The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule 2018

Conference Schedule 2018

Saturday, Feb 24, 2018

What American Regionalism Means to Me
Claire Vaye Watkins

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

A talk about American regionalism, the Western, and reading and writing the American West today.

Location: Traditions, University Club
Type: Presentation, Talk
Genre: Fiction, Mixed Genre

Error & Accident: Using Found Materials
Ander Monson

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

This session explores the usefulness of error in research. Often in researching, the thing that's really important isn't the thing we're looking for, but the thing right next to it. We'll discuss the use of found forms and materials in essays, poems, and stories.

Location: Heritage, University Club
Type: Presentation
Genre: Essays, Fiction, Hybrid, Mixed Genre, Poetry, Research

Mining the Poetic Unconscious
Kaveh Akbar

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Transcendent American poet Max Ritvo wrote that if the world outside a poet’s head is more interesting than the world inside their head, they might as well become a journalist. His point: it’s what’s inside the poet’s mind, what (or who) is hooting or singing or moaning or gagging inside the poet’s own totally unique psychic ecosystem that allows the poet access to a singular voice.

Location: Basha, Old Main
Type: Generative Workshop, Presentation
Genre: Poetry

Writing for Sequential Art and the Quest for Silence
Cecil Castellucci

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

We will explore writing for comics, the golden age of which is currently unfolding around us. What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling your story sequentially? And how does one make full use of the medium? How do we write stories for a visual medium? What are some options for using the visual in our stories? And how do we find the quiet spaces in our narratives?

Location: Thoren, Old Main
Type: Presentation
Genre: Comics, Fiction, Graphic Novels

Lyrical Resistance: The Power of Ethnographic Poetry
Rosemarie Dombrowski

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

Arts-Based Research has been gaining traction in the social sciences, specifically regarding the use of personal poetry as a means of recording the stories of the marginalized, as well as the use of ethnographic poetry as a means of inscribing the cultural record. This session will explore the ways in which poetry can simultaneously act as cultural document and vehicle for social transformation.

Location: Thoren, Old Main
Type: Presentation
Genre: Poetry

How to Freeze Time
Jenny Johnson

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

Ever wished your sentences could warp a reader's sense of time like a high-speed camera slowing motion? We will be looking at sentences in poems and prose that impact our perception of time. This session will include a rich discussion of a few examples and a writing exercise.

Location: Traditions, University Club
Type: Craft Class, Generative Workshop, Presentation
Genre: Fiction, Mixed Genre, Poetry

The Same Thing, But Different: Writing Series Fiction, Sequels, and Connected Stories
Tod Goldberg

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

Creating a character, a world, and a central conflict that can be sustained over several years is the key to writing series fiction and sequels and connected short stories. In this session, we'll examine prize-winning works of literature, genre fiction, and short fiction to learn how everyone from Richard Ford to James Lee Burke to Alice Munro, among many others, have crafted works that they can return to, time and again.

Location: Heritage, University Club
Type: Presentation
Genre: Fiction, Mixed Genre, Short Stories

False Starts: Finding Where Your Story Really Begins
Amy K. Nichols

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

Of all the revising that happens when crafting a novel, perhaps the most effort goes into writing (and rewriting, and rewriting…) the beginning. Finding the right opening can be difficult, and it’s easy to become blind to your own work. In this interactive session, we’ll discuss how to find where your story really starts, and help willing participants identify the real beginnings of their stories. Bring the first page of your novel if you want to participate in this impromptu session.

Location: Basha, Old Main
Type: Presentation, Workshop
Genre: Fiction, Mixed Genre, Short Stories

The Direction of Contemporary Fiction
Emily Bell, Ander Monson, Rayhané Sanders

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.

What is the current pulse of contemporary creative writing in the United States? Where is fiction right now? What predictions can we make for the literary future from the present moment? What trends, blends of genres, and literary techniques do we witness emerging from new authors and veterans of the craft? In this panel, editors Emily Bell, Ander Monson, and literary agent Rayhané Sanders share their perspectives on the landscape and trajectory of contemporary literature: what they’re excited about, what major issues are arising, current challenges for fiction writers, and more.

Location: Carson Ballroom, Old Main
Type: Panel
Genre: Business of Writing, Editing, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Publishing

Genres and Their Place in Your Work
Charlie Jane Anders

Saturday, February 24, 2018, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

What are genres? Why do we have them? How do genres reflect real-life events? And most importantly, when you decide to write about zombies or spaceships, what are you committing yourself to? What do these things usually mean, and what do they mean to you personally? In this session, we will discuss how to use genres mindfully, and create stories that make good use of them.

Location: Basha, Old Main
Type: Presentation
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Science Fiction

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