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GREENSBORO—What does it mean to be a “Writers’ Writer”?

Does it mean that someone is a writer who is appreciated by their peers, who works hard, who commands the craft in a nuanced way that other writers truly appreciate? Yes, sometimes it implies a lack of commercial success, but what writer is in it for the money and fame, really?

The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2019 Spring Conference, Saturday, April 27, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will celebrate the ethos and hard work of writers everywhere with a full day of workshops and sessions meant to inspire participants to hurry back to their own desks and get down to the hard work of putting words on a page.

Registration is open.

Michael McFee will give the Keynote Address.

McFee is the author or editor of sixteen books. His most recent collection of essays is Appointed Rounds(Mercer University Press, 2018); his latest volume of poems is We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017). A professor in the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill for decades, he received the 2018 North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor.

Susan Harlan will lead the Master Class in Creative Nonfiction, “Writing Personal Essays and Memoir.” Harlan teaches English literature at Wake Forest University. Her most recent book,Decorating a Room of One's Own: Conversations on Interior Design with Miss Havisham, Jane Eyre, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Bennet, Ishmael, and Other Literary Notables, which began as a column for The Toast, was published by Abrams in October 2018.

Around the corner, Jeff Jackson will lead the Master Class in Fiction, “Exploring and Exploding the Possibilities of Story Structure.” Jackson’s latest novel is Destroy All Monsters: The Last Rock Novel, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. It received rave reviews in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and NPR, as well as praise from Don DeLillo, Janet Fitch, Ben Marcus, and Dana Spiotta. His first novel Mira Corpora was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

The Poetry Master Class, “Investigative Poetics,” will be led by Amy Catanzano, who publishes across genres and is the author of three books in addition to significant essay projects and digital literary forms. Her recent book, Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella, received the Noemi Press Book Award. Multiversal, published by Fordham University Press, received the PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry and the Poets Out Loud Prize with Fordham University Press.

Attendees also have the option of taking classes a la carte.

Poets can sign up for “Metaphor and Memory in Poetry” with Ashley Lumpkin, author of three chapbooks and a competing member of the Bull City Slam Team since 2015; and “The Wonder of Falling” with Charlotte Matthews, whose most recent book Whistle What Can’t Be Said (Unicorn Press, 2016) chronicles part of her experience with stage-three breast cancer. Prose writers who like to invent can explore “Writing Speculative Fiction: World Building to Shape Story” with Krystal A. Smith, whose debut collection of speculative fiction, Two Moons: A Collection of Short Fiction, was released last year by BLF Press; and “The Art of Dialogue” with Kathryn Schwille, author of the novel What Luck, This Life, selected by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the best southern books of 2018.

Writers of prose who prefer to stick to the truth can enjoy Eddie Huffman’s “Real Characters: Capturing People in Nonfiction Prose.” Huffman is a veteran journalist and author of John Prine: In Spite of Himself and a forthcoming biography of Doc Watson for the University of North Carolina Press.

The NCWN 2019 Spring Conference also offers general sessions focused on the business and craft of writing.

North Carolina’s literary power couple, Ed Southern and Jamie Rogers Southern, will team up to teach “The Basics of the Book Business, Parts I & II.” Ed is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network and the author of four books, including the short story collection Parlous Angels. He received the 2015 Fortner Award from St. Andrews University for his service to the literary arts in North Carolina.

Jamie Rogers Southern has been working with Bookmarks, a literary arts nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem, since 2011, currently as Operations Director. She also has worked as Education Coordinator for the American Booksellers Association, and as manager of the Alabama Booksmith in her hometown of Birmingham. In 2018, she received the Winston-Salem Under 40 Leadership Award from the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

Joseph Mills, whose book This Miraculous Turningwas awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family, will lead the session “Stepping Back from Your Writing,” meant to help participants assess their works in progress. A faculty member at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities, and was honored in 2017 with a UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.

In addition, guaranteed to help attendees build the intestinal fortitude necessary to weather the furious storms of publishing, NCWN will host its fifth annual “Slush Pile Live!”

During this popular program, poetry and prose will be read aloud in two rooms in front of panels of editors and publishers, who will raise their hands as soon as they hear something in the pieces that would make them stop reading if they came across the submission in a slush pile. Many attendees have commented how much they learn in this hour of rapid-fire tidbits of wisdom and common sense.

Familiar features 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 conferencegoers 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. Preregistration and an additional fee are also required for this offering.

Spring Conference is sponsored in part by the North Carolina Arts Council and UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide free parking 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). 

Learn more and register at www.ncwriters.org.

 

 
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