Monday, October 5, 2009

conference report: MCEA and RWC

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of presenting lectures at two conferences: Michigan College English Association (hosted at Eastern Michigan University) and Rochester Writers Conference (hosted at Rochester College). What an incredible weekend of networking, socializing, and learning. Yes, learning, because I never present at a conference without attending other sessions and workshops and connecting with other writers.

The MCEA conference had such diversity in their programming, but one of the standout presentations I appreciated most was a keynote address after lunch. Guests Sari Adelson and Mary Heinen, Coordinators for the Prison Creative Arts Project, shared information and perspectives on this amazing project. Prison Creative Arts Project collaborates with incarcerated youth and adults, and the formerly incarcerated, to do creative expression, especially in theater, poetry, and art. They shared examples of poetry created by participants, stories of how creative writing can offer a catalyst for transformation and inspiration, and overall it was such a moving presentation.

I also have to mention this: Eastern Michigan University has a beautiful campus! The conference was hosted in the Student Center, a bright, modern facility that is very high-tech, enviro-friendly, and service oriented. From shopping to cafes to meeting rooms and a noon-hour pianist… this is a great place for students – and visitors! I couldn’t help but notice there is also a monthly poetry event hosted there, so I have a feeling I’ll be back in Ypsilanti very soon.

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to have my lecture first thing in the morning so that I could enjoy the rest of the conference activities throughout the day. Again, the keynote at Rochester Writers Conference was sensational, as non-fiction author Chip St. Clair shared the experiences that lead to his memoir, The Butterfly Garden. His childhood days were spent on the run with one of America’s most wanted killers – but, as a child, he didn’t know it. Moving beyond such an upbringing and working hard to overcome his past while aiming for a future of hope, trust, and peace is the backbone of Chip’s memoir and was openly discussed in his presentation. Simply amazing.

Too, I also really enjoyed a panel with two Michigan magazine editors: Rebecca Stevens from Ambassador Magazine and Becky Repp from American Road Magazine. These two (very busy) editors were wonderful in sharing tips on how to submit to their magazines, overall suggestions for submitting articles and pitches to magazines, and how to build a strong author-editor relationship. Plus, it was nice to be introduced to two regional publications that have a national audience. Having had a good look at each magazine, I highly recommend them and will keep my eye out for upcoming issues.

As you can see, this was a very busy, very fun weekend of writing related activities and what an incredible assortment of people I met. I talked with writers from all levels and backgrounds, met a couple of beekeepers, ran into a Canadian or two who made the drive to Rochester College, and collected a lot of business cards.

If you have never attended a writers’ conference, I so recommend it. Whether a local one-day event hosted at a community college or arts center, or a national event spanning several days on location at a conference center, such events can be so inspiring, motivating, and good for the writer’s heart, mind, and soul. After attending something like this, you’ll no doubt come back home feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and ready to get to work. I know I did!

Thanks, again, to the conference organizers for welcoming me on board and to the many wonderful new writers I met at each event.

I have an assortment of other events and workshops coming up in the next few months, so do check my website from time to time for updates on the calendar, or drop me an email to see if I plan on being in your area. I love to hear from readers and hope to meet many of you face-to-face if the opportunity presents itself.

Remember, too, this Wednesday I’ll be sharing an author Q&A with Cindy Gerard and will soon be posting a new list of upcoming author interviews.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment :

  1. Oh wow. that sounds so amazing :) I think it's great that someone as talented as you still goes to the workshops. Goes to show that you never stop learning about writing hey :)