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April 22, 2009 / merlisser

Arkansas Literary Festival

I like books. I think reading is a great thing to do and I think reading is important. So when there is an event in Arkansas that focuses on reading or books that I am interested in. I am there.

Needless to say after that introduction, I am in a complete lather over the Arkansas Literary Festival. This is the first year I have had time to go. I didn’t attend any Friday day activities because I don’t live in Little Rock and had some work duties I needed to complete. I did, however, go to the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater fundraiser at the Starving Artist Cafe.

I think I was the only non friend of the theater group there. It was a very small group there. I was a little sad. I did see some former college classmates. I saw some good music, some Shakespearean acting, and got some cake. Cake makes everything better.

The next day, I ended up attending three workshops. ( think they were called workshops): (1) blog.diary.journal; (2) Writing about Music Panel; and (3) Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons with Johnathan Rosenbaum.

The first panel was intended for people who were newer to online blogging and journal writing. They explained the different formats such as WordPress; blogger and livejournal, among others. They explained that there is no privacy on the internet and to “pretend your mother is reading this.”

Ms. Kearney was President Clinton’s diarist. She attended the senior staff meeting every morning and was given papers as well as computer copies of documents in order to compile a diary that would be useful to historians and regular folk alike. Phil Bildner is a children’s book author and blogger. Mary Anne Radmacher writes about journalling and teaches writing.

The second panel consisted of Kevin Brockmeier and Carol Ann Fitzgerald, managing Editor of the Oxford American reading excerpts from The Oxford American Book of Great Music Writing.

Kevin Brockmeier read an excerpt about Iris DeMent and Carol Ann Fitzgerald’s excerpt was about Bessie Smith Brockmeier’s piece was more an analytical set about the music and how it affected him as a listener, describing the emotions felt as he listened, the approach he has to music, and the details of the singer’s voice and instrumentation. Fitzgerald’s piece was more confessional of both her life and Bessie Smith’s including tidbits about Fitzgerald’s friendship with the woman who introduced her to Bessie Smith and Bessie Smith’s legendary temper.

I’m not sure which tactic is best for writing about music and both can be effective. Music, as a aural medium, is almost impossible to explain visually so it seems to be that the best you can do is describe yourself enough so that the reader will find you as someone whose opinion to be valued and describe the experience of listening to the tune in a way that makes the reader decide whether or not he or she wants to experience the same thing as well. It’s a difficult thing to do and especially a difficult thing to do well.

Tidbit: Kevin Brockmeier is a fellow list maker and keeps a list of his 50 favorite books and albums. He carries them with him at events. I got copies of both. Full disclosure: I went to Arkansas Governor’s School with Kevin so I remember him and have watched him over the years. He remembers me as “Sam’s girlfriend” since they both were in the theater arts. No matter how smart you think your friends or people you know are, it’s still a little surreal to see them plastered on the national stage.

The third workshop was Jonathon Rosenbaum talking about Canons of movies. This sounds esoteric but basically this means that people clump movies into groups. They deny they do it but really they do. For example, most of the things you read in English class would be considered “English literature” –in that it’s original text is using the English language, not necessarily that it originated from England — canon.

Rosenbaum was an advocate that everybody gets the type of DVD players that enable you to watch DVDs from other countries (apparently they’re in different formats and aren’t viewable on the plain jane dvd player I got from Walmart for 30 bucks). With the DVD player in tow, you can then order DVDs from other countries like Germany and England.

I ended up buying a lot of books and managed to run out of money before Pub and Perish. I might regret that someday.

I wrote this in detail because my reading and movie loving friend Jennybee missed this due to family togetherness.

Since everybody and their mama has a blog, here’s what some others had to say about their trip to Arkansas.

Phil’s blog: one and two

Rosenbaum writes a snippet here. (our local paper gets some great publicity)

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