Concord Women Writers members Tracy Winn and Emily Rubin at the library. Photo by Laurie O'Neill

Concord Women Writers mark Women’s History Month with author talks  

March 4, 2024

By Laurie O’Neill — Correspondent 

What better place is there in which to live and write than Concord? After all, it is where the Alcotts, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson and others penned essays, novels, and short stories that helped spawn a literary revolution in the 19th century.  

“Concord is special,” said Emily Rubin, a local writer. “I still can’t believe that Louisa May Alcott wrote her great works in a house that still stands and where we can all visit. I just love that.”   

Fifteen years ago, inspired by living in a community with such a rich literary history, Rubin suggested to a writer friend, Tracy Winn, that they organize a group of women who could support each other through the process of writing and publishing their work. 

The Concord Women Writers was born, and its eight active members, with several more “in the wings,” Rubin said, hail from Concord and the surrounding area. Members meet monthly to encourage one another, particularly since they work “in a field that hasn’t historically favored women,” she added. “We’re a pretty bonded group.”  

The group is non-competitive, Rubin noted, and the writers do not provide feedback on each other’s work in progress. 

Rather, they share resources on issues like how to find an agent, commiserate over rejections, and celebrate successes. “We have really terrific conversations,” said Rubin.  

When someone’s work is published, it’s cause for excitement. “We raise our cups of tea,” said Winn with a smile. 

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, the CWW is presenting four talks by its members at the Concord Free Public Library each week in March. The series begins Thursday, March 7 with a read-through of an original work by playwright Michele Markarian, author of The Unborn Children of America and Other Family Procedures, a collection of six plays. Markarian is also a fiction writer and a sometime actor. 

Connecting through craft

Being a writer can be isolating, a feeling exacerbated by the pandemic, Winn said. The CWW proved “a writers’ lifeline for us,” she added, even though the group had to meet on Zoom. 

Members offer each other encouragement, said Rubin, “when someone is struggling with writing and feeling ungrounded, or when they are dealing with personal challenges or trying to balance writing with family responsibilities.” The meetings also serve to “hold us all accountable,” she added, as they begin with each member providing an update on her current project. 

CWW members work in a variety of genres and styles, writing novels, short stories, essays, poetry, plays, biographies, and creative non-fiction. Among the group is a nature writer, a multi-media poet, and a children’s book author. “It’s so amazing that we all do different types of writing’” said Winn, “but we’re all connected by being writers.” 

An enduring love of words

Rubin and Winn say they can’t remember when they weren’t writers, recalling the stories, poems, and plays they composed as children. Their passion for writing never waned.  

A practicing therapist and an assistant professor in the UMass Chan Medical School psychiatry department, Rubin just received a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School. She publishes academic papers in social work and psychiatry journals and is working on a book for clinicians. But she also writes fiction and non-fiction around themes of resiliency and overcoming obstacles, has held writing residencies, and used to write a column for the Boston Globe

Rubin earned a Master of Arts in writing at the University of New Hampshire. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her short story “Days of Awe” and co-authored a non-fiction book about a Holocaust survivor, As I am Presently Known.  

A former elementary school teacher and teacher trainer, Winn has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and has won grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, among other organizations. Mrs. Somebody Somebody, her 2010 debut collection of linked fictional stories about a Massachusetts mill town and its diverse residents as they confront the realities of post-war America, was a Julia Ward Howe Award finalist. Her creative non-fiction has appeared in several literary journals. 

The cover of a book by CWW member Kelly Matthews scheduled for release in June. Courtesy image  

More to discuss

After the March 7 talk, the series continues March 13, when the subject will be biographies and creative non-fiction. Kelly Matthews, a professor of Irish Literature and English teacher preparation at Framingham State University, will talk about her work, including her biography of Irish playwright Brian Friel, which will be published in June. 

Cathy Schen, M.D., an adult and adolescent psychiatrist and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, has published on topics including mothers who leave their children, the ethics of writing about patients, the restorative aspects of farming and Willa Cather’s search for belonging.

She will read from her latest work, Without a Trace: A Life with Oil

Rubin and Winn will present on March 20, touch on their paths to publication, and read from their work. On March 27, the authors will be Ros Zimmerman, an artist and poet, and Linda Booth Sweeney, an educator who writes for children and adults about the wonder of hidden things and how nature is comprised of patterns of interconnections we cannot see. 

The free author talks will take place in the Main Library’s Goodwin Forum at 6 p.m. Registration via is encouraged.