Celebrating the Written Word All Week
A year and a half ago, three of us got together at the Arabica's in University Circle to kick around an idea. We all liked the New Yorker Magazine's annual fall citywide celebration devoted to writing and reading, which began about 1999 and has steadily grown bigger and better each year. So why couldn't we have something like that here? We began drawing up some ideas, not only of the kinds of programs we thought would be interesting, but also the kinds of people and groups that might make for good collaborators.
Kathy Delong soon went back to her hectic schedule, editing Northern Ohio Live magazine (she subsequently became managing editor of the Cleveland Clinic Press). And I went back to what I do. But the third member of our trio, Darlene Montonaro, the pint-sized executive director of the Poets and Writers League of Greater Cleveland, did what she always does: began making it happen.
It's turned into the weeklong Wordcrafters Literary Festival (details here). Events kick off tomorrow, Saturday, at the University Center at Cleveland State University, with the Writing for Money conference. It's an all-day (9:00-5:00) event, with sessions on poetry, journalism and fiction. I'll be moderating a panel on freelancing, but I'm even more charged to introduce the keynote speaker, Michael Ruhlman (check out his work here). Mike is, simply put, one of the most accomplished writers in the region, a nationally known pen who's written more than a half dozen books of quiet beauty, many of them explorations into what it means to have one's life work dedicated to craftsmanship. The influential business-change guru Tom Peters once recommended that everyone should read 10 books; Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef is among them.
But maybe the greatest thing of all to come out of all this activity is a slim oversized paperback book, with a beautiful red cover bearing a splendid Cleveland scene by the incomparable local artist Hector Vega. Cleveland in Prose and Poetry, edited by an energetic lady named Bonnie Jacobson, was pulled together in just four months. It's a collection of some of the most interesting observations ever written about Cleveland, by writers past and present (I'm still silently berating myself for not getting off the dime in time to contribute my own take). I hope you can make any or all of these events. If price is a hurdle for tomorrow's Writing for Money conference, Darlene at the PWLGC tells me a substantial discount is available for anyone who contacts her at 216-421-0403. (Just mention you saw it here, but you must first register ahead, no discounts for those who show up at the door). And finally, one free conference registration--call it the Working With Words scholarship--goes to the first of my readers who drops me a note by email or by phone before 4 p.m. eastern time, today, at 216-382-6548.