In addition to publishing a top-notch, local arts magazine for the Columbia and surrounding areas, one of the other goals of Jasper is to do our part in helping to make the various arts disciplines more visible as communities unto themselves, as well as to the greater arts and non-arts communities at large.
For example, the Columbia area has an enormous number of professional authors -- fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, graphic novelists, and a number from other unique writing genres. We have so many, that it's an absolute shame that we aren't known as a Writers' Town like our good friends up in Spartanburg. (If you haven't heard about Hub City Press and the beautiful work that Betsy Teter has done for the arts --originally, it was just the writing arts but then the whole thing just exploded and now they have their own independent book shop (drool) and a performance space with artists in residence called Hub-Bub -- then please check them out.)
My friend, local writer Janna McMahan and I were enjoying bubbles at Mr. Friendly's champagne Tuesday one evening not long ago while Janna regaled me with details about her writers' community in Kentucky. Even though she has lived out of the state for a while now, the Kentucky writers still claim her as their own--the community is that close-knit and supportive. (As an aside here I'll say that there are writers' groups and then there are professional writers' groups--both are equally important. The kind Janna is talking about though consists of professional writers who support and inspire one another, offer a sense of peer mentoring, and maintain a unique community environment in which the members can both communicate about issues important to professional writers AND make their presence known to the greater community of artists, arts-lovers, and those who should be arts-lovers, at large.)
When I think about all the excellent local writers I personally know, and combine them with the excellent writers I've heard of but not met, then add on the ones I'm (sadly) not aware of -- well, just wow.
Columbia could be and should be a Writers' Town.
To that end, next Sunday, Muddy Ford Press presents An Authors' Roundtable.
(As most of you know, Muddy Ford Press is the publishing company that underwrites Jasper Magazine. What this means in that when ad sales can't cover the cost of publishing the magazine and paying modest honoraria to our saintly photo and story contributors and our layout guru on high, MFP kicks in the rest of what we need. MFP is also an active publishing company with five books out to date and four in the works. The revenue from book sales is one of the places where MFP gets the moolah to kick in for Jasper -- the other place being the generous pockets of your editor's beloved, Saint Bier Doc, the magnificent.)
An Authors' Roundtable will be an intimate book festival to both benefit Jasper Magazine and do our part to help make the Columbia writing community more prominent in the eyes of its members and the public. Granted, we're starting somewhat small on purpose so we can learn as we go. (We are in absolute awe of the work Paula Watkins and her team do with the SC Book Festival every spring--but please don't expect us to be in their league!) We asked 12 local writers to come out this time. To make it simple, we invited the MFP writers and others who had already identified themselves as friends of Jasper. It was an act of convenience, not favoritism. We hope to expand the number of writers* for the next festival and we hope to do these festivals a number of times per year. The Roundtable Writers will be reading from their books in 15 minute increments (three sets of 15 minute readings followed by a 15 minute period for book signing.) Adult refreshments will be available and the books will be available for you to take home with you as presents for your loved ones or yourself. The festival will start at 1 pm and run until 5pm or the authors have finished signing, and will be held in the historic Studios at the Arcade at 1332 Main Street in Columbia. You'll also have the chance to peep in the studios of many of the Arcade's outstanding artists and actually visit with some of our neighbors who will have their studios open that day. (You might find additional Christmas gifts ideas there, as well.)
Finally, here is the line-up of authors:
Janna McMahan, novelist
Ed Madden, poet
David Axe and Corey Hutchins, Graphic novelists
Ray McManus, poet
Don McCallister, novelist
Kristine Hartvigsen, poet
Shigeharu Kobayashi and John Pading, graphic novelists
Laurie Brownell McIntosh, artist & art book author
Cassie Premo Steel, poet
Vennie Deas Moore, photo art book writer
Debra Daniel, poet
Cindi Boiter, short fiction writer
We hope you'll join us next Sunday from 1 - 5 to SHOP LOCAL with your local writers, have a lovely holiday afternoon, and support your local arts magazine.
Happy Holidays from your friends at Jasper Magazine!
*If you are a local professional writer who would either like to participate in the next Roundtable event and help grow the community of Columbia authors, please join us around 5 or 5:30 on Sunday, upstairs at the Jasper Studios in the Arcade, Suite #75, where you'll have a chance to sip a glass of wine and introduce yourself to the other community members. If I can answer any questions for you or you would like to pre-introduce yourself, I welcome you to email me at editor@JasperColumbia.com -- I look forward to hearing from you!