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2017 SPRING CONFERENCE

Sponsored by 88.5 WFDD: Public Radio for the Piedmont
The News & Record in Greensboro
and The MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

MHRA Building (Corner of Spring Garden and Forest Streets)
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Saturday, April 22, 2017

 

The North Carolina Writers' Network and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at UNC Greensboro bring you a full day of workshops, conversations, and more. This year’s Spring Conference again will be in UNCG’s MHRA Building, on the corner of Spring Garden and Forest Streets, and in Curry Auditorium next door, offering classes and discussions on the craft and business of writing and publishing.

In addition, the “lunch” part of Lunch with an Author will be provided for those who register, so writers will be able to spend more time talking and less time waiting in line.

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

FEES AND DEADLINES | SCHEDULE-AT-A-GLANCE | MASTER CLASS | FULL CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WITH COURSES | FACULTY BIOGRAPHIES


Fees and Deadlines

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

Early registration ends Sunday, April 16. 

Early registration:

  • $99 for members
  • $150 for non-members

 

Lunch with an Author:

  • $15 for members
  • $25 for non-members

 

IMPORTANT: Spring Conference attendees MUST register for Lunch with an Author prior to the conference. Lunch with an Author registration will NOT be available on-site.

On-site registration as a walk-in:
  • $135 for members
  • $165 for non-members
  • Lunch with an Author and Master Classes not available to walk-in registrants

You can join the Network when you register, and pay the member rates plus the appropriate member dues:

$75 standard 1-year membership
$55 senior (65+), student, disabled membership
$130 2-year membership
$130 household 1-year membership

Scholarships

If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send a CV (or a resume detailing your literary experience) and a letter of interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Friday, April 7.

Cancellations

Cancellations must be made in writing and arrive at the Network office (via USPS or e-mail) by 5:00 pm, Thursday, April 13, for you to receive a refund, less 25 percent. Send request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. No refunds for cancellations received after April 13 or for no-shows.

For Writers with Special Needs

The North Carolina Writers' Network strives to make our programs and services accessible to all writers, including those with special needs. If you require conference materials either in large print or in Braille, or if you require a sign-language interpreter, please register for the conference and submit your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Monday, March 27. If you require any other special assistance, please let us know as soon as possible at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will do our best to accommodate all reasonable requests.

Deadlines

  • March 27: Deadline for special-needs requests
  • April 7: Deadline for all scholarship applications
  • April 7: Deadline for Master Class registration (see guidelines)
  • April 16: Deadline for early registration
  • April 22: Spring Conference in session; on-site registration available

Venue and Parking

The 2017 Spring Conference will be held in the Moore Humanities & Research Administration (MHRA) Building on the UNCG campus, 1111 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, NC, 27403, and in the Curry Auditorium next door.

Parking will be available for Spring Conference registrants in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck, across Forest Street from the MHRA Building (behind Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Old Town Draught House).

A map of the UNCG campus is available here.

UNCG’s Creative Writing Department and the Network will provide coffee and bottled water in the MHRA lobby Saturday morning. Vending machines can be found in the student lounge, and several dining options are a short walk from the conference venue. You are welcome (and encouraged) to bring your own snacks and drinks for the breaks between conference sessions.

Nearby Hotels

Please be aware that the High Point Furniture Market will begin the same weekend as the Spring Conference, and accommodations in and around Greensboro will be more expensive than usual, and very hard to find.

Your best bet to find accommodations in Greensboro is through the Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://www.visitgreensboronc.com.

E-Packets

In an effort to save money, time, and resources, the Network will send to all 2017 Spring Conference registrants, exhibitors, and faculty an E-Packet prior to April 22. The E-Packet will contain all the usual conference packet materials, in the form of a PDF that registrants can print or download to a device to bring with them to the conference.

Name tags, personalized schedules, and copies of the Schedule-at-a-Glance will still be available at the registration table the day of the conference.

If you prefer to receive a traditional printed packet at the conference, please indicate this preference in the space provided on your registration form and pick up your packet at the registration table.

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Schedule-at-a-Glance

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

Saturday, April 22
8:00-9:00am Registration Open (MHRA Lobby)
8:30 am - 5:00 pm Exhibit Tables and Book Sales Open (MHRA Lobby)
9:00 am - 10:00 am Keynote Address by Fred Chappell (Curry Auditorium)
10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Session I

12:00-1:15 pm Lunch with an Author (if pre-registered; lunch on your own if not)
1:15-2:15 pm Faculty Readings (MHRA 1214 and 1215)
2:30-4:00 pm

Session II

4:00-5:00pm

Open Mic Readings - Sign up at registration table (MHRA 1214 and 1215)

5:00-6:00pm

Slush Pile Live! (MHRA 1214 and 1215)

 

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Master Class

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

Master Classes offer advanced writers a chance to delve more deeply into a particular genre. Each Master Class will take place over the course of Sessions I and II, and will be limited to the first 12 qualified registrants.

While publication credits are not required, Master Class participants should be experienced writers, dedicated to their craft. Applications will be reviewed, and qualified registrants admitted, on a rolling basis, until the deadline of Friday, April 7.

Please submit your current CV, along with the required manuscript (see each Master Class’ course description, below, for its manuscript requirements), to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., on the same day you register for the Spring Conference. You cannot be considered for a Master Class until we receive your CV and required manuscript. Again, the deadline to apply for a Master Class is Friday, April 7.

When you register for the Spring Conference, if applying for a Master Class, please choose another workshop as a back-up for each session, in case you are not admitted to the Master Class. Application to a Master Class requires a non-refundable $20 processing fee, in addition to the Spring Conference registration fee. If registering for the conference online or by phone, you can pay this processing fee with a VISA, MasterCard, or Discover. If registering by mail, you must include a separate check for $20.

 

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Full Conference Schedule with Course Descriptions

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

8:00–9:00 am Registration Open (MHRA Lobby)

8:30 am – 5:00 pm Exhibits and Book Sales Open (MHRA Lobby)

9:00 am–10:00 am Keynote Address by Fred Chappell

10:30 am – 12:00 pm Session I

Poetry Master Class: A Poem that Sings with Julie Funderburk
Poems often tell or suggest stories. Yet, as poet Ellen Bryant Voigt writes in her book of essays The Flexible Lyric, poetry’s “first allegiance must be to music.” We will begin by exploring a series of model poems to discover how they present stories without being burdened by too much narrative weight, so that the poems still sing. Then, when we explore work from the class together, we will focus on the ways that these strategies and structures can provide inspiration for revision.

Please submit three poems, along with your current CV, on the same day that you register for the Spring Conference. At least one of the three poems should be narrative. 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.. Your name and the title of each poem should appear on the submission. Accepted registrants will also be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Fiction Master Class: Acting Out on the Page with David Payne **Closed**
In this fiction workshop, we’ll begin with a discussion of the writer’s need for psychological self-awareness; or, alternatively, the dangers of “acting out” on the page, using A River Runs Through It as our text. (Everyone should read A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean.) In the afternoon session, we’ll workshop participants’ submissions.

Please submit up to 1,500 sequential words from a single work, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. Submissions should be saved in a single 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.. The title of the work and your name should appear on the submission. The sample you submit will be the work discussed in class, and accepted registrants will be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Nonfiction Master Class: The Art of Structuring Personal Nonfiction with Lee Zacharias
Why write about yourself? The morning session of this nonfiction workshop will begin by addressing the significance of personal writing, both in essay and memoir, for the writer and for the reader. That is, we will discuss personal writing not as autobiography but as art. We will learn to read like writers—to read beyond content for structure—and talk about strategies for structuring personal nonfiction. Because no one's story ends without involving others, we will end the morning by considering issues of privacy and legality that are unique to nonfiction, as well as copyright law. Students are welcome to bring questions about privacy and legality that they are facing or think they may face in their own work. In the afternoon session we will turn our attention to discussing the manuscripts you have submitted in advance of the class.

Please submit up to 1,500 sequential words from a single work, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. Submissions should be saved in a single 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.. The title of the work and your name should appear on the submission. The sample you submit will be the work discussed in class, and accepted registrants will be asked to circulate their drafts to others in the class prior to the conference.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.

Poetic Architects: Building Poems Editors Publish with Crystal Simone Smith
Like a well-architected building, a well-crafted poem is structured so that every word, line, and stanza appears native and fluid. The truth is a good architect painstakingly plans every inch of space, and beyond the structural integrity, the architect must polish his work, touching it up with paint and fancy fixtures. This is the work of the poet too. Words and thoughts are merely materials, and only the beginning. In this workshop, we will discuss traditional and non-traditional ways of constructing successful poems that editors want to publish. In addition, we’ll look at examples of imagery, figurative language, sound, and line breaks that “wow” editors. Come hungry for improvement. All levels are welcome.

Flash Fiction: Sometimes Less Is More with Steve Cushman
In this workshop, we’ll explore the exciting genre of Flash Fiction. We’ll define what makes a piece of writing flash and how this is similar, yet different, from other forms of fiction. We’ll look at how you can pack a satisfying story in less than 1,000 words, paying close attention to language and plot and character. We’ll read some contemporary Flash Fiction and get started writing our own flash stories with the help of prompts and exercises. You’ll leave the workshop with a variety of resources for you to continue your study of Flash Fiction, including a list of journals and magazines that publish flash.

Asking the Five Hard Questions: An Approach to Revising Memoir with Melissa Delbridge
Writing and revising memoir challenges us to examine and present our own histories in constantly changing light. In this class, we will discuss five questions authors can ask to deepen, to hone, and to find the story’s universal core. For each of these questions, I will present examples in the work of contemporary prominent, successful, and compelling memoirists. Participants will receive a list of recommended readings after the class.

Social Media for Self-Published Authors with Russell Hatler and Nikki Brate
Self-published authors in general have a tough time promoting their books. There are literally hundreds of options available on the Internet, all for a price. Choosing among the options can be a daunting experience. Once an option has been selected, working with the people who’ve promised to deliver fame and fortune can be treacherous. This workshop showcases the experiences of a self-published author when trying to wade through the technological mire that lurks in the arena of Social Media. It also addresses the joys and sorrows of building a website and shooting and posting a YouTube video.

12:00–1:30 pm Lunch with an Author (if pre-registered; lunch on your own if not)
Sign up to have lunch with a small group of fellow registrants and one of our conference instructors. This is a great opportunity to talk shop with an experienced writer in a relaxed, informal setting.
Pre-registration is required to participate in Lunch with an Author; you will not be able to sign up on-site.

1:30–2:30 pm Faculty Readings (Curry Auditorium)

2:30–4:00 pm Session II

Poetry Master Class: A Poem that Sings with Julie Funderburk
Continued; see above for description.

Fiction Master Class: Acting Out on the Page with David Payne**Closed**
Continued; see above for description.

Nonfiction Master Class: The Art of Structuring Personal Nonfiction with Lee Zacharias
Continued; see above for description.

“What Happens in Vegas”: Documenting Life through Poetry with Barbara Presnell
In its strictest definition, documentary poetry begins with current events or research and provides an authentic poetic narrative for the facts of our lives. Imagine such verses sitting in the margins of our history books, telling the ordinary stories of people in extraordinary times. In this workshop, we will approach all poetry as documentary, for regardless of its subject or form, what we put down on the page captures and records who we are and how we live. If you are remembering a backyard basketball game with your dad, if you are recreating in words the taste and smell of your morning coffee, if you are describing your first chemotherapy, if you are pondering a rainy walk through pristine woods—you are writing documentary poetry. We’ll look at classic and contemporary examples and how they work, and we’ll examine those small nuances that can make a poem—whether historical or contemporary—as real as the moment it happened.

The Mystery of Plot in Fiction with James Tate Hill
Flannery O’Connor believed that every plot needs mystery, but to many fiction writers nothing is more mysterious than plot. Whatever subgenre one is writing, plot is a vital element of fiction. How does plot work? How complicated must a plot be? This course will attempt to demystify this often intimidating aspect of the fiction writing process. Through discussions of different narratives, we will examine a variety of plot structures, eventually turning to your own work in progress to decide what kind of structure might be the best fit for it.

Exercising the Imagination (Children’s Writing) with John Claude Bemis
Join award-winning children's book author John Claude Bemis as he shares practical, hands-on activities that will have you approaching your creative process in new and productive ways. Through exercises that involve magnetic nouns, lateral thinking, constructive ambiguity, and other imaginative sparks, writers of all genres will discover wildly original ways of to stretch their thinking. John’s activities are not only fun ways to come up with story ideas, but are also useful for tackling writer’s block and getting through those dreaded middle-of-the-story slumps. Discover new tips and tools that will put your imagination in overdrive.

Attendees will use magnetic nouns (i.e. lists of interesting topics) to discover how his/her unique collection of personal interests allow the writer to create stories nobody else would, as well as ambiguous sources (e.g. randomly selected words or images) to generate various solutions to perplexing problems about his/her own story, and lateral thinking to combine unrelated ideas in new and surprising ways in order to bring original ideas to his/her story.

Big, Medium, Small, or Self: What’s the Right Publishing Option for You? with Edmund R. Schubert
Having their work published by one of the big houses in New York used to be every writer’s dream; but more and more authors today—even those who’ve successfully published with New York before—are opting instead to self-publish. And in the space between New York and self-publishing, there’s a vast spectrum of small, mid-sized, and regional publishers. Exactly what role do each of these publishers play in today’s new and ever-evolving ecosystem of books, contracts, and money?

4:00–5:00 pm Open Mic (MHRA 1214 and 1215)
Sign up at the conference registration table if you would like to share your work. Only twenty-four reading slots, of five minutes each, will be available, first-come, first-served.

5:00–6:00 pm Slush Pile Live!
The third annual Slush Pile Live! will offer both poetry and prose in two rooms so that more attendees have a chance to receive feedback on their writing. Have you ever wondered what goes through an editor's mind as he or she reads through a stack of unsolicited submissions? Here's your chance to find out.

Beginning at 4:00 pm, attendees may drop off either 300 words of prose or one page of poetry in the room of their choice (prose and poetry will be read in both MHRA rooms 1214 and 1215). The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript.

Then, at 5:00 pm, a panel of editors will listen to the submissions being 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! (Authors can reveal themselves at the end, but only if they want to.)

Those interested in having their anonymous submission read should bring a hard copy of up to 300 words of prose from a single work or one page of poetry (40-line max) to one of the Slush Pile Live! rooms. Submissions should be double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font. No names should appear on the submissions.

 

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Faculty Biographies

Register Online | Download Registration Form**Pre-registration is now closed. On-site registration opens Saturday, April 22.**

 

Spring Conference Faculty


Author, musician, and educator John Claude Bemis was chosen as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature and received UNC Chapel Hill’s Excellence in Teaching Award for his work as an author-educator. He's the author of six books, including The Nine Pound Hammer (Random House), and his latest novel, The Wooden Prince (Disney-Hyperion), the first in his Out of Abaton series. He lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough. Visit him online at www.johnclaudebemis.com.


Nikki Brate is president of Nikki Brate Graphic Design. She has worked with Russ Hatler on a number of projects, including YouTube video productions that are currently being used to promote The Sisterhood Diaries. She is currently involved in the design and implementation of a website for SLI Enterprises.

North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Fred Chappell is the author of a dozen books of verse, two story collections, and nine novels. A native of Canton in the mountains of Western North Carolina, he taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for over forty years, and was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997-2002. He is the winner of, among other awards, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Aiken Taylor Prize, the Prix de Meilleur des Livres Etrangers, the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Prize seven times over. He has also won two World Fantasy Awards, and his 1968 novel Dagon was named the Best Foreign Book of the Year by the Académie Française. His latest novel, A Shadow All of Light, is an episodic fantasy novel published by Tor Books.

Steve Cushman
earned an MFA from UNC-Greensboro. He’s published two novels, Portisville and Heart With Joy, as well as the short-story collection, Fracture City. He also has published two poetry chapbooks, Hospital Work and Midnight Stroll. A new novel, Hopscotch, is due out in May, 2017. Cushman currently works at Cone Health in Greensboro where he directs the Poetry & Medicine program and also teaches part-time at Guilford College.

Melissa Delbridge’s writing and interviews have appeared in Antioch Review, Third Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Poets & Writers, and many other publications. Her memoir Family Bible (University of Iowa Press, 2008) evolved from essays written during her fellowship at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies and focuses on lessons she learned about sexuality, race, and forgiveness while growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her fiction and nonfiction have won the GLCA Nonfiction Award, the Theodore Christian Hoepfner Essay Award, and a fiction award from the Southern Women Writers Conference. She lives, teaches, and writes in Chatham County.

Julie Funderburk is the author of The Door that Always Opens, her first full-length collection of poetry from LSU Press (2016). She is a recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers' conferences. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including 32 Poems, Best New Poets, The Cincinnati Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Ploughshares. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Queens University in Charlotte, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Russell Hatler spent forty-five delightful years playing the role of computer whisperer, subduing those unwieldy iron monsters with craftily-coded programs. Now semi-retired, he has redirected his creative efforts toward appeasing the high-maintenance muse of his college major, English. He has toiled diligently at the art of creating literary mystery. Most recently his efforts have been focused on writing novels for adults. He has discovered that researching an adult novel is infinitely more interesting than writing computer programs.


James Tate Hill is the author of Academy Gothic, winner of the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Literary Hub, StoryQuarterly, Barrelhouse, and The Laurel Review, among others. A graduate of the writing programs of the University of North Carolina Greensboro and Hollins University, he serves as Fiction Editor for the literary journal Monkeybicycle. Find out more at www.jamestatehill.com or follow him on Twitter @jamestatehill.


Of David Payne’s novel, Ruin Creek, the reviewer for The Dallas Morning News wrote: “I begin with what may seem a bold observation: David Payne is the most gifted American novelist of his generation. Ruin Creek is the best new novel I’ve read this year . . .” Payne is The New York Times Notable author of five novels and a 2015 memoir, Barefoot to Avalon, A Brother’s Story. Payne has published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Libération, and elsewhere. He teaches in the MFA Program at Queens University of Charlotte and gives private workshops in Hillsborough: www.davidpaynebooks.com.

Barbara Presnell’s poetry collection, Piece Work, which documents the textile industry in North Carolina, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Prize and was published by CSU in 2007. Her newest collection, titled Blue Star (Press 53, 2016), traces her family’s involvement in war from the Civil War to the present through military records, census reports, letters, journals, and photographs. Other poems have appeared in War, Literature, and the Arts; Appalachian Journal; Southern Review; Chariton Review; and other journals and anthologies.

Edmund R. Schubert is the author of the novel, Dreaming Creek, and over fifty short stories. Some of his early stories are collected in The Trouble with Eating Clouds; newer ones can be found in This Giant Leap. Schubert also contributed to and edited the nonfiction book How to Write Magical Words. In addition to writing, Schubert served for ten years as head editor of the online, bi-monthly magazine InterGalactic Medicine Show (including publishing three IGMS anthologies and winning two WSFA Small Press Awards), resigning from the post in 2016 to make writing his primary focus.

Crystal Simone Smith is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Routes Home (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Running Music (Longleaf Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Callaloo, Nimrod, Barrow Street, Obsidian II: Literature in the African Diaspora, African American Review, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She is an alumna of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and the Yale Summer Writers Conference. She’s an adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Elon University and Greensboro College and the managing editor of Backbone Press.

Lee Zacharias is the author of a collection of short stories, Helping Muriel Make It Through the Night, two novels, Lessons and At Random, and a collection of personal essays, The Only Sounds We Make. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina's Sir Walter Raleigh Award, Southern Humanities Review's Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award, Prairie Schooner's Glenna Luschei Award, and a Silver Medal in Creative Nonfiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. At Random was a finalist in literary fiction for the 2013 International Book Awards, the National Indie Lit Awards, and the USA Best Book Awards. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including, among others, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Our State. Ten times her essays have been named Notable Essays of the Year by The Best American Essays, which reprinted "Buzzards" in The Best American Essays 2008. For thirty-three years she taught literature and creative writing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and is currently on the faculty of the Wildacres Writer Conference.

 


 

The 2017 Spring Conference is made possible with support from The MFA in Creative Writing Department at UNC-Greensboro, 88.5 WFDD Public Radio, The News & Record in Greensboro, and the North Carolina Arts Council.


UNC Greensboro

           

 

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