Volume XI, Issue 30 ~ July 24-30, 2003

<Current Issue>
<This Weeks Lead Story>
<Dock of the Bay>
<Letters to the Editor>
<Bay Reflections>
<Burton, Sky and Sea>
<Not Just for Kids>
<8 Days a Week>
<Bayweekly in Your Mailbox>
<Print Advertising>
<Bay Weekly Links>
<Behind Bay Weekly>
<Contact Us>

Powered by

Search bayweekly.com
Search WWW


21st Century Chesapeake Country
We may Be Poor on Crabs, But We’re Rich on Writers

The Round Table of 1920s’ literati who gathered at New York’s Algonquin Hotel has nothing on Chesapeake Country — except a tony spot to lunch. Franklin Pierce Adams, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, Ruth Hale, George Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert Sherwood and Alexander Wollcott were the table’s regulars, setting literary fashion for their generation and earning many a reader’s time eight decades later.

The Algonquin, newly remodeled, still stands, but you don’t need to book a table there to rub elbows with the writers who are tackling the issues and engaging the readers of the 2000s. Here in Chesapeake Country, one or more of them’s likely to live next door.

These days, we may be richer in writers than we are in crabs.

Why is that?

Partially, it’s because Chesapeake Country nurtures a classless society. The Round Table was an aristocracy, careful to keep on the top of their ladder by throwing taunts down on anybody who dared climb it. One of their regulars, Edna Ferber of Showboat fame, called them “the Poison Squad.”

Chesapeake Country has its titled heritage and grand plantations. But we have more working people, and many of them have had the good sense to realize they’re living history and so they’ve written it down while still fresh and good. One of them is Glenn Lawson, whose book The Last Waterman we feature in this week’s Summer Guide to Maryland Reading.

If they didn’t get around to writing their own stories, somebody else was sure to do it for them, as generations of workers escaped the cities to share in the bounty of Chesapeake Country’s waterways and folkways. What those newer neighbors saw was not only beautiful country and rich water but good stories. That’s how Bay Weekly, for example, came to be.

Many newcomers wanted nothing more than to give up their city jobs and write stories of Chesapeake Country. Mick Blackistone, Donald Shomette, William Warner, John Wennersten: They fell under the Chesapeake’s spell and gave voice to its stories — though it didn’t stop them from doing an honest day’s work. You’ll find their books, too, in this week’s feature.

Still others pay the bills by teaching school or writing for newspapers while they satisfy their souls by writing books — and think themselves especially lucky if they found the freedom and inspiration to write a book on Chesapeake Country. Lucille Clifton teaches at St. Mary’s College and Sara Ebenreck taught there. Tom Horton, Bill Lambrecht, Marilyn Thompson — all represented here — are journalists. You can count Keith Walters in that profession, too, if you remember that he’s retired and writes newspaper columns for fun.

Easy access to book publishing is another part of the answer to why writers are at least as numerous as crabs in Chesapeake Country. Chesapeake writers have a great resource in Tidewater Publishing, which is dedicated to Bay books. Desktop publishing is the other great liberator, so that special-interest and small-issue books can find form and readers.

So as summer gives you time, it’s time to get to know your neighbors.



© COPYRIGHT 2003 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated July 24, 2003 @ 2:45am