become a single unified property in fall 2016. Upon completion, the new Betsy will boast 128 guestrooms with 25 suites, three distinct food and beverage outlets under the direction of famed Chef Laurent Tourondel, a 3,000 sq. ft. rooftop pool complex, new boardroom, expanded fitness center and rooftop spa, dedicated library, and 15,000 sq. ft. of new event space to scale their celebrated PACE program. For more information on The Betsy-South Beach, visit Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @TheBetsyHotel, and “like” us on Facebook at

Remembering Poet Ilyse Kusnetz

“Sometimes all we can do is bear witness.”  (Ilyse Kusnetz)

Remembering the passing of one of our special friends, poet Ilyse Kusnetz, wife of another one of our very special friends, poet Brian Turner – both part of The Betsy Writers Room community.  Ilyse was the opening reader in a celebration of her new book, Small Hours, in late 2014, as part of the Jewish American and Holocaust Literature Conference at The Betsy-South Beach. She will be missed.  Her poetry and writing lives on. 

Ilyse Kusnetz: “Every day in my Facebook feed I see news items and petitions about gross injustices—today it just happened to be a story about animal torture that sparked my outrage, which so quickly spirals to reacting to other sound bytes of horror in my feed and in emails that are sent to me because of petitions I’ve signed—and I want to make a difference, but at the same time I feel helpless, even more so knowing that my struggle with cancer has been taking all my energy. I have to hope that others will take up the battles that need to be fought, but at the same time the search for meaning in my own life has become more urgent. Sometimes all we can do is bear witness.” (website)


Sad farewell to a beautiful soul and a wondrous voice—Ilyse Kusnetz


by Susan Lilley

The work of some poets is so intertwined with their authentic presence in the world that we can only marvel at the way their truth comes at us like a beam of light. Such a writer was Ilyse Kusnetz, who slipped the bonds of time on Tuesday after a three-year ordeal with cancer. Even in her time of illness, Ilyse was a conduit of love, hope, and above all, truth. Everyone who knew Ilyse can attest to her priceless qualities. But if I could create a personal Tarot card deck full of luminary people in my life, I would make Ilyse “The Encourager.”

The last time I saw Ilyse, she was well aware that she probably didn’t have much time left to walk the earth with the rest of us. She was busy thinking about “other things,” including making wonderful pendant necklaces, each with clusters of charms that might speak specifically to one special friend or another. I chose one with a steampunk vibe and the background of a London post mark. It represents, among other things, my vision of Ilyse as a wanderer, her extensive travels with her husband, Brian Turner, both beautiful writers with their eyes open to the world. As we talked through the afternoon that late summer Sunday, I wanted to concentrate on her, how she felt, her fears, her wellbeing. I wanted to be there for HER. She wanted to talk about art, love, beauty, what matters beyond this day or any day. She was transcendent, teaching me like she has taught so many others, more urgently now. And like she always has, she encouraged. Despite her precarious hold on life, she was concerned about my work, how and where it was going. The fact that she believed in me as a writer has meant more to me over the years than I ever got a chance to tell her.

Ilyse brought joy in so many ways—her gentle but on-target humor, her uncompromising appraisal of the world and its doings, her loyal caring as a friend, her sense of delight and youthful fun. In my phone is one of my favorites texts from her as we planned a week in Ireland a few summers ago: “Last one to the pub is a rotten egg!” Her eyes shone with brilliance, but also with love for her life and her husband; I am so grateful to have been witness to one of the great marriages of true minds.

If you have never met or heard of Ilyse Kusnetz, you are fortunate that she left a body of work that can be discovered, savored. Her book Small Hours (Winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize) will speak for her. Along with other unforgettable work you can find online. Join me in honoring her by giving her gorgeous work its due. You can start here.

Writer’s Room Alum: Idra Novey, in the news

Idra Novey from Jewish Book Councilways-to-disappearIdra Novey is a poet, translator, and newly-minted fiction writer. Ms. Novey was a Writer in Residence here at The Betsy Writer’s Room back in May, 2015. The Jewish Book Council recently interviewed Ms. Novey on her first novel, Ways to Disappear. Ms. Novey spoke about her novel during her stay with us. It addresses the power and powerlessness of parents, children, writers, and their translators, brought to light when an internationally acclaimed Jewish Brazilian writer vanishes into the branches of an almond tree.


You can read the interview, conducted by Michelle Zaurov for Jewish Book Council, HERE.

To learn more about The Betsy Writer’s Room Breakfast Arts Salon Series, visit

“Snow” by Carlos Pintado

Carlos Pintado WR picBetsy Writer’s Room alum, and local Miami poet, Carlos Pintado, was recently featured in World Literature Today. We have been delighted with readings of Carlos’ poetry as part of several programs here at The Betsy, including our 2015 Escribe Aquí Iberoamerican Festival. It is thrilling to see the rise of this talented young poet, and we can’t wait to see what is next for Carlos.

Click the image below to visit World Literature Today, and read the translated poem, “Snow” from Carlos Pintado.


Growing community with our partners at Reading Queer


AMBIENTE Magazine|Revista July 15, 2016 issue, featuring reading Queer’s NEIL DE LA FLOR |

Thrilled to witness and support the growth and success of Neil de la Flor and Reading Queer. Neil recently announced the Reading Queer Writer Residency, which will be presented in partnership with The Betsy Writer’s Room. Learn more about the mission and trajectory of this new organization in the July 15, 2016 issue of Ambiente, at the link below – or visit

Norman Manea – In the News

Norman-ManeaSaluting Betsy Writers Room and FIU Exile Writer’s Residency Alum, Norman Manea, for a fabulous shoutout as Library of America’s Story of the Week

“A few years back, the novelist Philip Roth told a Vanity Fair reporter an anecdote he has often related to underscore his concern that the audience for serious literature was dwindling to the point where it might soon become a cult…”

Read the “Story of the Week” HERE.

To learn more about Norman Manea, visit his website at

Caridad McCormick: A Woman of her Word


SFLTV recently featured one of our Writer’s Room alumnus, Caridad McCormick, in a segment called “South Florida Superheroes.” We are thrilled to share this feature on Caridad, and fully endorse her superhero status!

Our latest Classroom Crusader teaches language arts and dual enrollment at G. Holmes
Braddock High School. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! She’s a mentor, leader and inspiration to her students!

Click the above image to see the short video on Facebook, and learn more about this local super woman making a difference in the lives of young people in Miami-Dade County.