2007-03-30 / Community

Literary Festival Brings Readers, Writers Together

Do you love books and movies and all things literary, and have some free time next month?

What do you do? The Rockaway Music and Arts Council has the answer.

RMAC will host its first annual Literary Arts Festival Sunday, April 22 at Ft. Tilden, Gateway National Recreation Area. It will bring together authors and filmmakers from the local area, and from as far away as Canada and California.

This free event will feature a series of panel discussions built around authors' works and include a unique on-site Festival bookstore set up especially for the day.

"It's really amazing that there aren't any bookstores on our entire peninsula," said Barbara Eisenstadt, Chairwoman of the RMAC and one of the leading event organizers. "With all the development we're seeing here, no one seems to have thought about books. We're hoping the festival can help fill that void, at least for a day, and that it will demonstrate that people on our peninsula are thirsting for greater access to books and literature of all sorts."

The festival, which is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 22 , will take place both in the art galleries operated by the Rockaway Artists Alliance and in the old Post Theater, run by the Rockaway Theatre Company.

Also participating in this event are iUniverse and Xlibris, two major self-publishing companies who rely on digital printing technology to make self-publishing and book distribution accessible and affordable to all.

Kathryn Gordon, Director of Author Marketing for iUniverse, said, "We see this as a great opportunity to show new and aspiring writers who may be struggling with the realities of modern commercial publishing that the doors aren't necessarily closed to them. Modern technology has opened new vistas and opportunities for getting your writing out there and companies like ours are positioned to help people take advantage of this." Gordon will be among several participants in a panel discussion on new paradigms in the publishing world with John Feldcamp, CEO of Xlibris, as well as a number of editors from major publishing houses, a literary agent, and the operator of a newly opened, non-traditional East Village bookstore intended to cater to small press and self-published books.

Visitors to the Festival will have the chance to hear from authors of suspense and historical fiction, children's literature, and literature focusing on women's experiences, who will talk about the experience of writing in their particular genres. A special presentation by gourmet food maven, author and radio personality Arthur Schwartz and food writer Rozanne Gold will help round out the day. Other planned activities include poetry readings and a writing workshop for young booklovers and aspiring young authors.

At the nearby Post Theater, up to eight filmmakers and screenwriters will hold a screenwriting symposium highlighting local films and artists. Titled "The Literature of Film ," the symposium will be hosted and moderated by Professor George Rodman, Chair of the Brooklyn College Television and Radio Department who plans a full day of film clips and discussions revolving around roughly a half dozen film entries. Clips will include entries from the newly released Sundance Film Festival opener, "The Chicago 10," by award winning director Brett Morgen. Also included are "The Irish Ropes," by local filmmaker and award winner Robert Sarnoff, director Kevin Breslin's "Women of Rockaway," and Kevin Boyle's recently completed "Wounded Warriors" which documents the work of Rockaway's Graybeards, a local philanthropic organization, in supporting recently returned injured veterans.

Writers Digest , a magazine for writers, will distribute up to 500 copies of its latest issue to visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis. The magazine has also donated free one-year magazine subscriptions to be awarded to winners of a specially conducted school-based student writing competition at day's end. Xlibris and iUniverse are also contributing supporters of the student competition. Winning entries will be compiled in an anthology of the best local writing, under the auspices of the RMAC, and published at a later date.

Books by authors in attendance will be available for sale all day at the Festival bookstore where authors will also do individual readings, signings, etc.

A number of professionals in the publishing field, including editors and one literary agent, have expressed a willingness to meet with new writers about their book proposals. Arrangements must be made in advance with Festival organizers at 718-945-6700.

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