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CAAWC, NCWN Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries at 2020 Spring Conference

Lenard D. Moore
GREENSBORO—Fellowship. Learning. Support.

These principles are at the heart of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, and they happen to be central tenets of the North Carolina Writers’ Network as well.

NCWN, which turns thirty-five this year, will host its 2020 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 18, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Registration is open.

The Keynote Celebration will feature four CAAWC writers—founder Lenard D. Moore; Dr. L. Teresa Church; Bridgette A. Lacy; and Crystal Simone Smith—as they chronicle the history of the organization and read passages from All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers Collective (Blair, 2020).

Founded in 1985, the North Carolina Writers’ Network will celebrate its 35th anniversary throughout the year.

The Poetry Master Class, “Now Look at What You Have Done,” will be led by Stuart Dischell, author of Good Hope Road (Viking), a National Poetry Series Selection, and four other poetry collections. He is a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at UNC-Greensboro.

Other poetic options include “More than Meaning” with Timothy O’Keefe, whose collection You Are the Phenomenology won the 2017 Jupiter Prize for Poetry, and “Crowded House: Imagery in Poetry” with Jennie Malboeuf, author of the forthcoming collection God had a body.

Xhenet Aliu
Xhenet Aliu will lead the Master Class in Fiction, “Messing Up Good.” Aliu’s novel Brass won the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year First Novel Prize; was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection; and was named a best book of the year by several national media outlets.

For fiction writers wanting more variety, Quinn Dalton will lead “Make a Scene.” Dalton is the author of four books, including Midnight Bowling and Bulletproof Girl.

Randal O’Wain will lead the Creative Nonfiction Master Class, “Our Memories and Our Words: The Art of Writing Memoir.” O’Wain, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow at Alderson Federal Correction Institute in West Virginia, is the author of Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South (Nebraska, 2019).

Writers who prefer truth to fiction also may choose “Narrative Medicine” with Aimee Mepham, co-chair of the Story, Health, & Healing initiative at Wake Forest University; and “Writing Your Life: Turning Personal Stories into Universal Narratives” with Bridgette A. Lacy, a longtime features writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh and author of Sunday Dinner (UNC Press), a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize.

No conference would be complete without options for those ready to take their book to market, including “Public Speaking for Writers” with Cameron Kent and “From Manuscript to Finished Book” with Blair editors Robin Miura and Lynn York.

Kent is a member of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and won an Emmy for his reporting on the Pentagon after 9/11. Blair is a Durham-based press that publishes diverse fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about the American South and beyond.

Stuart Dischell
There’s even a class for those who write across genres: learn the value of foresight with “Planning Your Creativity: Hybrid Outlines for 21st Century Writing” with the NCWN Regional Rep for Durham County and speculative fiction author Jorge Cortese.

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

During this favorite 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 UNCG’s Creative Writing Program, which will provide coffee for conference-goers during registration and check-in. Other sponsors include the North Carolina Arts Council.

Learn more and register at