UND’s 44th Writers Conference set to kick off March 19


David L. Dodds

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UND’s 44th Writers Conference set to kick off March 19

The 44th Annual University of North Dakota Writers Conference, "A Portrait of an Artist" will run March 19-23.

Each year, literature lovers from all over North Dakota and beyond attend this event to listen to panel discussions, readings and ask questions of internationally prominent authors.

The lineup for this year's authors and artists include Cheryl Strayed, Nick Flynn, Ed Bok Lee, Dorothy Allison, Gary Shteyngart, Mary Jo Bang and Richard Bausch, as well as two-time Oscar nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner.

Each author will give a public reading during the Conference with time reserved for audience members to pose questions, with a book signing to follow. These readings take place at 4p.m. and 8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, primarily in the UND Memorial Ballroom. At 8p.m., on Friday, at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, the UND Writers Conference will feature "A Conversation with Tony Kushner" moderated by Jack Russell Weinstein, director of the UND Institute for Philosophy in Public Life and the host of Prairie Public's popular WHY? Radio show.

In addition to readings, the Conference includes three panel discussions, where a group of Conference authors answer questions posed by the moderator and those submitted by the audience. Also, this year, the UND Theatre Arts Department will stage two Tony Kushner plays on Saturday night, March 23. A complete schedule is available at http://www.undwritersconference.org/wc-schedule.htm.

All sessions are free to attend and open to the public.

There is no need to be familiar with an author's work prior to the session. People who are interested in brushing up on a particular author before the session can pick up books for the 2013 Writers Conference at the UND Bookstore.

UND Writers Conference Film Festival

The Writers Conference also promotes its annual film festival. Each year, authors are invited to select films that have influenced their work or have a special connection to the theme. The film festival is free and open to the public.

All films will be shown in the Lecture Bowl, located on the second floor of the UND Memorial Union (Room 204) unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, March 19

6 p.m. Elsa y Fred (Dir. Marcos Carnevale, 2005) selected by Richard Bausch

Wednesday, March 20

2 p.m. Adaptation (Dir. Spike Jonze, 2002)6 p.m. Being Flynn (Dir. Paul Weitz, 2012) selected by Nick Flynn

Thursday, March 21

6 p.m. Winter's Bone (Dir. Debra Granik, 2010) selected by Dorothy Allison

Friday, March 22

2 p.m. Floating Weeds (Dir. Yasujir? Ozu, 1959) selected by Ed Bok Lee6 p.m. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Dir. Banksy, 2010) selected by Mary Jo Bang

Digital collection:

The UND Writers Conference Digital Collection is also available online at http://www.undwritersconference.org/WCVirtual_Library.html. This collection currently has about 60 hours of past conference footage freely available online, including footage from the past five years, so that anyone with an internet connection can watch.

Community Writers Workshops:

This year's Writers Conference organizers are pleased to offer two Community Writers Workshops. The Poetry and Fiction Community Writers Workshops will be held on Saturday, March 23, in the UND Memorial Union from noon until 1:30 pm.. The workshops are limited to no more than 20 participants. For additional information about the Fiction workshop contact Abbey Numedahl at abbey.numedahl@my.und.edu.

For additional information about the Poetry workshop contact Cameron Kelsall, cameron.kelsall@my.und.edu.

Conference background:

While the English Department traces its roots to the very founding of the University in 1883, the Writers Conference only began in 1970. Founded by the late Professor John Little, the conference had a modest beginning with the Southern Writers Conference of the Arts. Funded by the College of Arts and Sciences as well as by some of the visiting writers themselves, the conference was so successful that it became an annual event, almost immediately.

Though the conference quickly had university wide appeal and, since the mid Seventies, significant attendance from the community and region, it has always been organized by faculty, staff, and students of the English Department. In more recent years it has become known nationwide as one of the most distinctive conferences of its kind, in part because it remains free and open to the public, probably the only way it could function.

Financial support for the conference has always come from a variety of sources, depending on a particular conference topic or other factors in shifting personnel and circumstances at the university. The steadiest support has been from student organizations and the president's office, but there have often been grants from outside agencies, donations from alumni and other individuals, and, since the mid-1990s, a modest but growing endowment, managed by the UND Alumni Foundation.

For the latest updates, people can always "like" the UND Writers Conference on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/University-of-North-Dakota-Writers-Conference/48005431903

To learn more about the UND Writers Conference and view the full schedule visit www.undwritersconference.org.

For additional information, please contact Crystal Alberts, UND Writers Conference co-director, at crystal.alberts@UND.edu.

About the authors:

Cheryl Strayed

Revealed as the voice behind the TheRumpus.net's beloved "Dear Sugar" column, Strayed has been hailed by The New Republic as "the ultimate advice columnist for the Internet age. Strayed is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Wild, which is the inaugural selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Strayed is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel Torch, a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award. Her stories and essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Allure, and The Best American Essays. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota. She's a founding member of VIDA: Women In Literary Arts, and serves on their board of directors.

Tony Kushner

Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols' film of Angels In America, and Steven Spielberg's Munich as well as Spielberg's movie Lincoln. His books include But the Giraffe: A Curtain Raising and Brundibar: the Libretto , with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present ; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict , co-edited with Alisa Solomon. His latest work includes a collection of one-act plays, titled Tiny Kushner , featuring characters such as Laura Bush, Nixon's analyst, the queen of Albania and a number of tax evaders, and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (which premiered at the Guthrie Theatre in May 2009, opened in New York in May 2011). During the 2010-2011 season, a revival of Angels in America ran off-Broadway at the Signature Theater in New York, winning the Lucille Lortel Award in 2011 for Outstanding Revival.

Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Oscar nomination, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, among many others. Caroline, or Change , produced in the autumn of 2006 at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, received the Evening Standard Award, the London Drama Critics' Circle Award and the Olivier Award for Best Musical. In September 2008, Tony Kushner became the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the largest theater award in the US. He was also awarded the 2009 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement. He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner , made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.

Nick Flynn

Flynn is the author of three memoirs, The Reenactments (Norton, 2013), The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment (2010) and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (2004), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir and has been translated into fifteen languages. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City has been made into a film, Being Flynn , starring Robert DeNiro as Flynn's father, Julianne Moore as his mother, and Paul Dano as Nick. He is also the author of three books of poetry, The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands (Graywolf, 2011), Some Ether (Graywolf, 2000), which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and Blind Huber (Graywolf, 2002). He has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center. Some of the venues his poems, essays and non-fiction have appeared in include The New Yorker, the Paris Review, National Public Radio's "This American Life," and The New York Times Book Review. He worked as a "field poet" and as an artistic collaborator on the film Darwin's Nightmare, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best feature documentary in 2006.

Ed Bok Lee

Lee the author of two books of poetry, Real Karaoke People, winner of a PEN/Open Book Award, and an Asian American Literary Award (Members' Choice), and Whorled, winner of a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry and a 2012 American Book Award. He also writes plays and fiction. Lee has worked as a journalist, phys ed instructor, bartender, and translator. He holds an MFA from Brown University, and has shared his work in journals, anthologies, and on stages across North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as on public radio and television, and MTV.

Dorothy Allison

Her first novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, was a finalist for the National Book Award and became an award-winning movie. Allison's second novel, Cavedweller, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won the Lambda Literary Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Lillian Smith Prize. It was also adapted for the stage and screen. She is currently working on another novel, She Who.

Gary Shteyngart

His debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It was also named a New York Times Notable Book, a best book of the year by The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian. His novel Absurdistan was published in 2006 and was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by New York Times Book Review and Time magazine, as well as a book of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. Recently, Shteyngart was recognized as one of today's top fiction writers on The New Yorker's prestigious "20 Under 40" list. His latest book is Super Sad True Love Story. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He is also a contributing editor to Travel & Leisure magazine. One of his travelogues is included in the Best American Travel Writing of 2006 anthology.

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is the author of six books of poems, including The Bride of E (2009), Elegy (2007), The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (2004), The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of Swans (2001), and Louise in Love (2001). Her first book, Apology for Want (1997), was chosen by Edward Hirsch for the 1996 Bakeless Prize. Both Louise in Love and Elegy received the Poetry Society of American's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for a manuscript-in-progress. Elegy also received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award and was listed as a 2008 New York Times Notable Book. Her translation of Dante's Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, was published by Graywolf Press in 2012. Bang's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Believer, Paris Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been chosen three times for inclusion in the Best American Poetry series. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a "Discovery"/The Nation award, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University.

Richard Bausch

Past Chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers – Bausch currently serves as the Moss Chair of Excellence in the Writing Program at the University of Memphis. He is the author of 11 novels, including Rebel Powers, In The Night Season, Hello To The Cannibals, Thanksgiving Night, and Peace, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His stories have been collected in Spirits, Someone To Watch Over Me, The Stories of Richard Bausch, Wives & Lovers: 3 Short Novels, and the most recent Something is Out There. Bausch has won two National Magazine Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Writer's Award and the 2004 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

David Dodds

University Relations writer

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