Friday, November 11, 2005

Celebrating the Written Word All Week

A year and a half ago, three of us got together at the Arabica's in University Circle to kick around an idea. We all liked the New Yorker Magazine's annual fall citywide celebration devoted to writing and reading, which began about 1999 and has steadily grown bigger and better each year. So why couldn't we have something like that here? We began drawing up some ideas, not only of the kinds of programs we thought would be interesting, but also the kinds of people and groups that might make for good collaborators.

Kathy Delong soon went back to her hectic schedule, editing Northern Ohio Live magazine (she subsequently became managing editor of the Cleveland Clinic Press). And I went back to what I do. But the third member of our trio, Darlene Montonaro, the pint-sized executive director of the Poets and Writers League of Greater Cleveland, did what she always does: began making it happen.

It's turned into the weeklong Wordcrafters Literary Festival (details
here). Events kick off tomorrow, Saturday, at the University Center at Cleveland State University, with the Writing for Money conference. It's an all-day (9:00-5:00) event, with sessions on poetry, journalism and fiction. I'll be moderating a panel on freelancing, but I'm even more charged to introduce the keynote speaker, Michael Ruhlman (check out his work here). Mike is, simply put, one of the most accomplished writers in the region, a nationally known pen who's written more than a half dozen books of quiet beauty, many of them explorations into what it means to have one's life work dedicated to craftsmanship. The influential business-change guru Tom Peters once recommended that everyone should read 10 books; Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef is among them.

But maybe the greatest thing of all to come out of all this activity is a slim oversized paperback book, with a beautiful red cover bearing a splendid Cleveland scene by the incomparable local artist Hector Vega. Cleveland in Prose and Poetry, edited by an energetic lady named Bonnie Jacobson, was pulled together in just four months. It's a collection of some of the most interesting observations ever written about Cleveland, by writers past and present (I'm still silently berating myself for not getting off the dime in time to contribute my own take). I hope you can make any or all of these events. If price is a hurdle for tomorrow's Writing for Money conference, Darlene at the PWLGC tells me a substantial discount is available for anyone who contacts her at 216-421-0403. (Just mention you saw it here, but you must first register ahead, no discounts for those who show up at the door). And finally, one free conference registration--call it the Working With Words scholarship--goes to the first of my readers who drops me a note by email or by phone before 4 p.m. eastern time, today, at 216-382-6548.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Greta Garbo said...


I enjoyed meeting you when you spoke at West Side Writers, and I am registered for the WRiting for $ conference tomorrow--hope to see you there! Thanks for noting the keynote speaker, too--I'll have to make sure to bring along my copy of Soul of a Chef.

Might also have to take you up on that "scholarship," too!

Looking forward to tomorrow. If any thing, ti will be a nice break from the little one! (plus I need to see how the hubby hacks it solo for a day:))

Debbie Pecis

At 3:28 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Hi Debbie,
I'm thrilled to learn you'll be there tomorrow. You'll be glad you invested the day. And you deserve a break from childcare every now and then--your husband will do just fine by himself. Sorry to say, but a nice lady named Leah beat you to the punch by just an hour on my offer of a free registration. But I'll be sure to do something similar again. Mostly, I'm just looking forward to chatting with you once more.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous RTA said...

Johnny: Do you ever provide more than 24 hrs notice for one of your can't miss events?

At 10:42 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

you're right to rap me on the knuckles. Ordinarily, I would have blasted something like this to my entire email list a week ahead of time. But I've been running way behind lately. On the other hand, I felt this one needed less of my individual push because lots of other FAR-larger-circulation e-pubs mentioned it, with full links, and with much longer warning. Cool Cleveland was good enough to include it in its Wednesday edition, and the 1,000--subscriber SPJ e-letter, Writers' Week (which I would encourage everyone to sign up for, by sending an email to and the even larger PWLGC email list told their folks about it several times and well before the event. So needless to say, I don't depend on people finding notice of writerly events on Working With Words. Still, your message is heard loud and clear. And do send me some dates by email when we can catch up soon. My best to your lovely wife.


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