Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sean Hill: The Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference

 The Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference[1] at Bemidji State University is back again for its second year after a four-year hiatus. On the BSU campus on the shores of Lake Bemidji where you’re likely to be awakened by the haunting call of a loon or inspired by the grace of a bald eagle, conference attendees are sure to be inspired by our great faculty.

The conference will be held from June 22 to June 28. This week-long writers’ conference offers participants intimate writing workshops and an evening reading series[2]. Established in 2003, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference provides a high quality literary experience for the local and state communities and attracts participants from around the nation. The conference has always brought in well-published writers who are also excellent teachers to lead the intensive workshops, which are limited to 13 participants in order to create intimate learning communities for the writers.

New, this year, each faculty member will offer a morning craft talk. And we are offering an auditor’s track that includes access to the daily craft talks, afternoon events, evening readings, and the conference meals. This option is for writers at any stage of development who work hard at their writing and want to better understand the creative act. Auditors will be exposed to and benefit from the knowledge and experience our teaching artists share in their morning craft talks and be moved by their work at the evening readings. At $125 plus $25 per night for convenient newly-remodeled campus housing, the auditor’s track provides an incredibly affordable writer’s retreat.

Following in our tradition of literary excellence, our Distingushed Visiting Writer is award-winning short story writer, novelist, essayist, and teacher Pam Houston. Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Awards, The 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of numerous awards including the Western States Book Award and multiple teaching awards.

And our teaching-writers are equally impressive. The poet and editor, Camille Dungy will return this summer to lead one of our two poetry workshops. Dungy is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Smith Blue, and she counts among her many awards a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Our other poetry workshop will be led by the poet, Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Aimee is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Lucky Fish, winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books. Her recent honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart Prize.

We’re also offering a “novice” multi-genre workshop for writers of all levels who feel that they want to try their hand at a new genre. This workshop will be led be the award-winning novelist and current Georgia Poet Laureate, Judson Mitcham, author of most recently of A Little Salvation: Poems Old and New, published by the University of Georgia Press, and the only two-time winner of the Townsend Prize in Fiction. Sheri Joseph, the author three books of fiction, most recently the novel Where You Can Find Me and winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, will lead the fiction workshop. The creative nonfiction workshop will be led by Rebecca Brown, author a dozen books published in the US and abroad, and winner of a Stranger Genius Award, Boston Book Review Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers ‘Award, Lambda Literary Award and (twice) the Washington State Book Award.

For workshop descriptions, a schedule, online application, and more information please visit www.northwoodswriters.org. The deadline for applying for the conference is May 1; if you register by April 15, you can get the early-bird rate. 

It's the season to think about writers conferences. We're happy to share posts about any with an Alaska connection. Check our guidelines and email your post to debvanasse (at) gmail.com.

[1] Sponsored by the English Department at Bemidji State University in collaboration with BSU’s Center for Extended Learning and a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council and generous donors.

[2]The readings are free and open to the public.

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