Authors, poets, documentary filmmaker headline annual IU Writers’ Conference

Post by Bethany Nolan of  IU Communications:

A couple of weeks ago, I saw author Ann Patchett speak in Indianapolis. She talked about how people, particularly aspiring writers, always ask about inspiration and how to ensure a visit from the writing muse.

There’s no secret, she said. Writing is plain old hard work, requiring discipline and sheer perseverance.

IUWC graphicFor most of us, that’s where the Indiana University Writers’ Conference comes into the picture. Over the past 73 years, the conference has drawn hundreds of writers to Bloomington to hone their skills via workshops and classes in fiction, poetry and creative writing.

This year’s conference, May 26 to 31, includes authors Arthur Phillips and Scott Hutchins, IU professor Catherine Bowman, IU alum and poet Nathaniel Perry and IU alum Lloyd Suh, who will teach a screenwriting course. Writer and visual artist Alix Lambert will also conduct a class, while IU Cinema will screen her feature-length documentary on the last night of the conference.

Not familiar with Phillips? A film adaptation of his novel “Angelica” is being shot in London and New York. Several of his other titles were New York Times Notable Books, and his fifth book, “The Tragedy of Arthur,” became a full stage production this year under the auspices of the Guerrilla Shakespeare Project.

(And in what might be my favorite part of his bio, the Harvard graduate describes himself as a “child actor, a jazz musician, a speechwriter, a dismally failed entrepreneur and a five-time Jeopardy! champion.”)

“He’s a really exciting writer, and we’re lucky to have him,” conference director Bob Bledsoe said, adding with a chuckle, “We happen to have a mutual friend, so I was able to leverage that friendship to lure him here.”

Bledsoe said he’s excited about this year’s conference. “It’s such a vital event after all these years. It continues to surprise me how much energy our conference participants bring, and we’re very fortunate that we’re able to attract the caliber of writers that we do. We have a strong reputation, so they say yes.”

Bowman, who is director of IU’s MFA creative writing program, has published several poetry collections. Her work has been included in several anthologies and, among other awards, her writing has received the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and four Yaddo Fellowships. Fellow poet Perry’s debut collection is titled “Nine Acres.”

Lambert’s documentary “Bayou Blue” had its world premiere in competition at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. The film, which tells the story of a serial killer in southeastern Louisiana, will screen at IU Cinema at 7 p.m. May 30. Want to go? Information about tickets is available online.

Space is still available for the IU Writers’ Conference. Registration details are available online, and Bledsoe noted IU undergraduate students will receive a $200 discount for classes.

Lambert, Hutchins, Suh, Perry, Phillips and Bowman will also give public readings the first four nights of the conference at 8 p.m. at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, 107 W. Ninth St. A full schedule is available online, and the readings are free and open to the public.

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