42nd Annual UND Writers Conference Begins Tuesday, March 29

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42nd Annual UND Writers Conference Begins Tuesday, March 29

Founded in 1970 by Professor John Little, the University of North Dakota Writers Conference is now celebrating its 42nd year. While the conference takes place in the heart of the heart of the country, over the past forty years, some of the most influential writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have traveled to Grand Forks to join us, including four Nobel laureates and twenty-eight Pulitzer Prize winners. However, the conference mission remains the same: to create an opportunity for a rigorous exploration of the literary arts, as well as provide a forum for a local and regional conversation about the arts as tied to our everyday lives.

All conference events are, and have always been, free and open to the public.

List of 2011 Writers Conference events

Film Festival

Part of the Writers Conference is the annual film festival. Each year's authors are invited to select films that have influenced their work or have a special connection to the year’s 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). 2011 Writers Conference Film Schedule

Writing Workshops

Writers Conference organizers are pleased to offer two Community Writers Workshops. The Poetry and Fiction Community Writers Workshops will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011 in the UND Memorial Union from noon until 1:30. The workshops are limited to no more than twenty participants.

For more information about the Fiction Workshop,contact Brian Maxwell For more information about the Poetry Workshop, contact Lisa Linrud

Trailer for Live from Bethlehem

Wednesday, March 30, 2:00 p.m.

UND Writers Conference Named 'Event of the Year’

The University of North Dakota Writers Conference was named a “Hometown Hero” for 2011 by the Greater Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) this week during the bureau’s annual Hometown Heroes celebration at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks.

The UND Writers Conference, which has drawn the world’s greatest literary artists to the Red River Valley for more than 40 years, was named “Event of the Year” at the Hometown Heroes celebration. Crystal Alberts and Heidi Czerwiec, co-directors of the 2011 Writers Conference, accepted the honor on behalf of all Writers Conference organizers.

“This gives the CVB team an opportunity to recognize and honor all the hardworking individuals and organizations we work with year after year, said Julie Rygg of the CVB, about the Hometown Heroes awards. “Without them we would not have as many visitors traveling to Grand Forks nor would we have so many events.”

Featured Writers

Carl Phillips is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Double Shadow (2011) and Speak Low (2009). He has also written a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (2004) and translated Sophocles's Philoctetes (2004). A graduate of Harvard, where he majored in Classics, Phillips taught high school Latin for eight years, while writing the poems which would result in his first book, In the Blood, recipient of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. Other honors since then include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Award, a Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and awards and fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Academy of American Poets, to which he was named a Chancellor in 2007. Phillips teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

Susan Deer Cloud is a Métis Catskill Native of Mohawk/Blackfoot/Seneca lineage. She has received various awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a Chenango County Council for the Arts Literature Grant, First Prize in Allen Ginsberg Poetry Competition (twice), Prairie Schooner’s Readers’ Choice Award, and Native American Wordcraft Circle Editor’s Award for multicultural anthology Confluence. Deer Cloud’s most recent books are The Last Ceremony and Car Stealer (FootHills Publishing); her poems, stories and essays have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She has also edited Native anthology I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) plus 2008 Spring Issue of Yellow Medicine Review, a Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art & Thought (she is now an adviser to Yellow Medicine). Currently, Deer Cloud is editing FootHills’ Re-Matriation Chapbook Series of Native Poetry and her next book of poetry, Braiding Starlight, is coming out in September 2010. You can find her on Facebook or contact her at susan.poetrymatters@gmail.com.

Matt Sienkiewicz is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and documentarian, as well as a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin. His most recent film, Live From Bethlehem was released by the Media Education Foundation in September 2009 and has screened worldwide at venues including the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the Chicago Palestine Film Festival and London’s Frontline Club. Other credits include the award winning comedy series Windy Acres and the Emmy-nominated television documentary Festa. His academic research focuses on Western involvement in Middle Eastern broadcasting initiatives and ethnic representation in American media. His work has been published in The Journal of Film and Video, The Velvet Light Trap and Sage Publications' Understanding Community Media.(http://www.livefrombethlehem.com/)

Amoussa Koriko was born in Lomé, the capital city of Togo, a very small country in West Africa. He grew up in the extremely harsh environment of one of the most populous areas in Lomé called Nyékonakpoè, where he was surrounded by the more than 12 national languages of which he speaks five. This environment constitutes one the elements that shapes Amoussa's writings. He holds a four-year college degree in Communication and Linguistics from the University of Lomé, where voluntarily refused to write his master thesis. In 2004, he moved to the U.S. and attended North Dakota State University where he got a BA in French and Theater. He is currently working on his master's in Educational Foundation and Research at UND.

A published playwright, Amoussa is also a director, actor, percussionist, and African traditional dancer. He has had most of his theater experience working with directors from Africa, Europe, and the U.S. He has taught Togolese tribal dance at NDSU, MSUM, and La Comédie de Saint-Etienne in France. In 2009, he was nominated for the Grand Prix Afrique du Thèâtre Francophone. He has founded a theater company called "Theatre Assassan du Togo," where he trains young people in theatre arts. He is also the founder of the African Arts Arena in Grand Forks, which creates a culture sharing space through the instruction of African dance and drumming. He recently directed his play When the Bird Takes Flight as the main stage production for the Newfangled Theater, a student production branch of the Little Country Theatre at NDSU. It was later invited to the Kennedy Center for American College Theater Festival 2010 for the Region V.

Amoussa has been in many productions, including film (Walking Shadow, with Uniti Teatri in Italy), as playwright, director or actor. As playwright Amoussa has written many plays including: When the Bird Takes Flight (published in French, English and French, awarded best directing Festhef, Lomé), Night Shadow (in publication), Pour un vulgaire coup de queue, A Pearl Around the Ankle, and Ainsi soit-il (Unesco award).

Among other things, Amoussa translates for new Immigrants and Refugees of French and Togolese origin in the FM area.

Maxine Hong Kingston is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who operated a gambling house in the 1940s, when Maxine was born, and then a laundry where Kingston and her brothers and sisters toiled long hours. Kingston graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1962 from the University of California at Berkeley, and, in the same year, married actor Earll Kingston, whom she had met in an English course. The couple has one son, Joseph, who was born in 1963. They were active in antiwar activities in Berkeley, but in 1967 the Kingstons headed for Japan to escape the increasing violence and drugs of the antiwar movement. They settled instead in Hawai‘i, where Kingston took various teaching posts. They returned to California seventeen years later, and Kingston resumed teaching writing at the University of California, Berkeley. While in Hawai‘i, Kingston wrote her first two books. The Woman Warrior, her first book, was published in 1976 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award, making her a literary celebrity at age thirty-six. Her second book, China Men, earned the National Book Award. Still today, both books are widely taught in literature and other classes. Kingston has earned additional awards, including the PEN West Award for Fiction for Tripmaster Monkey, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the National Humanities Medal, which was conferred by President Clinton, as well as the title "Living Treasure of Hawai‘i" bestowed by a Honolulu Buddhist church. Her most recent books include a collection of essays, Hawai‘i One Summer, and latest novel, The Fifth Book of Peace. Kingston is currently Senior Lecturer Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley.

Writer, novelist and professor Jamaica Kincaid skillfully and elegantly tempers the boundary between poetry and prose. With her books and novels, including Annie John, Lucy, At the Bottom of the River and A Small Place, she has carved out a unique and cherished place in the American literary landscape.

Kincaid’s literary "voice" is deeply rooted in her experiences as a child in her native Antigua. Growing up under the colonial rule of England instilled in her a tragic, yet often-ignored perspective. Says Kincaid, "I never give up thinking about the way I came into the world, how my ancestors came from Africa to the West Indies as slaves. I just never forget it. It’s like a big wave that’s still pulsing." Known for her candid and emotionally honest writing, in 1976 her work attracted the attention of William Shawn, former editor of The New Yorker, where she became a staff writer and featured columnist for nine years.

Kincaid won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts for her first book, At the Bottom of the River. Her award-winning book, A Small Place, inspired the 2001 documentary, Life and Debt, about the impact globalization can have on a developing country. Kincaid is at work on a new novel, See Now Then.

A professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences April 29, 2009. She's also the 2010 recipient of the Clifton Fadiman Medal. Prior to joining Claremont Mckenna College in 2009, Kincaid began her academic career in 1991 at Harvard University holding joint appointments in the English and African-American Studies departments.

Loida Maritza Pérez, author of Geographies of Home, was born in the Dominican Republic in 1963. At the time of her birth, the Dominican Republic was awash in political and economic chaos caused by the ruthless dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Though he was assassinated two years prior to Pérez's birth, the effects of his 31 year dictatorship were still being felt throughout this small island nation. Due to the economic strain, Pérez's family moved to the United States when she was three years old.

Jim Castellanos is a scientist and writer of El Salvadoran descent. After graduating from high school in California, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as an aviation ordnance technician and in 2004, served a combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His experiences led him to become a conscientious objector and writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claremont McKenna College and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. His scientific research has been published in Nature Medicine and his war writing has been anthologized in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. He is currently working on his first book.

Russell Scott Valentino is a translator, essayist, and scholar based in Iowa City, Iowa. He has published eight books, numerous essays and articles, and a variety of short translations of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from Italian, Croatian, and Russian. He is the recipient of two Fulbright research grants, two NEA literature fellowships, and a handful of awards and prizes. He is the publisher of Autumn Hill Books and Editor of The Iowa Review. He teaches in the University of Iowa’s Translation Workshop.

Sean Mclain Brown is a disabled former Marine who served in the Gulf War and is an advocate for peace. He teaches writing at De Anza College and Western Connecticut State University's Low Residency MFA program. His poetry and fiction has appeared in more than 50 publications including: The San Francisco Chronicle, EM, First Intensity, Fourteen Hills, Indiana Review, LUNA, Sentence,Paragraph, and others. His work is also featured in numerous anthologies, notably: An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions), Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (Koa Books), and My America (Blue Barnhouse). You can contact him at seanmclainbrown@gmail.com or through Facebook.

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