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2019 SPRING CONFERENCE

MHRA Building (Corner of Spring Garden and Forest Streets)
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Saturday, April 27

                                 UNC Greensboro 

The North Carolina Writers' Network and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at UNC-Greensboro bring you a full day of classes, 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

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


Fees and Deadlines

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Early registration ends Sunday, April 21. 

Early registration:

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

 

Lunch with an Author:

  • $20 for members
  • $30 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:

$80 standard 1-year membership
$60 reduced membership (senior 65+, full-time student, writers under 30, writers with disabilities)
$140 2-year membership
$110 2-year reduced membership

Scholarships

A limited amount of scholarship aid is available to deserving writers who otherwise could not attend the 2019 Spring Conference. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send a C.V. 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 5.

In addition to our general scholarship aid, More Seats Scholarships are available to attend the Spring Conference thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. More Seats Scholarships seek to add “more seats” to the literary table by encouraging beginning writers from underserved communities, especially writers from rural counties, writers of color, and LGBTQ+ writers. Selection criteria will focus on commitment to writing, rather than degrees or publications.

To apply, send a current CV—with contact information and a list of any work, education, publications, or other relevant literary experiences or achievements—and a Statement of Writing Intent of no more than 1,000 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., no later than Friday, April 5. The subject line should specify the applicant’s interest in a More Seats Scholarship. Questions should be sent to that e-mail address, as well.

Cancellations

Cancellations must be made in writing and arrive at the Network office (via USPS or e-mail) by 4:00 pm, Friday, April 19, 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 19 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, April 8. 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

  • April 5: Deadline for all scholarship applications
  • April 8: Deadline for special-needs requests
  • April 12: Deadline for Master Class registration (see guidelines)
  • April 21: Deadline for early registration
  • April 27: Spring Conference in session; on-site registration available

Venue and Parking

The 2019 Spring Conference will be held in the Moore Humanities & Research Administration (MHRA) Building on the UNCG campus, 1111 Spring Garden St., Greensboro, NC, 27403, and in the Curry Auditorium next door. The MHRA Building is located at the corner of Spring Garden and Forest Streets.

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

The Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau can help you find accommodations in the area. Please visit http://www.visitgreensboronc.com.

E-Packets

In an effort to save money, time, and resources, the Network will send to all 2019 Spring Conference registrants, exhibitors, and faculty an E-Packet prior to April 27. 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

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Saturday, April 27
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 Michael McFee (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

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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 10 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 12.

Please submit your current CV, along with the required manuscript (see each Master Class’s 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 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 12.

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

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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 Michael McFee

10:30 am – 12:00 pm Session I

Creative Nonfiction Master Class: Writing Personal Essays and Memoir with Susan Harlan
What are personal essays and memoir, and why do we write them? This workshop invites participants to reflect on what you hope to achieve with your writing and how to accomplish your goals. Whether you’re writing a memoir, travel essays, object essays, or portraits of people or places, my goal is to help you build confidence in your own voice. We will ask: What is your writing about, and how can you communicate this to your readers? We’ll talk about what Vivian Gornick calls “the situation and the story,” and we’ll discuss structure and organization (especially beginnings and endings), concrete detail (and omission!), pacing, dialogue, vivid images, and point of view. We’ll think about how everyday writing exercises can serve as starting points for longer projects. And we’ll look at nonfiction works published online and in print.

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.

Fiction Master Class: Exploring and Exploding the Possibilities of Story Structure with Jeff Jackson
As writers we aim to tell unique stories, but sometimes we structure them in overly familiar ways that blunt their impact. In this class, we will discuss how to find the right form for our work, examining dynamic novels and short stories from various traditions. We’ll also look to more far-flung sources for inspiration, including photography, music, and film. Finally, we’ll focus on how different structures might be practically applied to our current projects and writing practices. The afternoon session of the class will be devoted to workshopping 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.

Poetry Master Class: Investigative Poetics with Amy Catanzano
This Master Class will focus on what is known as “investigative poetics,” where writers innovatively and adventurously probe, explore, and research subjects of study that can bring their writing—and lived experiences—to new depths and rewards. Investigation begins with curiosity, ambition, and possibility. It is sustained by exploration, skill, and resources. We start with the notion that the artistic practice of poetry, when vital and inventive, happens within an “expanded field” situated beyond the homogenous, the ordinary, the obvious, and the habituated. As “field poets” (like “field journalists” who go into the field to do their reporting), we work with and alongside language to interface with this expanded field in the service of our writing and research. We will discuss effective strategies that will maximize our creative research efforts, develop personalized plans for conducting field work, and practice writing techniques that are designed to initiate and support our work. The curriculum will be suited to those who already have a subject of investigation in mind as well as to those interested in beginning a new project.

Please submit three poems, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. 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.

Real Characters: Capturing People in Nonfiction Prose with Eddie Huffman
People are messy and multilayered. This class will explore ways to cut through the clutter and hit the highlights that bring a subject to life in a memoir, essay, or profile.

Metaphor and Memory in Poetry (fiction) with Ashley Lumpkin
This course will explore personal narrative poetry and the techniques necessary to make an individual experience accessible to a universal audience. In particular, we will discuss crafting an extended metaphor as the framework of a personal narrative.

Writing Speculative Fiction: World Building to Shape Story with Krystal A. Smith
World building plays a major role in a speculative fiction story’s believability. Environment often motivates a character’s actions and attitudes. In this workshop writers will practice world building techniques and create context for characters’ actions, thoughts, needs, and desires.

The Basics of the Book Business, Part I with Ed Southern
Creative writing is usually solitary, personal, idiosyncratic, and emotional. Writers who want to publish their writing, though, must understand that they are entering the business world: in the case of the book business, a world with visible roots in the Renaissance, with jargon, quirks, and practices unlike any other industry.

The Basics of the Book Business will be less a how-to manual than a glossary or compendium of useful information for writers who hope to enter the book business, with answers to questions you may not even know to ask. Part I will cover what would-be authors likely will encounter before publication: submitting, contracting, editing, and pre-publication marketing. What counts as “published”? Why is there no such thing as an “unpublished book” or “ISBN number”? Do you need to file for a copyright before submitting your work to a publisher? (Spoiler Alert: No, but come to the class to learn why.)

Please note that you do not have to take both parts of The Basics of the Book Business to register for one of them.

12:00–1:15 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. A selection of boxed lunches and beverages will be provided to those who pre-register. Pre-registration by Sunday, April 21, is required to participate in Lunch with an Author; you will not be able to sign up on-site.

Choose from the following authors:

  • Amy Catanzano
  • Susan Harlan
  • Eddie Huffman
  • Jeff Jackson
  • Ashley Lumpkin
  • Charlotte Matthews
  • Michael McFee
  • Joseph Mills
  • Kathryn Schwille
  • Krystal A. Smith

1:15–2:15 pm Faculty Readings (MHRA 1214 and 1215)

2:30–4:00 pm Session II

Creative Nonfiction Master Class with Susan Harlan
Continued; see above for description.

Fiction Master Class with Jeff Jackson
Continued; see above for description.

Poetry Master Class with Amy Catanzano
Continued; see above for description.

The Wonder of Falling (poetry) with Charlotte Matthews
For poets, the act of writing embodies the act of falling by engendering a wider, albeit riskier, realm. How can we foster and celebrate the process? How can we preserve our spot in this riskier realm and still live, still engage, in the “real” world? This class will explore the notion of falling, of unmasking the placid exterior of our human selves to reveal a riotous core. It will include a guided look at several poems as well as a writing exercise, which will be shaped into a collaborative poem. Participants will experience first-hand the risker, fallen realm.

Stepping Back from Your Writing (all genre) with Joseph Mills
In James Thurber’s “Many Moons,” a jeweler steps back from a creation and asks, “What is this thing I’ve made?” This is what we all need to do as we revise, but it can be difficult to get the necessary distance. In this workshop, we’ll discuss ways to “defamiliarize yourself” with your writing so that you can see it more clearly, and we’ll consider several quick “down and dirty diagnostics” exercises that help a writer assess a piece of work in process. Participants should bring a draft in progress and plan to revise.

The Art of Dialogue with Kathryn Schwille
Talk is easy. Dialogue? That’s something else. Let’s talk about what makes good dialogue – how to use it and when, what it can do and what it can’t. How can speech reveal character? How can it be planted in a garden that enriches it? We’ll start with a short exercise, then look at the work of master story-tellers. In the meantime, eavesdrop on your fellow humans and listen for the unsaid.

The Basics of the Book Business, Part II with Jamie Rogers Southern
The Basics of the Book Business, Part II, will cover what brand-new authors likely will encounter once their book is published, especially working with bookstores and booksellers to help their writing find readers. What should an author expect at a book signing? Who are these Ingram, Baker, and Taylor people that booksellers keep talking about? What are “returns” and why should authors learn to live with them?

Please note that you do not have to take both parts of The Basics of the Book Business to register for one of them.

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 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

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Spring Conference Faculty


Amy Catanzano’s current work as a writer explores the groundbreaking intersections of literature, science, and art and draws from creative, investigative research she conducts at major scientific research centers and beyond. She 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. A recent chapbook, World Lines: A Quantum Supercomputer Poem, was featured in Physics magazine and The Next Web. She is an associate professor of English in creative writing and the poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University. She taught for many years in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Colorado, a program focused on experimental and contemplative approaches to writing. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


Susan Harlan’s essays have appeared in venues including The Guardian US, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Roads & Kingdoms, The Common, The Brooklyn Quarterly, The Morning News, Curbed, Atlas Obscura, Public Books, and Nowhere, and her book Luggage was published in the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018. She also writes satire for McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Awl, The Billfold, Avidly, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Hairpin, The Belladonna, Janice, and The Establishment, and she was a finalist judge for the Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest this year, with Michael Ian Black, Hank Herman, and Julie Schumacher. Her humor 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. She teaches English literature at Wake Forest University.


Eddie 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. He has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and many other publications. He lives in Greensboro.


Jeff 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. His short fiction has appeared in Vice, Guernica, and The Common. Six of his plays have been produced in New York City by the Obie Award-winning Collapsable Giraffe theater company.


Ashley Lumpkin is a Georgia-raised, Carolina-based writer, editor, and educator. She is the author of three chapbooks, {} At First Sight, Second Glance, and Terrorism and Other Topics for Tea, and one full-length collection, #AshleyLumpkin. A lover of performance as well as the written word, she has been a competing member of the Bull City Slam Team since 2015. She co-curates the series "First Draft," a reading of new works and works in progress, sponsored by Greensboro Bound. She is one-fifth (and only Slytherin member) of the Big Dreams Collective. Above all else, Ashley considers herself a teacher, poet, and fryer of food. She is a lover of mathematics and language. She loves you too.


Charlotte Matthews’ most recent book Whistle What Can’t Be Said (Unicorn Press, 2016) chronicles part of her experience with stage three breast cancer. In addition, she is author of Still Enough to Be Dreaming (Iris Press, 2007) and Green Stars (Iris Press, 2005) . Her honors include fellowships from The Chautauqua Institute and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She is Associate Professor at The University of Virginia.


Michael 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.

A faculty member at the University of 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. He has published six collections of poetry with Press 53, most recently Exit, pursued by a bear, which consists of poems triggered by stage directions in Shakespeare. His book This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family. In the spring of 2019 he will publish the fiction collection, Bleachers. More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com.


Kathryn Schwille is the author of the novel, What Luck, This Life, selected by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the best Southern books of 2018. Her short fiction has appeared in New Letters, Memorious, Literary Hub, storySouth, Crazyhorse, and other journals, and has been cited twice for Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize. In 2013, she was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. She lives in Charlotte and is on the regular faculty at Charlotte Center for Literary Arts.


Krystal A. Smith , a North Carolina native, is a Black lesbian writer of poetry and speculative fiction. Her poems have appeared in Tulips Touching (2011), and short stories have appeared in Ladylit Publishing’s Summer Love: Stories of Lesbian Holiday Romance (2015) and Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Fiction (2016). Krystal holds an M.A. in English from Western Carolina University and a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University. Her debut collection of speculative fiction, Two Moons: A Collection of Short Fiction, was released last year by BLF Press. You can find her online at www.krystalasmith.com or on Twitter @authorkasmith.


Ed Southern has been Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network since 2008, after almost a decade as Sales Director and Vice President of John F. Blair, Publisher. He is the author of four books, including the short-story collection Parlous Angels, and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the North Carolina Literary Review, storySouth, Change Seven, The Dirty Spoon, the Asheville Poetry Review, South Writ Large, and elsewhere. He received the 2015 Fortner Award from St. Andrews University for his service to the literary arts in North Carolina.

Jamie Rogers Southern worked at the Alabama Booksmith in her native Birmingham for more than five years as event organizer, buyer, and store manager. She moved to New York in 2007 to work for the American Booksellers Association as Education Coordinator; in addition to writing and leading education sessions for ABA, she was their coordinator for BookExpo America and Winter Institute in 2008. She has been working with Bookmarks, a literary arts nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem, since 2011, currently as Operations Director. Bookmarks' nonprofit independent bookstore opened in downtown Winston-Salem in July 2017.

 


 

The 2019 Spring Conference is made possible with support from The MFA in Creative Writing Department at UNC-Greensboro and the North Carolina Arts Council.


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