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Second literature festival to bring national exposure

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record Staff
Cole Barton (left) and Kadin Ligtel enjoy reading next to Franz the Bear on Main Street.
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The Park City Literary Festival is garnering more attention. In the second year of the festival, writers around the country are starting to pay attention

"Last year we had about 25 authors, this year there are about 40," said Bruce Margolius, chairman of the festival.

For Margolius, quantity isn’t everything

"We also have a large number of very qualified writers, writing in different genres, coming here not only to share their books, but also in a real interest of teaching teaching writers to create good writing," Margolius said.

The festival will run from Sept. 25- Oct. 1. Tickets range from $5 to $150 depending on classes and packages. For more information on class times and dinner packages, log on to http://www.parkcitylitfest.com.

"I think what we’ve done is improve the quality of writers, we’ve certainly improved the quantity," Margolius said. "We’ve made it something for everybody. There will be educators programs, programs for teachers to learn techniques for reading and writing and there will be a children’s film festival."

Margolius and the other board members hope that household names, such as Stephen King, will be present at the festival in the future, he said, once the word gets out. While King, Tom Clancy or John Grisham won’t make an appearance yet, there is a national eye on the infant festival.

"The difference this year is we got more people who are of national stature," Margolius said, "such as (Rob) Fleder, (Marilyn) Johnson, (Peter) Richmond, people whose work is well known nationally. The children’s authors that we’ll have here are also very well known. At some point we want to have someone on best sellers list."

Fleder, the executive editor of Sports Illustrated, will be part of a sports writing seminar at the festival. On Sept. 29, the festival will hold workshops at Prospector Square "directed mainly at high school, college students and professionals who have an ambition for writing," Margolius said. "Those workshops will be in fiction, nonfiction and specifically in sports writing."

Richmond wrote the book "Ballpark: and baseball, the perfect game" which was specifically about the construction of the Baltimore Orioles stadium. Richmond worked with Fleder at a daily national newspaper called the "National."

The third person on that panel is Steven Kotler, Margolius said. Kotler wrote the book "West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief."

"He manages to tie together personal experiences of surfing, brain science and how certain neurological and biochemical events in people’s brains relate to their spiritual beliefs," Margolius said. "Having said that, Kotler is now involved in a program teaching sports writing to inner city kids in L.A. He is giving them the opportunity to learn to write about something that they are interested in so they can have success."

The instructors have a three-way bond that ties them to the workshop.

"(Kotler) and Richmond are old friends from GQ Magazine," Margolius said. "The three of them fell together in the sports-writing panel."

Margolius said the workshop will analyze an issue of Sports Illustrated and work as if they are producing an edition of the magazine. People who attend will learn how to write about certain topics and what makes a good sports story.

"All these guys have a lot of magazine and daily experience," Margolius said. "What we hope is to be of interest to college students, high school and professional sports writers."

Fiction is also a priority in the festival. The workshops will help writers move beyond the white, vacant page.

"They will teach how long you should stare at a blank paper," Margolius said, "and the issues that arise with actually trying to write that material."

The final weekend of the festival will be packed with writers and will feature more of a local emphasis with what Margolius termed the "Mines to Medals" panels.

"Saturday we get into the full-tilt author readings and panel discussions. That continues through Sunday and we wrap up with an event that will deal with Park City and ski industry history," Margolius said. "It’s like the grand finale."

Throughout the week of events, there will be speeches, workshops and book signings covering the gamut of genres from obituaries, biographies, non-fiction and fiction, and turning scripts into movies.

The literary council wants the festival to be a spawning ground for more literary events throughout the year.

"The goal of the literary council is to increase, in the community, an awareness of literature and to help promote literacy," Margolius said. "In order to achieve that end, we are trying to not only put on this festival but also a number of events throughout the year that will draw people’s attention to literature, the written word and all the ways that it is important.

"The festival is to celebrate and inspire reading and writing," Margolius continued. "The festival is a party for doing that and also the mechanism."

Margolius hasn’t organized this event alone.

"A lot of people have been making this happen," he said. "The board, Zions Bank, (county taxes), the city has been very helpful; Prospector Square Lodge has bent over backwards to do everything for us, a lot of merchants in the area have also been generous."

"I’d really like to stress the literary council is an ongoing organization that will, through the course of the year, bring other programs through community. The festival itself should get everybody excited about books. Dolly’s bookstore has been very generous and they are setting up a store so people can buy books from the authors."

Margolius hopes this festival will create a fresh enthusiasm for the written word.

"In my view, the printed word is still the best medium for communicating information and stirring imagination that mankind has invented," he said. "Reading and writing are fundamental skills in a civilized society and can never be replaced by television, e-mail, instant messaging or whatever other new technologies evolve."

The second annual Park City Literary Festival will run from Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 at Prospector Square, schools and other venues in Park City. Weekend programs day pass are $10, individual sessions are $5, children’s programs are free of charge. The book to film screening and discussion is $10, the Amelia Kincaid workshop is $60. Author private home dinners (10-20 persons) cost $150 per person. Saturday evening author and restaurant dinners are $90 per person. For more information on the festival, e-mail 4sq@uofu.net or log on to http://www.parkcitylitfest.com.


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