Writers Conference 101 Begins Feb 6

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Writers Conference 101 Begins Feb 6

by Craig A. Garaas-Johnson, news and features editor

Celebrating its 42nd year, the UND Writers Conference boasts a deep bench of past award-winning authors. Past guest writers have included 28 Pulitzer Prize winners, four Nobel laureates, and numerous National Book Award winners, and MacArthur Geniuses.

The UND Writers Conference enjoys a unique reputation among literary forums, and unlike most events of its type across the country, the event is free and open to the public.

According to Writers Conference Director Crystal Alberts, “The UND Writers Conference has a national reputation and an international reputation, so authors already know us. They are very honored to have been invited.”

While having a lineup of great writers is fantastic, it may be difficult for those outside the literary world to understand what makes a particular author’s work significant. To address this, conference co-directors Crystal Alberts and Heidi Czerwiec have put together Writers Conference 101.

“Sometimes reading can seem like a solitary adventure,” says Alberts. “This allows for discussion among community members, faculty, students – it’s a great opportunity for interaction from many of walks of life.”

“And, you may learn something,” Alberts says with a smile.

“[The Writers Conference is] a unique opportunity,” Alberts continues. “At most institutions when you study literature, you read [an author’s work] in a book and it stays in a book. Here at UND we incorporate the Writers Conference authors … into coursework in the Spring. My class is reading Maxine Hong Kingston and in a few weeks they’ll be able to walk up to Maxine Hong Kingston and say, ‘I was reading Warrior Woman and I have a question about this,’ and the author will respond.”

Former UND English Professor, the late John Little, established the Writers Conference in 1970, as a way of assembling his literary friends from across the country. Since that time, the conference has expanded and has showcased some of the most well-known figures in modern literature, including: Allen Ginsberg, Truman Capote, Edward Albee, Louise Erdrich, Thomas McGrath, Sherman Alexie, Jon Hassler, Alice Walker, and Sir Salman Rushdie.

The conference also includes poetry and fiction Community Writers Workshops held on Saturday, April 2, 2011, in the UND Memorial Union from noon until 1:30 pm. The workshops are limited to no more than 20 participants.


All Writers Conference 101 Sessions will be held at the UND Bookstore - Cafe

  • Feb. 6 - Discussion on the work of Carl Phillips with Heidi Czerwiec, Associate Professor of English/Co-Director UND Writers Conference.
  • Feb. 13 - Discussion on the work of Maxine Hong Kingston with Colleen Berry, Assistant Professor of Chinese.
  • Feb. 20 - Discussion on the work of Loida Maritza Pérez with Kathleen Coudle-King, Senior Lecturer of English, and Lorenzo Serna.
  • Feb. 27 - Discussion on the works of Jamaica Kincaid with Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, Associate Professor of English.
  • Mar. 6 - Discussion of Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace with Sheryl O'Donnell, Professor of English, and Hugh Grindberg.
  • Mar. 20 - Discussion on the works of Susan Deer Cloud with Sheryl O'Donnell, Professor of English.

Learn more about the UND Writers Conference

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