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Pleasure, poetry and prose

Annual Writer's Day serves up words on the art of communication

Annual Writer's Day serves up words on the art of communication

October 03, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

"Two meals and the muses," says Ethan Fischer of what the 14th annual Writer's Day offers. "A Day of Literary Discovery," presented Saturday, Oct. 12, at Hagerstown Community College's College Center, will indeed offer two meals - breakfast and lunch.

The muses may also have their say.

Participants in the fiction/short story, poetry and non-fiction workshops are encouraged to bring some of their work for review. New and experienced writers are encouraged to attend.

Writer's Day is a rare and wonderful opportunity for writers to have a "one-on-one" session with teachers and editors, says Winnie Wagaman, managing editor of the Antietam Review, the annual literary magazine that is the project of the Washington County Arts Council.

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Fischer, Antietam Review's senior editor, and the magazine's poetry editor, poet Paul Grant, will conduct the poetry workshop.

"It's gentleness you want," in the workshop setting, says Fischer, "peripatetic professor" and poet who teaches English and composition at Shepherd and Frederick Community colleges.

"We all start from the same page," he says.

Poetry is indefinable, Fischer says. But, quoting poet William Carlos Williams, he adds, "If it ain't a pleasure, it ain't a poem."

Philip Bufithis will lead the fiction/short story workshop. Professor of English at Shepherd College, Bufithis is a senior editor at Antietam Review. The magazine, celebrating its 20th year, has become a national magazine, he says.

That means submissions of original fiction, poetry, black-and-white photography are accepted from anywhere in the U.S., anywhere in the world - not just Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C., as in previous years, says Winnie Wagaman, managing editor. That also means more submissions for editors to consider. Wagaman expects that about 800 works will be received by the Feb. 1 deadline.

"There is no shortage of good stuff," Fischer says.

Bufithis has been on the other side of a workshop critique. He remembers an author telling him that abstract expressionists don't talk the way the abstract expressionist in Bufithis' story talked. The story was published despite that negative opinion.

"It's really a hard line to walk," he says. "We try to be gentle, but you want to be constructive." It takes a lot of artfuless to be honest without being discouraging, he adds.

"Stranger Than Fiction," is the topic of the non-fiction workshop Ginny Fite will conduct. Fite, Lifestyle editor for The Herald-Mail newspapers, is an award-winning writer and editor who created "Writercizing," a program for developing the inner writer.

Carolyn Thorman is the day's keynote speaker. She also will conduct the fiction/novel workshop. Author of the novel "Holy Orders," she also wrote "Fifty Years of Eternal Vigilance," a collection of short stories.

Thorman, who lives in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., has an undergraduate degree in anthropology, a master's in sociology and a degree in law. She is clinical coordinator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., and has been writing since 1988 or '89.

She started writing because she always felt she had something to say. "Writers should only write if they have something to say," she says.

"Writing is an art of communication. The listener has to honor the writer. The writer has to honor the listener," she explains.

Although Thorman never took a writing class, she thinks you can learn how to craft a sentence. But, she says, "the key to learning how to write is to read."

Some writers say you should begin with character, Thorman says. She starts with an idea. "Something is wrong. I want to set it right."

Ultimately writing is teaching, Thorman says.

"I would like to teach people how to love."

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