Monday, April 8, 2013

Kachemak Bay Writers Conference: Lynn Lovegreen interviews Carol Swartz

The Conference has become an important feature of the state’s writing community. How and when did it start? It began in 2002 after the Kachemak Bay Campus had been holding a Visiting Writers Series for several years. There was great interest in expanding it to become a statewide conference. The Campus was then the benefactor of a tremendous estate gift by a an extraordinary woman, Caroline Musgrove Coons. Her gift provided the seed funds to start it and sustain it along with the many annual philanthropic contributions from corporations, the University, businesses and individual donors.

Kachemak Bay Campus has always hosted the conference. What is the benefit for the college? Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College-UAA has multiple roles, including the enhancement of life-long educational interests and the creative enrichment of Alaskans through the arts and humanities. It is our honor to each year organize and facilitate such an opportunity for Alaskans.

What is unique about this conference? The diversity of attendees and presenters; not just writers attend. Its location. The tremendous sense of community. The variety, quality and depth of ideas and creative experiences. In the writing conference world, there are many conferences that foster a stratified environment - some participants having greater access to the faculty than others. The Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference strives for just the opposite, a completely non-hierarchical experience. Each year, participants report that they have enjoyed the fact that writing enthusiasts, as well as writers of all abilities and publishing experience, mingle freely, sharing information. People have shared that they have enjoyed “the wonderful willingness to share what writers know, camaraderie, the connections with both faculty and participants, the caliber of faculty, beautiful setting, enthusiastic conference attendees and organizers”.

What are you excited about in this year’s lineup? I am excited to see how Naomi Shihab Nye infuses the conference with her experience in all three genres - poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. I'm also excited about the depth of interesting experience of our entire faculty. This is a very multi-faceted group, bringing experience from every part of the country and a really eclectic set of workshop and panel topics. The post-conference session is especially compelling this year.

Are there plans for changes or additions in the future? This year we have added two exciting new elements; a special edition Broadside will be available and a silent auction of “literary”- related, fun items contributed by participants and supporters will be held our last evening’s readings.

Where can writers go to sign up and learn more?

Anything else you’d like to mention? The Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference is a wonderful way for writers to gain new skills and insights, but also it's a chance to network with other Alaskan writers and meet new friends with a shared passion for the literary arts and the critical role literature serves in our world. The writing community in Alaska can be very spread out, and for those living in smaller communities, this is a way to forge connections that can sustain your writing practice outside the conference. 

Lynn Lovegreen writes Sweet Alaska Historicals, novels set in the Gold Rush era.

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