UND Hosts 43rd Annual Writers Conference

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News Article

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College of Arts & Sciences


Cobwebs or windmills or whatever—one sure way to clean your mental closet this spring is to take in the 43rd Annual University of North Dakota Writers Conference.

Time to join the more than 2000 lovers of literature from all over who gather here to drink in the wisdom, pleasure, and learning poured out by the best writing talents around.

This year's conference takes place March 27-March 31 in the UND Memorial Union, unless otherwise indicated. The UND Writers Conference is free and open to the public. Parking for the Conference will be available in the parking ramp directly to the east of the Memorial Union (pay parking) and the student lot east of Columbia Road (free parking). The 2012 featured artists are: former Grand Forks resident Aaron Poochigian, Jane Smiley, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Pam Houston, Brenda Miller, Hal Herzog and Mark Doty. Bios on each author and their images can be found here: http://www.undwritersconference.org/wc-authors.html

Writers Conference 101:

If you really want to get inspired—and learn how to really get the most out of this event—partake of the Writers Conference 101, designed to get you acquainted with some of the authors whom you might not know. Even the most voracious reader may not be familiar with the work of some of these award-winning writers. In fact, conference planners frequently receive praise for introducing readers to writing that challenges and inspires.

Each Writers Conference 101 session begins with a brief overview of the author, followed by questions and discussion of the book title. Even if you haven't had a chance to read the book selection yet, organizers encourage everyone to stop by for the discussion. All discussions are on Sundays, 2-3:30 pm. There's no cost and no homework. In fact, everyone who attends gets an "A+" whether they're familiar with the author's work or not.

All Writers Conference 101 Sessions will be held at the UND Bookstore - Cafe and begin at 2 p.m. The remaining sessions are as follows:

*March 4: Discussion of Brenda Miller's Listening Against the Stone with Meghan Brown, graduate of the English program.

*March 18: Discussion of Aaron Poochigian's Aratus' Phaenomena with Eric Ross, Assistant Professor of History -- Classics.

Film Festival:

Each year authors at the UND Writers Conference 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). Film choices this year include The Birds (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) (selected by Aaron Poochigian); Project Nim (selected by Hal Herzog); Wendy and Lucy (selected by Brenda Miller); and others.

About the UND Writers Conference:

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.

Now in its 43rd year, the Conference enjoys a national reputation among writers as one of the best run, most interesting events of its kind, especially because of its strong public audiences, attracted by its free and open format. A large number of volunteers from around the university and the community make it all possible, but it is still organized by the UND English Department, which donates administrative support and the release of one class per semester for the faculty member who directs it.