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Aspiring writers receive attention at Antietam Review's event

October 09, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Brad Barkley, author of the novels "Money, Love" and "Alison's Automotive Repair Manual," will be the keynote speaker for the 15th annual Writer's Day on Saturday, Oct. 11.

Writer's Day, presented by Antietam Review, the annual national literary magazine sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council and Hagerstown Community College will begin at 10 a.m. in the College Center on the HCC campus.

The day will begin with breakfast and registration at 9:30 a.m. There will be food for writers' thoughts in a short fiction writing workshop presented by Barkley and a fiction/novel workshop by author Carolyn Thorman. Antietam Review's poetry editor, Paul Grant, and Ethan Fischer, senior editor at the magazine, will present a poetry workshop, and Ginny Fite, former Herald-Mail Lifestyle editor and founding editor of The Gazettes in Frederick, Md., will present a nonfiction workshop.

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Writer's Day participants are encouraged to bring work - 600 to 900 words of prose, up to three poems - for the morning and afternoon sessions.

"It's very hard to get stuff published. Very hard," says Phil Bufithis, senior fiction editor with Antietam Review. The magazine, which is celebrating the release of its 23rd issue, publishes original fiction, poetry, black-and-white photography, interviews and reviews. This year, 600 to 700 short story manuscripts were received; seven stories were published.

The 2003 magazine also includes 23 poems and 23 photographs, and there are interviews with author Michael Dirda, senior book editor with The Washington Post, and novelist Denise Giardina.

The writers get a lot of individual attention, Bufithis says.

"One of our biggest thrills is that we nurture these talented writers," Bufithis says.

Barkley says he has a long history with Antietam Review. The first story he published was in the magazine's 1990 issue.

His Writer's Day presentation is titled "What's the Thing and What's the Other Thing" and is billed as a practical guide through the problems of crafting fiction. Barkley, 42, says he'll be talking about various models for shaping short stories, conceptual models for how parts of a story fit together.

His own stories apparently fit together well.

His work has been published in several journals, and he has twice been awarded the Balch Prize for fiction by the Virginia Quarterly Review. "Another Perfect Catastrophe," a collection of short fiction, will be released next spring.

Barkley started writing "seriously" about 1988, inspired by a job - editing 500-page manuscripts on radar systems - he hated. He used to write at night, from about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., but says he can't stay up that late. Married with 10- and 13-year-old children, Barkley writes in the afternoon.

It's not the best time for him, but "that's what I have," he says. "The consistency is important."

An associate professor in the English department at Frostburg State University, Barkley says teaching keeps him thinking about writing all the time."

Bufithis will review Barkley's upcoming collection for The Washington Post. He says he is pleased to have the author involved in Saturday's events.

"We like to cultivate and help along people who are earnestly pursuing the craft," Bufithis says.

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