Michael Garabedian has been in Durango for less than half a year, but hes already making a mark on the literary community.
Within days of his arrival in town last fall, Garabedian a published author and Screen Actors Guild member founded Durango Story Writers. The selective group, which is by invitation only and requires serious commitment on the part of its members, meets regularly at the Durango Arts Center to discuss writing techniques and critique each others work.
What Im trying to do is contribute as much as I can to get a literary community going, Garabedian said of his efforts.
With a core group of 10 members, Garabedian is ready to take things public. On Sunday, hell begin a monthly series of dramatic literary readings at the Durango Arts Center that will showcase the efforts of the members. For the first program, From Tragedy to Comedy, Garabedian will lead by example; he wrote all six of the stories that hell be reading/performing.
Ive been told the pieces Ive written are so different its like they were written by different people, he said.
Garabedians readings The Breath of a River, Fight, Santa Barbara Haute-Bourgeois Mother Visits Son and Latina Daughter-in-Law for Dinner, To Cross the Woods, Deaf Girl and Darlene the Head Make-Up Woman Gives Inside Scoop on Show Business are a mix of comedy and heavier topics.
The more suspenseful pieces, Fight and To Cross the Woods, will be followed by flute music played by Cassie Robel and Delana Pleasants to, as Garabedian explained, ease the tension, of the heavier works.
Readers can get a sneak peak at Breath of a River in the new edition of Arts Perspective magazine. Its the first entry in an ongoing series of local short fiction that publisher Denise Leslie is reserving exclusively for the members of the Durango Story Writers.
As far as a writers workshop goes, its an incredible benefit because we have a publishing arm for our group, Garabedian said.
Garabedian plans to hold monthly literary readings featuring the work of members of the group. He envisions the authors themselves reading the work as well as outside actors and musicians, and future events also could include dramatic readings of more-established works such as Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath or cowboy poetry. Hes pitching the idea of a live radio broadcast to local stations KSUT and KDUR with grander plans to expand to regional or national broadcasts.
Imagine being at the first broadcast of Prairie Home Companion, he said, referring to the long-running public radio favorite hosted by Garrison Keillor.
Im sure they didnt expect the success theyve had, so you never know.
In addition to Durango Story Writers, Garabedian is starting two more groups for local writers. Novel writing and an advanced short-story workshop are coming soon for more polished writers, and members of both groups will be eligible to participate in future DAC events as well as have their work considered for publication in Arts Perspective.