Bestselling author Jami Attenberg to lead workshop at IU Writers’ Conference

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications colleague Jaclyn Lansbery:

For the past 74 years, the IU Writers’ Conference has brought in a new set of writers, each offering their own set of experiences and expertise to a range of students eager to perfect the art of writing.

IU Writers' ConferenceJami Attenberg, author of the bestselling novel “The Middlesteins,” will be teaching a fiction writing workshop. This year’s conference will also bring in Sally Ball, who will teach the poetry workshop; IU alum Christine Sneed and T.M. McNally, both teaching a fiction class; Stephen Motika, who will be teaching a poetry class; and Jim Elledge, an English professor at the Kennesaw State University, who will be teaching a creative nonfiction class.

Attenberg’s novel, which made it onto the New York Times’ bestseller list, garnered significant attention when it was published in June 2013 by Grand Central Publishing.

IU Writers’ Conference Director Bob Bledsoe said he was able to get Attenberg to lead a workshop because she was a “friend of a friend.”

It’s also important, Bledsoe added, that workshop leaders are just as good of teachers as they are writers, especially since the conference’s central focus is on the participants.

“We’re a craft-oriented conference,” said Bledsoe, director of IU’s MFA creative writing program. “Which means we really focus on the nuts and bolts; we don’t have agents who come or people from publishing houses. It’s really about what you can learn during your time here.”

Jami Attenberg

Jami Attenberg

IU English professor Adrian Matejka, whose poetry collection “The Big Smoke” was nominated for a Pulitzer this year, will kick off the conference with a free public reading at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 1 at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. Nightly, free readings will be held by class and workshop leaders through the end of the conference on June 6.

Writers who are looking for a more immersive learning experience can sign up for the workshop registration, which also includes access to all classes, readings and receptions, while others have the option of signing up for the classes only.

Since Bledsoe became the director of the IU Writers’ Conference in 2006, he’s seen a range of people attending the conference – from high school students to retired IU faculty, and even people traveling from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Attending the conference is a lot like a “working vacation,” Bledsoe said, where those signed up for the conference see and bond with the same people all day for an entire week.

“It’s inspiration, really,” he said. “It’s emotionally fulfilling. I still leave every year sort of creatively full with a list of books that I’m anxious to buy and read because someone has mentioned them throughout the week.”

Want to go? Visit the IU Writers’ Conference website for registration details.

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