UND alumnus returns to alma mater as a featured author at Writers Conference


Kate Menzies

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UND alumnus returns to alma mater as a featured author at Writers Conference

Brian Maxwell is returning to his alma mater this week to share his talents as part of the 2014 Writers Conference.

Since graduating from UND with a Ph.D. in English, specializing in creative writing, Maxwell has gone on to be featured in Fugue, Evansville Review, Louisville Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Rio Grande Review, 580 Split, 2 Bridges Review, Sierra Nevada Review and elsewhere.

But he hasn't lost touch with the University that helped him get his start.

When deciding on where he wanted to obtain his Ph.D., Maxwell knew UND was the perfect fit for him.

"I heard great things about the faculty and about the program," he said. "I wanted to study creative writing and UND was ahead of the curve at the time in respect to offering an advanced degree appropriate to my interests."

When looking back on the education he received while at UND, Maxwell had nothing but positive things to say.

"I feel as if my education from UND was top notch," he said. "I was able to specialize in avenues of study that interested me personally, and to participate in a number of various modes of study that I hadn't really even considered before. The English Department at UND really is an academically diverse group; taking advantage of their divergent interests was certainly key to my education."

It was his professors and love of reading that spawned his love of writing.

"My teachers taught me how to read, and showed me that to be a writer one needs first to write, to learn by trying and failing and trying again," said Maxwell.

While at UND, Maxwell was recognized for his work by being awarded the Henry and Mary Doak Scholarship for Excellence in Writing. He was also nominated for the Best New American Voices series.

Humbly, Maxwell attributes much of his success to his UND education.

"Without UND, I might not have a career at all. My time at UND helped me to figure out that I wanted to teach writing, and that I could also be a professional writer at the same time. Since I was lucky enough to land a full-time teaching job in my hometown (Melbourne, Fla.), you might say that UND helped me come full circle," said Maxwell.

So what advice does Maxwell have for students to help them obtain the job of their dreams?

"Find someone who is doing what you want to do ? and pay close attention. Also, be flexible. Times change, and so do dreams, I think, whether we realize this fact or not," said Maxwell.

Maxwell is slated to be part of this year's Writers Conference on Friday, April 4. His reading session will begin at 4 p.m. and will take place at the North Dakota Museum of Art.

The Writers Conference

All Writers Conference sessions are free to attend and open to the public and will take place at the Museum of Art unless specified otherwise on the schedule.

Wednesday, April 2:

  • Noon, Panel Discussion, "Muddy Waters: Literature and Culture" with Geoff Dyer, Jessica Lott and Sarah Leavitt. Moderator: Joel Jonientz
  • 4 p.m., Jessica Lott, author reading
  • 6 p.m., Film, "UND Writers Conference Flashback: 1970s"
  • 8 p.m., Geoff Dyer, author reading

Thursday, April 3:

  • Noon, Panel Discussion, "Literature, Art, and All that Jazz" with Robert Pinsky, Geoff Dyer, Sarah Leavitt and Brian Maxwell. Moderator: Lauren Reuter.
  • 4 p.m., Sarah Leavitt, author reading
  • 6:30 p.m., Voices of the Valley
  • 8 p.m., performances by Robert Pinsky and the UND Jazz Ensemble

Friday, April 4:

  • Noon, Panel Discussion, "Standin' at the Crossroads: Literature" with Colson Whitehead, Robert Pinsky, Jessica Lott and Brian Maxwell. Moderator: Eric Wolfe.
  • 4 p.m., Brian Maxwell, author reading
  • 6 p.m., Film, "UND Writers Conference Flashback: 1980s"
  • 8 p.m., Colson Whitehead, author reading

Additional Information:

General information: www.undwritersconference.org

Public Readings: UND.edu/orgs/writers-conference/current-conference/wc-readings.cfm

Community Writing Workshops: UND.edu/orgs/writers-conference/current-conference/wc-writing-workshop.cfm

All other questions or concerns, please contact Crystal Alberts, director, UND Writers Conference: crystal.alberts@UND.edu

Find the UND Writers Conference on Facebook.

Kate Menzies University & Public Affairs student writer

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