2007-03-23 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
Commentary by Sharon Gabriel

Commentary by Sharon Gabriel

Well, being the columnist for the RMAC you would have thought I would have written about our upcoming Literary Festival a long time ago. So, as an excuse, I was never known as speedy. Having lived three blocks from the old PS 44, I still came late to school and ended up in the principal's office many a day.

The Literary Festival will be held on Sunday, April 22 at both the RAA Gallery and the RTC Theatre at Ft. Tilden.

Thank you to fellow columnists Susan Hartenstein, Liz Guarino and Stuart Mirsky for your enthusiasm and interest.

Actually, Stuart Mirsky is the person who brought the idea to the RMAC. Sometime last Fall, the RMAC Board met with Mirsky and he first presented the idea to us. It all seemed overwhelming at the time, and it still is. However, as things fall into place I know it will be a great event and a first for Rockaway.

As Mirsky wrote in his column, The Rockaway Irregular, last week, he is continuing to profile the participants. I thought it would be a good idea to profile Stuart Mirsky, and so I spoke with him the other day.

Mirsky worked for the City for many years, and now retired, is probably busier than ever. He recently ran for public office on the Republican ticket here in Rockaway, but that is another matter. He has written one novel, The King of Vinland's Saga , a story of the Norse in North America 500 years before Columbus, and is working on a second book (though currently he says he's having writer's block). He said that writing was always something he wanted to do and thought he would do it full time after retiring. Though that doesn't seem to have happened, the Literary Festival snuck in.

The idea of a Literary Festival came to him after seeing them in other places and he thought, "why not here in Rockaway," and so the idea was eventually brought to the RMAC.

Mirsky mentioned to me that, among other things missing in Rockaway, is a bookstore, and so we will have one at the Literary Festival. Negotiations are underway with one of the leading booksellers to provide published books at the Festival.

Included in the authors to be present are Jill (Eisenstadt) Drinkard and her husband Michael Drinkard, both published authors. Jill is probably best known for her 1988 novel From Rockaway and in 1992 her novel Kiss Out , both published by Knopf. Michael has also had several novels published, including Green Bananas in 1989, Disobedience in 1993 and in 2006, Harcourt published Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead , a work of historical fiction taking place in Brooklyn during the Revolution.

Additionally, if you are a writer and are looking for a publisher, this is the place to be on April 22. Several well known publishers will be present and if you would like to meet with them I suggest you contact Mirsky at soon as possible at 718-634-0577 and make the arrangements. All types of material are being looked at including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, long and short-form.

If you have thoughts and ideas about being a screenwriter, there will be a Film Writer's Symposium with seven or eight different filmmakers who will be more than happy to meet with you. Additionally several screenings will be held at The Rockaway Theatre Company theatre to possibly include "Women of Rockaway" by Kevin Breslin, the Brett Morgen documentary "Chicago 10," which opened Robert Redford's 2007 Sundance Film as well as his "On The Ropes" an Academy Award nominated documentary. Included in the films to be shown will be "Rockaway Bungalows," produced by Elizabeth Logan Harris and Jennifer Callahan, which is all about the bungalow colony that was Rockaway for so many years. Of course I'm partial to this one because I was interviewed and filmed as part of the film. So, I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm still in the film or whether I ended up on the proverbial "cutting room floor." I told Mirsky that since this is the second film I've been in, maybe I should apply to SAG (Screen Writers Guild), and he said not to forget another film to be shown entitled "HAG." Mirsky explained it stands for Hassidic Actors Guild, a "mockumentary" done by Rockaway resident Yisroel Lifschutz. In describing the film Mirsky compared it to Woody Allen's "Zelig" as Zelig lite. This part of the discussion just made me laugh and I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

According to Mirsky another important guest, who will be a moderator at the festival, will be George Rodman, Chair of the Television & Radio Department of Brooklyn College.

The committee includes Maxine Schack and our own Barbara Eisenstadt, Shirley Golub, Rosemary Curley, Bernice Meyers, Myra Berger and Mirsky, who have done a fantastic job in creating the Literary Festival.

Mirsky and his wife live in Belle Harbor and are the parents of two daughters and one son and several grandchildren who alone probably keep him very busy.

We look forward to visiting with everyone on the 22nd of April. Come join us for light refreshments and meet all of the guests.

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