Pulitzer-Winner Frank McCourt Keynote For Writers Conference
Connecticut State University System Writing Conference
Unique Writing Conference open to Teachers, University Undergraduates, Graduates, Gifted High School Students, and writers from the public.
Saturday & Sunday
Pulitzer Prize memoirist Frank McCourt will keynote a unique gathering of student and community writers from around the state the weekend of May 6 and 7 at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
On Saturday, May 6, graduate and undergraduate creative writing students from the four Connecticut State University campuses, along with outstanding student writers from the state's high schools, are being invited to a fourth annual state-wide writing conference, with a second day devoted to writing seminars for the public.
McCourt, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for Angla’s Ashes, a gritty portrayal of the author’s upbringing in Limerick, Ireland and whose latest book is Teacher Man, about his 30 years teaching in the New York City schools, will hinge together the two-day writing experience with a talk on Saturday evening in Ives Concert Hall on Western’s midtown campus.
The Los Angles Times described Teacher Man as “An enthralling work of autobiographical storytelling….Anyone who has ever faced a classroom of yawning, slouching adolescents will recognize the accuracy of McCourt’s descriptions and applaud his honesty.”
In a recent New York Magazine interview McCourt mixed it up with Daniel Asa Rose, a critic, author and visiting writer with Western’s MFA in Professional Writing. Rose will be one of the writers leading seminars in the Sunday public workshops May 7 in Danbury.
“McCourt: There’s nothing in the world like getting up in front of a high-school classroom in New York City. They won’t give you a break if you don’t hold them. There’s no escape.
“Rose: It must be vindicating to show them that you knew what you were talking about.
“McCourt: The best part—the most exquisite part, the most delicious part—is meeting those kids years later and to have proved to them that I wasn’t talking out of my ass. Nobody ever said it, but I wondered if they were thinking, What has he ever done? If you have a physical-education teacher and he has a big beer belly and he’s telling you how to run, you want to say, Hey, where do you get off?
“Rose: You showed ’em.
“McCourt: I got the Pulitzer Prize, baby! [Laughs]
“McCourt: That’s something the Church tells you: Pride is the first deadly sin. Self-deprecating is a roundabout way of praising yourself. Pretty nimble.”
On Sunday four well-known writers, including Connecticut poet laureate Marilyn Nelson and Rose, will conduct seminars for pre-registered students in the areas of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and screen writing. The afternoon will include the seminars, a panel on “Insights for Marketing Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Screenplays.” There will also be book signings, and readings by the name writers.
For a nominal fee of $20, 10 members of the public will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis to each of the four seminars given by the name writers. Once the four primary workshops are filled, additional participants will be placed into small, facilitated peer workshops in their genre. Each of these peer groups will be moderated by writers from Western Connecticut State University’s MFA in Professional Writing and will consider the work submitted by each participant.
The event, co-sponsored by the Master of Fine Arts writing program at Western Connecticut State University, the literary journal Connecticut Review, and the IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust, has received substantial grants from CSU and WestConn's President James Schmotter. The program has additional support from Drunkenboat.com, an international on-line journal for the arts.
Sign-up forms for students and faculty and the public have been posted at the official conference website and are available from www.connecticutreview.com. Look under "Creative Connections", or go directly to the website at http://so-mako.sysoff.ctstateu.edu/AcadAff/cwc.nsf.
Faculty members from the CSU System and other state universities will volunteer their talents to lead workshops and panels for the Saturday event.
Conference organizers, including John Briggs, Senior Editor of Connecticut Review, and Ravi Shankar, poet in residence at Central, expect about 120 students to attend the Saturday events, and 50 or more writers from the community for the Sunday workshops.
Saturday's program will include small group workshops focusing on student work in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, and journalism. There will also be readings by faculty, students, and the keynote speaker. The panels, readings, keynote talk and book fair will be open to the public.
Patricia D'Ascoli, publisher of Connecticut Muse, a quarterly review of the Connecticut literary scene, has agreed to coordinate a regional book fair with display tables from local publishers of books, magazines and newsletters.
Books by faculty members and other poets and writers will be sold through a table set up by Western's book store.
The Saturday event will be free to all students participants. The McCourt lecture is open to the public and free.
The CSU System serves more than 35,000 students, making it the largest public university system in Connecticut. A total of 166 academic programs are offered throughout the system, and more than 5,000 degrees are awarded annually.
Connecticut Review is the national, prize-winning literary journal published by the CSU System. The IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust has encouraged more than 3,000 young writers to compete in the program. The Trust has awarded more than $118,000 since 1998. Drunken Boat is an international online journal for the arts, featuring poems, prose, hypertext, sound art, video, digital animation, as well as photos.
Contact John Briggs (203-837-9043),Ravi Shankar (860-832-2766) , or Andy Thibault (860-567-8492) for more information.