The Program and its publications will be at Bookfair Booth #503 along with their swarm of alumni, current students, staff, editors, authors, and faculty buzzing in and out throughout the conference. There are also several events you won't want to miss:
Thursday, March 1:
- Ashland Poetry Press Author Signings
Richard Jackson 3 p.m., Booth #503
Helen Pruitt Wallace 4 p.m., Booth #503
- On-Site Reception Sponsored by River Teeth
7-8:15 p.m., Hilton Chicago Hotel, Wiliford A, 3rd Floor
- Ashland Poetry Press Author SigningMarc J. Sheehan 12:30 p.m., Booth #503
- Author Signing
Stephen Haven, Director, 1:30 p.m., Booth #503
- Ashland Poetry Press Author Reading
Featuring Mary Makofske, Jason Schneiderman, Richard Jackson, Marc J. Sheehan, Helen Pruitt Wallace, and Lorna Knowles Blake
3-5 p.m., The Court, Columbia College Chicago
- Ashland University MFA Poetry Faculty ReadingAshland University MFA poetry faculty members Stephen Haven, Peter Campion, Angie Estes, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Mark Irwin, and Ruth L. Schwartz will give a reading celebrating the fifth anniversary of the program
6-8 p.m., The Court, Columbia College Chicago
- Ashland University MFA Creative Nonfiction Faculty ReadingJill Christman, Robert Root, Steven Harvey, Sonya Huber, and Kathryn Winograd
3-4:30 p.m., Hilton Chicago Hotel, Wiliford A, 3rd Floor
Thursday, March 1:
12-1:15 p.m. - Eminent Debuts: Four Authors Discuss Their First Nonfiction Books(Barrie Jean Borich, Bonnie J. Rough, Cheryl Strayed, Ira Sukrungruang, Ryan Van Meter)
Lake Huron, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
How do nonfiction book publishing debuts compare across mainstream, independent, and university presses? How are these books linked to work authors publish first in journals? How might media misperceptions of the genre impact authors’ careers? University of Nebraska Press author and nonfiction editor of Water~Stone Review interviews four respected writers publishing with Knopf, Counterpoint, Sarabande, and University of Missouri about their first time out with book-length literary nonfiction.
1:30-2:45 p.m. - Out of the Stacks and onto the Market: The MFA Poetry Thesis Gets Serious, and Faculty Members React(Erika Meitner, Beth Ann Fennelly, Carmen Giménez Smith, Mary Biddinger, Alan Michael Parker)
Marquette, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Autobiographical treatises, project books, greatest hits of the workshop—MFA faculty (who moonlight as press editors and book-contest judges) discuss pedagogical issues on advising MFA poets at the culmination of the degree. What makes for ideal thesis advising? Is an MFA thesis meant to be a book? We will explore the range of ways to shape a first collection, transcend conventions and clichés, and best advise students on balancing their development as poets with their professional goals.
3:00-4:15 p.m. - A Tribute to David Young(Angie Estes, Bruce Beasley, Thomas Lux, David St. John, Lee Upton)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
A tribute to David Young’s lifelong commitment to poetry on the occasion of his 75th birthday and publication of his selected poems. One of the founding editors of Field, editor of Oberlin’s poetry and translation series, and author of eleven poetry books and twenty books of translations and criticism, Young’s work has shaped contemporary poetry for over forty years. Each participant will offer a personal and critical assessment of his literary achievements and his profound, enduring influence.
4:30-5:45 p.m. - What’s Wrong with the Whole Truth?(Susan Resnick, Philip Gerard, Peter Trachtenberg, Paige Williams)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Many writers feel comfortable molding the truth to create a more satisfying story, yet still calling their piece nonfiction as long as the emotional core and basic frame of the work remain true. Not the writers on this panel. These authors, journalists, and nonfiction professors will explore the philosophy of factual versus emotional honesty and discuss how to achieve both—beautiful and moving nonfiction writing that is 100% true.
Friday, March 2
10:30-11:45 a.m. - The Writer in the World: A Look at Immersion Writing(Robin Hemley, Melissa Pritchard, Joe Mackall, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Christopher Merrill)
Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Immersion journalism, travel writing, and immersion memoir all engage writers in projects that involve the self but don’t solely rely on the writer’s memory and imagination. In immersion journalism, the writer uses the self to write about the world. In immersion memoir, the writer uses the world to write about the self. And in travel writing, there’s a bit of both. Several accomplished writers of these forms discuss the writer’s relationship and responsibility to the world at large.
10:30-11:45 a.m. - The Rooted Narrator: Negotiating Time and Narrative Distance in Nonfiction(Jill Christman, Debra Gwartney, Sonya Huber, Dan Raeburn, Bonnie J. Rough)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
To discover the trigger for an excavation of the past, nonfiction writers confront two urgent questions: Why here? Why now? Our panel of journalists, memoirists, and essayists will discuss this search for the sweet spot—the specific time and place in which a narrator is rooted—in work we admire, and we will elaborate on techniques used to find that platform from which to ask essential questions and launch the journey.
4:30-5:45 p.m. - The Persona in Personal Narrative: Crafting the Made-Up Self(Michael Steinberg, Thomas Larson, Mimi Schwartz, Phillip Lopate)
Continental C, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Carl Klaus writes in The Made-Up Self that the narrator in a personal essay or memoir “is a written construct, a fabricated thing, a character of sorts.” Four essayist/critics will discuss/show how such selves are constructed. Each examines his/her writing and that of published writers; and together they speculate on whether such selves were made-up, when or if the writer was conscious of such invention, and how we judge one fabricated ‘I’ as more or less authentic/ truthful than another.
Saturday, March 3
9:00-10:15 a.m. - Desperate and Deliberate: Thoreau and the Nature Writer(Tom Montgomery Fate, Elizabeth Dodd, David Gessner, Robert Root, Mary Swander)
Continental C, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Henry Thoreau, the hermit philosopher from Concord, opined that while others lived “a life of quiet desperation,” in town, he would construct a more deliberate life in the woods. Since the publication of Walden in 1854, hundreds of nature writers in vastly different contexts have drawn on his themes and style. This panel will consider the enduring relevance and influence of Thoreau on nature writing, and on their own work.
9:00-10:15 a.m. - Setting Limits: Balancing Paid Writing and Creative Writing(Valerie Due, Matt Tullis, Jason Tucker, Ashley Bethard, Marilyn Bousquin)
Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Many writers make a living as freelancers or staff writers, switching between creative work and paid work daily. But juggling the time and creative energy needed for both can be a challenge, even if your day job bears no resemblance to your creative writing. Writers who’ve learned how to balance both writing worlds share tips, techniques, and ideas for keeping one writing realm from overwhelming the other.