Each Fall, MTSU Write celebrates its mission by hosting the Creative Writing Conference
on the MTSU campus. The Conference brings together students, mentors, alumni, and
members of the community for breakout sessions, a keynote, lunch, and graduation to
recognize those students who have completed three trimesters with the program.
The 2017 conference will be held Saturday, September 30, in the MTSU Student Union. (NEW LOCATION!!)
Keynote Speaker: Fred Arroyo
Fred Arroyo is the author of Western Avenue and Other Fictions, shortlisted for the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and The Region of Lost Names, a finalist for the 2008 Premio Aztlán Prize. A recipient of an Individual Artist
Program Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, Fred’s fiction is included in the Library of Congress series “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic
Writers.” He’s currently completing a book of nonfiction stories, Sown in the Earth: Stories in Memory, and is at work on a new book of fiction. Fred has published widely in a variety of literary journals, and is included in the anthologies Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity and the Natural World. In the Spring of 2107 Western Humanities Review published a portfolio of brief ekphrastic prose Fred edited in conjunction with the Smithsonian exhibit Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Fred is a visiting professor of creative writing (fiction) at Middle Tennessee State University.
2017 Conference Schedule
8:30-9 Registration (SUBallroom)
9-9:15 Welcome (ballroom
9:30-11:30 Morning Breakout Sessions
"The Art of Travel Writing"
Gloria Ballard • SU 220
Your travels can change the way you see yourself in the world. Using work from contemporary
travel writers and tapping into your own experiences, this workshop examines the “art”
of travel writing as a form of creative nonfiction—writing about the outer journey
that reveals the author’s transformative inner journey.
"Demystifying Research in Persona Poetry"
Heather Dobbins • SU 221
Dobbins will focus on persona poetry and how to use research in our work—mostly how
to let it inspire and drive but not overtake the imaginative power of the writer,
nor stilt the lyric and gurative. She will offer examples by Patricia Smith and Natasha
Trethewey. She will then demonstrate how research has informed her work and demystify
this process by sharing feedback from editors and her revisions. She will close with
a writing prompt.
"Let’s Get Physical: Using Specifics to Give Your Poem the Feels"
Christian Anton Gerard • SU 224
This workshop will focus on using specifics to help your poems create an enterable
experience without over-writing or under-writing. Often, when a poem isn’t working
as the poet would like, the poem is not using its available speci cs, so it’s not
saying what it means or meaning what it says. This workshop will provide examples,
discussion, and writing prompts to help your poem get physical and, in doing so, make
more feeling possible.
"Auditing Truth for Fiction"
Odie Lindsey • SU 227
What is the relationship between fiction and lived experience? Why does our own story
often smother a good story? Building on—or perhaps against—the notion of “Write what
you know,” this panel will explore ways to consider, contribute, or even cast aside
truth for fiction.
11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Lunch • Ballroom
1:00–2:00 p.m. Keynote: Fred Arroyo
2:00–2:30 p.m. Graduation
2:30–4:30 p.m. Afternoon Breakout Sessions
"Rock Your Writing: Using Your Unique Voice to Write Your Play"
C. Kay “Andy” Landis • SU 220
Just what the world needs—another play. Not. Unless it’s your play, in your voice,
with your natural tones, pace, and rhythm. Landis helps demystify writing a play “in
your voice” by breaking down the elements of the natural musicality found in all writing.
She shines a light on how it works and why using your voice is necessary for your
play to be what you want and need it to be. No matter where you are on your playwright
journey, Landis will offer you a new way in to the structure, character, and heart
of your work. Even if you’re not a playwright, what she offers will energize your
understanding of the craft, refresh your passion for your work, and remind you of
your love for story. Approach your play in a new way and get ready to rock your writing!
"Discovering the Strange: Defamiliarization and Memoir"
D.T. Lumpkin • SU 221
Often, beginner memoirists tend to tell the reader what the story means instead of
allowing specific, vivid details to convey emotional truth. In this workshop, we will
look at examples of narrative non ction that, despite being factually true, rely heavily
on devices of ction to leave the reader with powerful impressions while resisting
the impulse to explain. Then we will practice incorporating these same devices into
our non ction writing.
"A Kind of Wound: Mining the Dull, Rough, and Ragged of Our Pasts for Effective Poems"
Kory Wells • SU 224
Sometimes as writers we gravitate toward our good memories, or those that we think
are somehow beautiful: how sweet the honeysuckle; how brilliant the sky. But even
in hopeful poems, more memorable, less predictable writing is often created by the
presence of contrast or “negative” images you might rst reject. In this session, we’ll
read work by contemporary poets such as Cecilia Woloch, Christina Stoddard, Dave Harrity,
Marcus Jackson, and Vandana Khanna with special attention to how images of the dull,
rough, ragged, and bleeding enrich these poems about origin, identity, and place.
As a bonus, the poems we’ll consider each have a style conducive to modeling, so you’ll
leave with some of your own memories in a draft of a poem or micro-prose. This session
will be suitable for all levels of writers.
"Inspired Words – Exploring Ekphrastic Poetry"
Sandy Spencer Coomer Poetry inspired by visual art seems to be a rising star in the literary world right
now. From the Metro Arts Commission invitation to respond to art around the city,
to the online journal The Ekphrastic Review, poets are finding reasons to combine
the literary with the artistic. In relating a poem to a piece of art, the possibilities
of interpretation and impression for both can be exponentially widened. In this session,
we’ll take a look at a real ekphrastic poetry project, 20/20 Vision: Focus on Italy, A Poetic Response to Photography, which is in exhibit during the conference, and explore the various ways the poets
approached writing about the photos. Then we’ll try our hand writing our own ekphrastic
poems – first with abstract art, then with some of the world’s most famous paintings,
and finally with photographs. Be prepared to be fascinated and entertained as we explore
art in its multiple forms and allow that type of creativity to enrich and inspire
4:45: Closing Remarks
We cannot wait to see you at the Fall Conference! You may find directions to MTSU
and a campus map helpful.
General registration for the Fall Conference is $60 per person, which includes continental
breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions, keynote, and MTSU Write's recognition of 2017
Discounted registration for MTSU Write alums and past mentors, MTSU students and faculty,
and Members of The Porch Collective is $40 per person.
Program enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org