Written Art festival celebrates 29 Routt County authors | SteamboatToday.com

Written Art festival celebrates 29 Routt County authors

Nicole Inglis

Tony Crawford is one of 30 authors appearing at Written Art, a festival of local authors taking place at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Crawford, a Vietnam veteran, wrote a fictitious memoir reflecting on "early old age."

— The narrative of "Cottonwood," a fictional memoir by local author Tony Crawford, picks up in the year 2007, at the same time Crawford began to write it.

As the story wove on, however, he found that its twists and turns were better suited to come from a fictional author, who evolved into pen name Tom Dawson.

"Cottonwood" reflects past times far away in Vietnam during the war and adventures south of the United States border: a melding of fiction and reality set in a town called Cottonwood Springs in the mountains of Northwest Colorado.

Crawford, a 12-year resident of Steamboat Springs, now is living in Denver undergoing treatment for a form of cancer that has been linked to the Agent Orange chemical used in Vietnam.

While his healing from the war took place decades ago, he said writing this book — his first — was about reflecting as he enters a stage he calls "early old age."

"Part of them will always be back there," Crawford said about Vietnam veterans. "They," in this case, includes himself and Tom Dawson, whose memoirs share some of the same experiences as the actual writer.

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"Yet, they come back and they raise their families and they've done this and done that, but they're on the down slope, so it's time to reflect on how things are. And hopefully, it's thought-provoking reflection, which is what books are all about. 'What have I done, who am I, and … how do I feel about it?'"

Crawford, appearing as Tom Dawson, will be one of 29 authors highlighted in Saturday's Written Art, a festival of local authors coinciding with the fourth annual All Arts Festival.

The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bud Werner Memorial Library and is the result of collaboration among the library, the Steamboat Springs Writers' Group, the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.

Bookstore event coordinator Kim Keith said the event will be like its own mini-bookstore of local titles, taken "outside the walls" of the store's Ninth Street location.

"We love local authors," Keith said. "I think it's really important to recognize the talent that resides in this town.

"It shows their commitments to what they're doing, that they're passionate about whatever their subject matter might be. It's about sharing with all the visitors who come to Steamboat how special it is and how special the residents are."

Included are authors ranging from poets to historians, novelists to memoirists. Several authors will offer 20-minute panels on various literary topics from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., moderated by bookstore owner Ron Krall.

All of the authors' books will be available for sale and for signing at Library Hall.

Some are first-time authors, like John Grassby, whose "Calcutta Sunrise" came out in early June.

Others, like Dagny McKinley, are building on their writing careers. McKinley, the author of "Wild Hearts: Dog Sledding the Rockies," is presenting two new books at Written Art, a memoir about her good-natured mother and a collection of a series of stories McKinley said in a news release is "a cross between a novella and an unfolding of life."

Keith said the new event fits snugly into the breadth of arts and culture on display this week during the All Arts Festival.

"I think in conjunction with the All Arts Festival, it's just adding this element of literary art, or the spoken word as art," she said. The All Arts Festival already features visual, performing and musical art. Books, Keith said, are “a collection of letters and symbols painting a picture in your imagination instead of on a canvas."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

Written Art schedule

10:30 a.m. Recording History: Research, Writing, Photography with Sylvia Duncan, Harriet Freiberger, Ken Proper, Sureva Towler and Daniel Tyler

11:30 a.m. Novel Ideas: A chat with fiction writers Veronica Blake, John Grassby, Kathleen Cunningham Guler, J.L Hardesty and Cesare Rosati

12:30 p.m. Nonfiction: Writing Life’s Adventure from the Land and the Sea with Mary Kurtz, Bonnie McGee and Dagny McKinley

1:30 p.m. Poetic License, a conversation and reading with Ann A. Stranahan

Participating local authors

Veronica Blake

Ali Boehm

Eugene Buchanan

Mary Calhoun

Patrick Curran

Tom Dawson

Sylvia Duncan

Harriet Freiberger

John Grassby

Kathleen Cunningham Guler

J.L. Hardesty

Mary Kurtz

Bonnie McGee

Dagny McKinley

Dawn Obrecht, M.D.

Joyce Phillips

Ken Proper

Ambrose Richardson

Steven Richheimer

Cesare Rosati

John Sant’Ambrogio

Mark Scott-Nash

Mayling Simpson

Ann A. Stranahan

Sureva Towler

Daniel Tyler

Christy Elise Woodland

John Wilkinson

Chris Zuschlag

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