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GREENSBORO—From “The Iliad” to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” poetry has been a storytelling force for thousands of years. Poetry examines the relationships around us: in politics, myth, and among our families and friends. The genre is unique in its power to engage the listener and serve as a catalyst for change.

At the upcoming North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, attendees have the opportunity to examine this time-honored method of storytelling and search for the deeper connections in the fabric of everyday life in workshops led by three highly acclaimed poets.

Joseph Mills, author of five poetry collections including This Miraculous Turning (Press 53, 2014), will lead the Master Class in Poetry, “Changing Stories.”

In his Tiffany Aching series, Terry Pratchett writes, “There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” In this workshop, we will consider the power of changing the stories we live among. This may be a matter of re-telling a story, turning it, or tearing it apart. We may consider fairytale retellings (such as Anne Sexton’s Transformations), changes in perspective (such as Gregory McGuire’s Wicked), or examples of ekphrasis (such as W.H. Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts” or Billy Collins’ “The Brooklyn Museum of Art” in which the narrator walks into a painting by Frederick Edwin Church). In doing so, the emphasis will be on practical exercises to generate material. In addition to looking at submitted poems, we will be taking advantage of the workshop’s two-part structure to generate material and then return to it.

Please submit three poems, along with your current CV or resume detailing your literary experience, no later than March 27. Poems should be saved in a single MS Word document, using single-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Rachel Richardson, a 2013-14 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and author of two poetry collections, including the forthcoming Hundred-Year Wave (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016), will lead the poetry workshop, “Excavating Artifacts: Poetry and Documentary Forms.”

How can a poem confront and engage history, politics, place, and myth? For poetry that seeks to explore the past, or witness the present, or speak out of a deeply-rooted landscape, it is easy to revert to comfortable modes of telling. How do we make these stories live, without slipping into nostalgia or polemic? To shake loose our stories and invigorate language and form, it can be helpful to borrow from the documentarian's tools. This workshop will explore ways of writing and revising using primary source documents, such as newspaper articles, family photographs, transcribed interviews, court cases, letters, keepsakes, and more. Participants should bring a couple of "documents" (to be interpreted as loosely as you like) that interest you to work with—anything that has a story to tell. We will spend workshop time discussing published “documentary poems” and their strategies, and doing generative writing exercises that will spark your own poems.

In the afternoon, conference-goers will have the rare opportunity to take a workshop from the presenter of this year’s Keynote Address. Jaki Shelton Green, a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, will address the general session at 11:00 am. After lunch, she’ll lead the poetry workshop, “Conversations in the Lines, or Eavesdropping on Yourself.”

What are the relationships you have with your poems that inspire or inhibit your voice from “telling” or showing up? Bring poems that you have strong relationships with. We will explore where these relationships, like kinships and friendships, intersect, collide, marry, divorce, confront, and unite in our poetics. How do these relationships limit or help to push the territory of language? How do these relationships inform, demand, dominate, or suppress? (Secrets, lies, fantasies . . .) There will also be a focus on selected poems that illustrate “what we talk about when we look at ourselves.”

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO, NC—Creative nonfiction aims to tell the truth. But historical accuracy alone isn’t enough to create a compelling narrative: the stories must be worth telling, and then told with an authentic, irresistible voice.

Nonfiction writers will have a chance to hone these vital elements of the craft at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference, held April 18 in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Eric G. Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest University and author of three works of creative nonfiction, will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Creating Presence.”

The Creative Nonfiction Master Class will meet twice during the conference: once during Workshop Session I (in the morning) and again for Workshop Session II (in the afternoon). The course description is as follows:

Without a strong voice, prose—no matter how stylistically felicitous—feels generic, institutional, and bloodless. Animated with an engaging persona, the same words spring into an essay: idiosyncratic, imaginative, vibrant. But while essential for powerful creative nonfiction, voice is notoriously difficult to define. Sure, we say it’s the personality of the writer, the unique presence, the controlling consciousness, the point of view, the constructed “I” behind the “eye,” and so on. These traditional definitions, however, are almost as vague as the term they are meant to clarify. In this workshop, we will do our best to understand voice conceptually and practically. We will discuss how important writers have understood voice as well as how it works in selected essays (including those submitted for this workshop). We will also complete exercises designed to strengthen your voice. You should come away from the sessions with strategies for creating a more captivating verbal presence.

Please submit up to 1,500 words from a single work, along with your current CV, no later than March 27. Submissions should be saved as an MS Word document, using double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

In addition, Marianne Gingher, author of Bobby Rex’s Greatest Hit, will lead a workshop titled “Stories Worth Telling.”

We know what they are. They keep happening to us. If we live long enough, our personal histories pile up the drama. How do we make sense of all the stories we’ve lived? Which of them demand to be told, and why? How do we make personal experience make sense to others in such a way that readers connect and identify? This is a workshop in the “personal” narrative or “writing from life.” Participants should bring a “time line” of their lives, documenting dates and a “headline” summary of the five or six most significant events/turning points of their lives. We will discuss techniques for making memoir writing come alive and include a brief in-class writing exercise with feedback. Two personal narratives that workshop participants might want to read before they attend the class are “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard and “The Lamb Roast” by Rosemary Hamilton. Both were published in the New Yorker and should be accessible online.

Writer and musician Tom Maxwell, formerly of the band The Squirrel Nut Zippers, will lead an afternoon workshop titled “Narrative Truth vs. Historical Truth.”

Memoir writing is, by needs, the art of navigating a strange terrain. How does one turn real people into characters? How does a messy, non-linear story get hammered into a narrative arc? What gives one the right, ultimately, to do this? Let’s discuss the manifold issues of objective truth, characterization, and emotional authenticity.

Registration for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference is now open.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

GREENSBORO—The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 18, in the MHRA Building and the Curry Auditorium on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is now open.

This year’s faculty includes a multi-platinum songwriter, a 2014 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, an NEA grant recipient, and several longtime, distinguished instructors of creative writing. By creating a friendly, safe, but focused learning environment, Spring Conference offers attendees not only the chance to improve one’s writing but to learn how to successfully create a writing life—and flourish.

“You come to these conferences to learn how to comport yourself,” says Keith Flynn, founder and managing editor of the Asheville Poetry Review. “To develop the professionalism and humility that will allow you to make the connections and relationships necessary to build a vibrant literary career.”

Jaki Shelton Green, of Mebane, will give the Keynote Address. Green was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2014, was the 2009 Piedmont Laureate, and in 2003 received the NC Award for Literature. Author of several poetry collections, she will also lead the poetry workshop “Conversations in the Lines.”

Joseph Mills, author of five poetry collections, will lead the Poetry Master Class, “Changing Stories.” Award-winning author Valerie Nieman, who teaches in the creative writing program at NC A&T State University, will lead the Fiction Master Class, “A Matter of Interpretation.” The Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Creating Presence,” will be taught by Eric G. Wilson, author of four books including the forthcoming Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life (FSG, 2015).

Additional offerings include a poetry workshop with Rachel Richardson; fiction workshops with New York Times bestselling author Charlie Lovett and Jacob Paul; creative nonfiction with Marianne Gingher and Tom Maxwell (formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers); writing for children with award-winning author Eleanora E. Tate; and two workshops focused on the publishing industry: “Don’t Forget the Small Stuff: Building Your Career” with Press 53 publisher Kevin Morgan Watson and “The Art of Branding for Authors” with Faun Finley.

The Network also will offer a brand-new program this year: “Slush Pile Live!”

Throughout the day, attendees are encouraged to drop off either 300 words of prose or one page of poetry at the registration table. The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript. At 5:00 pm, a panel of editors will listen as the submissions are read out loud, and raise their hand when they hear something that would make them stop reading if the piece were being submitted to their publication. The editors will discuss what they did and did not like about the sample, offering constructive feedback on the manuscript itself and the submission process. All anonymous—all live!

“If you’ve never worked or volunteered for a publisher or literary magazine before, the submission process can seem kind of mysterious,” says NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern. “‘Slush Pile Live!’ will give attendees a peak into what goes through an editor’s mind as they read their way through a stack of unsolicited submissions, with the added bonus of giving feedback to anonymously submitted manuscripts in a non-threatening way.”

In addition to new programming, familiar features will remain, including faculty readings, an open mic for conference participants, an exhibit hall packed with publishers and literary organizations, and “Lunch with an Author,” where conference-goers can spend less time waiting in line and more time talking with the author of their choice. Spaces in “Lunch with an Author” are limited and are first-come, first-served. Pre-registration and an additional fee are also required for this offering.

The NCWN 2015 Spring Conference is sponsored in part by 88.5 WFDD Public Radio and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program. Free parking for Spring Conference registrants will be available in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House).

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, and to register, visit www.ncwriters.org.

 

 
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