Friday, September 06, 2013

Get Lit: Book culture thriving

Creative Con lurker.
PANAMA CITY — Somebody asked me what groups are active in the area for people interested in becoming better writers. I threw a book at them.

Not really, but there’s no shortage of places for writers and readers to turn for inspiration, nuts-and-bolts information, and creative support around here. Between conferences, monthly group meetings and public readings, the local book culture appears to be healthy — and much of that is due to the direct support of the Bay County Public Library.

An estimated 1,500 people of all ages attended the recent Creative Con at the library, 898 W. 11th St. in Panama City. The event focused on graphic arts and comic books, which are many a child’s gateway to reading.

Next up, the library will welcome internationally best-selling authors Cassandra King and Pat Conroy for a pair of events to raise funds and awareness for the library’s annual Books Alive conference. Catch King and Conroy at a reception Sept. 12 (tickets are $55, which includes a copy of King’s new novel, “Moonrise”) or see them for free at the library 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 13.

For details on these events, check out our Calendar pages, visit NWRLS.com, or email Bettina Mead at bmead@baycountyfl.gov. (Click here for a full interview with King.)

Meanwhile, the library is also planning its annual Local Books Alive event, featuring authors from this area, on Oct. 12. Check back for details as they’re announced. In addition, the library hosts these writing and storytelling groups each month in its meeting room:

The Panhandle Writers Guild meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the third Tuesday, September through May. Details: PWGConnections.net

The local chapter of the Florida Writers Association meets 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the last Thursday. Details: Email Mike Brim at msbrim@comcast.net

Bay Storytellers Guild meets 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday. Details: Facebook.com/BayStorytellers

Books in Motion is the library’s book and film club, encouraging people to read classic books and view the classic films based on the books. Screenings held at 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday; the title showing Sept. 17 is “East of Eden” starring James Dean, based on the novel by John Steinbeck.

But that’s not all. Other writing groups hold monthly meetings around town:

The Panama City Writers Association: 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday in the St. Andrew Civic Club, 2629 W. 10th St. New members and visitors are welcome. Details: PanamaCityWriters.org

Writers Gallery: 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday at Chez Amavida in St. Andrews. Hear local writers share their recent work in the open mic setting, or share some of your own words.

Writers Aglow, a special group for Christian writers, has two times for meetings: 3 to 5 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday at Panera Bread by Panama City Mall, 908 E. 23rd St.; and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the third Thursday at Country Inn & Suites, 2203 Harrison Ave. Details: Email samla2@juno.com or visit WritersAglow.com

And later this month, the 14th annual Gulf Coast Writers Conference, established by local author Michael Lister, will offer free admission for the first time. The event will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Language Arts building of Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. U.S. 98.

Joining Michael as presenters are Lynne Barrett, Cricket Freeman, Ben Leroy, Jeff Koterba, Terry Lewis, Lynn Wallace, Glynn Alam and others. The conference will combine with Michael’s annual River Readings event to focus on inspiration, spirituality and creativity. Details: GulfCoastWriters.com

Also, check out the NAACP Youth Council’s “Speak On It” gatherings (the most recent was Aug. 30) by following them at Facebook.com/BNYC850. Poets, emcees, singers, artists of any variety are encouraged to participate.

There are also untold numbers of small critique groups and pop-up open mics in the region. Keep an eye out, and keep writing.

Peace. 

(This was my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com this week.)
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