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Literary Arts Summit is about more than writing

June 21, 2013|By CHRIS COPLEY | chrisc@herald-mail.com
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When organizers of this year’s Literary Arts Summit began lining up presenters, they looked for well-known names.

Right away, they landed a big fish.

“Generally, we start real big: ‘Gee, if we could get ...’ This year, the first person we were able to sign on was (James) Grady, a novelist, a journalist, an investigative reporter,” said Marty Potash, common core writing project coordinator for Washington County Public Schools. “Mr. Grady’s first book, ‘Six Days of the Condor,’ was turned into (the 1975 movie) ‘Three Days of the Condor.’ We thought, ‘Let’s head in this direction.’”

Grady is one of four presenters at the 2013 Literary Arts Summit, the third annual presentation by published writers. The event is at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown.

The annual event gives area residents a chance to meet well-known poets, novelists and other writers. Last year’s presenters were Frostburg, Md., poet Gerry LaFemina and writers Tony and Jonna Mendez, who wrote “Argo,” the novel on which Ben Affleck based his Oscar-winning movie.

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In addition to Grady, this year’s presenters are playwrights Maggie-Kate Coleman, Harry Bagdasian and Dale Stein. All four do more than simply write. Bagdasian and Stein have acted and directed plays in the Washington, D.C., area. Grady has worked on screenplays as well as novels. And Coleman — born and raised in Hagerstown — organizes groups of artist-writers who spread their creativity across more than one medium.

 As this Literary Arts Summit developed, Potash said, it became an exploration of adapting written works for the stage or screen.

“Normally, the people who have come to these (Summits) are people who are already in the literary community,” he said. “But we’re looking for anybody who loves literature, loves writing, or for this one in particular, who loves theater.”

Potash said he asked each presenter to read examples of their works, but he also asked them to talk about how they prepare their work for a visual storytelling approach.

“What we’re looking at is how the writers themselves are producing their works,” he said. “What has to be different when presenting on the stage or onto screen.”

The emphasis on theater is new this year, Potash said. But the larger goal of the Summit is the same: to bring together writers with an audience that appreciates the literary arts.

“We want to try different things each year, but keep the same tone — the camaraderie, the love of writing, the love of the word,” he said.

Meet the presenters

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