The Union County Writers Group hosted a Writers Fair at Stinson Memorial Library in Anna today in cooperation with the county's Colorfest. Joanne Blakely, our president of UCWG, did a great job organizing the day, and as always it was fun to socialize with fellow writers.
It was also fun to read from my book Down on the Farm in my childhood home territory, and I was able to read the Ben H. Smith poem I'd left out of the book for fear of copyright infringement. I truly believed the poem from the Gazette-Democrat was in public domain, but a slightly different version had appeared in a 1937 Houghton-Mifflin anthology and I was a little uneasy about using the poem without permission. I thought the version in the Gazette was slightly better than the anthology version, and I enjoyed sharing it.
I partly enjoyed sharing the poem orally because I resent the way the copyright law is sometimes used by book publishers. The law interpreted in a very subjective way, and no one really knows what "fair use" is. Trying to get permission to use a few words and especially a poem is putting yourself in position to jump through numerous time-consuming hoops. If you have a deadline, the hoops become impossible. And instead of helping the author as the copyright law was intended to do, often authors are denied recognition that would benefit their works. GRRRR.
After Ben H. Smith's death in 1951, the same year I was graduated from A-J, his column "Where the Hills Slope Upward" continued for many years with reprints of his poetry plus poems and letters of local authors and former residents. I wish the Gazette would reinstate the column. It was a fine thing for Union County.
Joe Neil Steward, Anna-Joneshoro graduate and a Hollywood actor for 20 years, came up from Knoxville and served as keynote speaker. In addition to reading from his novels (he has four), he began his presentation by reading a powerful Civil War poem that spoke volumes about humanity's dilemna in wartime.
G. Brooks Kohler came up from Nashville and read us one of his stories. Although he is one of our younger members and living in a major cosmopolitan area on Music
Row as a full-time screen writer, it was interesting that he along with others who shared the mike were predominatnly writing with a rural voice.
Joanne and Linda Kall had organized a writing contest for young people, and it was indeed a pleasure to hear them read their winning selections. Linda emphasized that of the 30 entries, all were excellent. Several other young people were present also throughout the day, and some partook of the open mike.
Workshops to spur creativity were participated in by all, and I think we writers all went home glad we could attend the Fair and interact with and inspire one another. Since I don't get down to our meetings as often as I'd like, it was good to see Violet Toler, Mary Sadler, Betty Hickam,Joanne Kowaleski again as well as to meet some of the many new members UCWG has attracted--Lisa Kirby,Ron Schmenk, and a long-ago friend Barbara Steffans.
Catching up - It has been a crazy couple of weeks of deliveries, unpacking product, bar coding, pricing, breaking down boxes, watering plants, writing orders, filling ...
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