The department of English and Foreign Languages and the division of Professional and Community Education of Georgia Regents University (GRU) present the second annual Writers Weekend at Summerville to take place on the GRU Summerville campus February 6-8.
The Writers Weekend will feature award-winning authors and faculty from diverse backgrounds who have been selected to discuss elements of their craft and share their original creative nonfiction, fiction, music and poetry. Visiting writers include Bronwen Dickey, Susan Tekulve, Dr. Blake Brandes, Eric Smith, Dr. Glenn Parris, Arial Alexis and more. Participants seeking feedback on their own writing can also register for individual critiques with the following authors: Susan Tekulve, Bronwen Dickey, Anna Harris, Jared Hegwood, Paul Sladky and Eric Smith.
Additionally, GRU Creative Writing faculty will give readings and lead special workshops for high school students.
Wait a minute… Doesn’t GRU already host another writer’s conference? What’s the difference between this and the Sandhills Writers Series?
“It my understanding, from talking to some other people, that the main difference is the mission of the event,” explained Anna Harris, a professor at GRU and director of the Writers Weekend at Summerville. “Whereas Sandhills is known for bringing in big-name, reputable authors to work with students but also community members who were writing on their own, we are really trying to target emerging writers of all ages — from high school students through senior adults. Arguably, every writer is an emerging writer, because you’re constantly changing and developing your craft, but I think the mission is the key difference in that we are trying to bring in emerging writers to work with emerging writers.”
What criteria are used to define “emerging” for this particular event? Harris explained that, as well.
“When we look for authors to invite we try to find people who have no more than maybe two books or publications — big publications — and-or people who have made a shift, like one of our writers this year has been a short story writer, but her first novel came out a couple of years ago so now she has entered this new sub-genre of fiction.”
The author Harris is referring to is Susan Tekulve. Tekulve has been writing professionally since 1990 and her first novel, “In the Garden of Stone” was published in spring 2013 after winning the South Carolina First Novel Competition in 2012. Tekulve will be reading a selection from her novel, as well as holding a separate craft talk to discuss different ways to use nature in fiction, the author said.
“It’s not a typical nature-writing workshop,” Tekulve said. “It’s a workshop for people who want to include nature in their prose. So, in other words, it’s about establishing place in all the many things that nature can do for the plot of the story. Nature is not just a backdrop for a piece of fiction or non-fiction. It can establish conflict, it can create mood, it can help to flesh out characters — it can even be like a force that the characters are up against.”
Another writer who will be featured prominently at the Writers Weekend is Bronwen Dickey. Dickey is an essayist and journalist who writes regularly for “The Oxford American.” Her work has also appeared in Houghton Mifflin’s “Best American Travel Writing 2009,” Newsweek, Outside, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Independent Weekly, among other publications. She is the youngest daughter of the late poet and novelist James Dickey. (Some of you will remember James Dickey for the novel and screenplay “Deliverance.”)
Dickey said she was beyond flattered to be asked to speak at the Writers Weekend. She will be opening up the event on Thursday night with an informal talk about her background as a writer. The event, “An Evening with Bronwen Dickey,” will be free and open to the public. Dickey will also be holding a workshop to discuss revision, and will be holding a separate session to read excerpts from her forthcoming novel “DOG/FIGHT: On Pit Bulls and Their People.”
Eric Smith is poet who has been published in 32 Poems, American Literary Review, Five Points, Pleiades, SmartishPace, Verse and the Best New Poets 2010 anthology. He is currently the Editor of “Cellpoems,” a txt-message-based literary journal. A txt-message-based literary journal? How does that work? Poems are sent out once a week via text message and all submissions are 140 characters or less.
“In the fall of 2009, we launched with a second-hand Blackberry and a lot of hope,” explained Smith. “That first year, we had about 80 subscribers. We’re up to almost 900 now, still sending out a little poem once a week. My dear friend and a great poet Saara Raappana is the co-editor. We’re very excited that, four years later, cellpoems is still happening, and people still want to be a part of it.”
More information about the Writers Weekend at Summerville, as well as the other speakers and a full schedule, can be found at gru.edu/colleges/pamplin/efl/writersweekend/