Posts Tagged ‘writers conference’

We are pleased to announce that we have two wonderful keynoters for our fall conference on October 20. Maria Luisa Arroyo will get us started in the morning and Ann Hood will be our after-lunch speaker. Read more about them.

We hope to be able to provide our full schedule of panels and events later this month.

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Guess who is interviewed in the September 2010 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle? Our keynoter Andre Dubus III, that’s who.

The piece, titled “Letting in ‘the Other,'” is by Laura McCullough.

In the interview Dubus makes striking observations such as “I try not to say anything with fiction, I try to find something,” and, “I’ve thrown away far more novels than I’ve kept, and really, the four books I’ve written are phoenixes that have risen out of the mountains of ashes of what’s failed.”

We’re confident he will give a wonderful keynote speech.

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The first WriteAngles conference was held on December 5, 1987, making this year’s our twenty fifth since two conferences were held in 1988. From the outset, and ever since, the organizing spirits were a handful of volunteer writers who joined together to produce an event that would inspire and inform. Soon after the initial event many of the organizers would join the nascent National Writers Union and the conference would be sponsored by the union’s local chapter until 2007.

At the start the emphasis was on fair payment for writers. At the second conference, held at Hampshire College, the program included a panel boldly titled “Making a Living as a Poet.” Conference fees were low: $30, plus lunch in the college’s cafeteria. The most popular panel turned out to be the literary agents, destined to become a must-have component of all future conferences.

We enjoyed a distinguished lineup of panelists at our third conference, held at the Zone Art Center in Springfield. Among them were agent Helen Rees, editor Richard Todd, journalist Peter Nelson, and novelists Elinor Lipman and Marilynne Robinson. We were on our way to becoming known as a little conference with big content. Over the next three years (nos. 4, 5, 6) panelists would include Pat Schneider, Barry Werth, Anne Halley, Richard Hall, and Anne Bernays. In 1990 we began a 16-year partnership with UMass’s Adventures in Lifelong Learning, which provided an on-campus venue with registration and dining services. That conference went down in memory as the year of the “horrible Price Chopper doughnuts.” We resolved to have better food.

In 1992 (no. 7) we adopted the name WriteAngles. The next year our distinguished keynoter failed to show up and the invaluable Madeleine Blais, with about an hour’s notice, gave a marvelous talk which included describing an interview with Tennessee Williams. In 2006 (no. 21) we had another wonderful keynote address from a generous stand-in when Suzanne Strempek Shea subbed for a speaker forced to cancel.

It was at conference no. 10 (1995) that we started to become aware of the wonders and perils of electronic communication. Keynoter John Seabrook, of the New Yorker, spoke of the dangers of electronic publishing in terms of contracts which required writers to surrender rights “of every kind whether known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity.”

At no. 11 (1996), with an all-time high attendance, keynoter Jonathan Harr cracked up the audience as he told of his eight-year struggle to write his best-selling book A Civil Action. He revealed that he had confessed in his journal that he felt the “sort of hopelessness that a man adrift on the North Atlantic might feel.”

In 2000 (no. 15) we held the conference at Mount Holyoke College’s Willits-Hallowell Center for the first time and were delighted to hear a keynote address from Grace Paley. In 2003 and 2004 we sampled conference services at UMass and Smith but decided in 2005 to return to Willits-Hallowell. That year, at our twentieth conference, a packed room listened intently to keynoter Augusten Burroughs who declared writing had literally saved his life. The following year we ended our alliance with UMass Lifelong Learning and went it alone, handling all registration and clerical tasks ourselves. Our solo status helped increase our small surplus which since 2008 we’ve distributed as grants to local groups and programs that promote reading and writing.

Looking back, it is inspiring to realize that the successes of the past twenty-four conferences have been due largely to the generosity of writers who have freely shared their labor, their organizing abilities, and their wisdom.

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We just learned the that our morning keynoter has received a major honor. The following is from her press release:

Springfield poet and playwright Magdalena Gómez has been named a National Endowment for the Arts American Master Artist by NEA American Masterpieces Presenters, Pregones Theater of New York City.

Gómez shares the NEA American Master Artist award from Pregones Theater with Papo Vazquez, legendary Puerto Rican trombonist and composer, and soprano Eva de la O, artistic director of Musica de Camara which celebrates its 30th season this year. Eva de la O was the first Puerto Rican opera singer to perform at La Scala.

On Monday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m. at CityStage, Ms.Gómez will premiere her latest performance text “Rumors of a New Day” as part of a Teatro V!da multi-media production, with new music by Teatro V!da’s music director, internationally acclaimed composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Heshima, whose latest recording “Round and Round” is currently playing on radio stations throughout the U.S. and abroad. Also performing are Teatro V!da Artistic Associates, trumpet and cornet master Taylor Ho Bynum, who the Boston Globe hails as “One of the most brilliant of the new third millennial masters of his generation”; composer Abraham Gomez-Delgado, of whose compositions the NY Times writes: “…twisting genres at will and singing with skewed humor. But it’s largely unplugged, taking the horn section and guitar vamps of Puerto Rican salsa and bending them by way of Mingus and Sun Ra”; Afro-Carribean dance sensation Lydia Pérez, founder of the Puerto Rican Institute for Arts and Advocacy, Inc. (PRIAA) State of Rhode Island; nationally acclaimed Springfield poet María Luisa Arroyo, author of Gathering Words: Recogiendo Palabras; the Teatro V!da Ensemble; Sci-Tech Band and Teatro V!da member Jeremy Turgeon in duet with Taylor Ho Bynum; original media by Diego Angarita-Horowitz and Amherst Community Television; Springfield actor Mirtha Quiroz; and many other surprises, with opening address by Mayor Dominc Sarno. The performance will be directed by Gómez, who will also be performing.

During the 2010-2011 season Gómez will debut other new work at Pregones Theater, where she will be in residence as part of the NEA American Masterpieces Presenters award. Pregones is one of the premiere Latino Theaters in the country. Founded in 1979, and based in The Bronx, Pregones Theater has performed in more than 400 cities (including Springfield) and 13 countries, enjoying citywide recognition for lasting contributions to the performing arts field and is recipient of numerous distinctions and awards.

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Keep your writing inspired. Spend a high-energy day surrounded by other writers and writing professionals. We’ll feed you, give you new ideas, and send you off ready to forge ahead with your novel, short stories, essays, poems, etc. We’ve been planning this year’s conference for months and will begin registration soon.

This year there will be two separate opportunities to present your work to agents. As we have done in the past we will be setting up individual agent meetings on a first-come, first-served basis. Secondly, we have come up with a new approach to the afternoon agents’ panel. Instead of following the usual panel format we will borrow an idea from “reality” TV. We will choose, at random, 1-page samples of writing contributed anonymously by conference participants (i.e., you) and read them aloud to get a quick yea or nay response from the agents (plus a brief explanation). We can’t guarantee yours will be chosen, but it’s worth a try.


Meanwhile, save the date below!

When: Saturday, November 21, 2009
Where: Willits-Hallowell Center on Mount Holyoke College campus, South Hadley, MA
What to expect: Here is a sampling of participant comments we received from past conferences:

“Great conference. Thank you!”

“Agents’ panel — superb, wowee! Thanks. I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to meet an agent. It may have actually been life-changing! Dennis Lehane was superlative. Screen Angles was very useful. . . . Overall, this conference has been the best WriteAngles of the several I’ve attended. Bravo!”

“Keep up the good work. This was extraordinarily relevant to my career. Thank you.”

“Great author speakers.”

“Conference Organization, excellent!”

“Great! Wonderful you’re doing this!”

“Keep up the great work.”

“Thank you for such a good conference!”

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