The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Piper Center Artistic Director Alberto Álvaro Ríos speaking at Desert Nights, Rising Stars

Piper Center Artistic Director and Arizona inaugural Poet Laureate Alberto Álvaro Ríos speaking at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference in 2018. Photo by Kevin S Moul.

From the Director

A letter from Alberto Ríos

Welcome writers. Welcome readers.

As 2020 begins to construct itself out of all the moving parts that have characterized the start of this decade, we celebrate the 16th anniversary of the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference. 2020 as the name for a year has such a feeling of science fiction, such a placement in what used to be the future, but now the future turns out to be us.

A great deal of cultural meaning has been attached through the centuries to the number 16.  In this way, we inherit an expectation.  Is our job to be sweet?  16 is also the atomic number of sulfur, whose ancient name was brimstone—which does not mean sweet at all.  So curiously, sulfur’s atomic symbol is S, which happens to be the first letter Guglielmo Marconi sent by radio transmission across the Atlantic.  This moment was the future when it happened.

We gather over the next few days to find small and large connection, fire and brimstone, alphabet and number, future and past, and everything else, uniting in our passion for great acts of the imagination offered up as creative writing.  We gather with open minds and hearts to discover and surprise ourselves, sharing space as artists, writers, readers, and community members with the hopes that our collective sensibility will bring good into the world. Thank you for being a part of this significant milestone.  

Welcome to our home and yours at Arizona State University!

For 16 years, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing has offered this conference to connect writers to each other, to the larger conversations on creative writing, and to support the individual journey that you are on as a reader, writer, and thinker. This conference exists because we believe gathered voices hold strength, we believe that education takes place within community, and we believe our combined voices, as writers and human beings both, are the necessary catalyst for thoughtful change and a bettering of our times.

How to navigate being a writer in today’s cultural climate, social justice, literary citizenship, equity, and, of course, craft all fill our forthcoming discussions, panels, and sessions. Our faculty writers were carefully selected not only for their work as artists and educators but also their involvement in their communities. We hope that you will engage in the many new dimensions of this year’s conference, especially our expanded Literary Fair component. Our conference continues to evolve in ways that allow for more access and more engagement for you, our readers and writers. Thank you for being an integral part of this year’s conference.

Welcome to the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference 2020!

—Alberto Ríos

Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing