Ann Arbor Book Festival-Writer’s Conference

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Ann Arbor Book Festival is pleased to bring another dynamic Writer’s Conference to the community. This will be a full-day experience where attendees can hone their skills in sessions led by a noted group of writers and instructors. These teachers have very impressive resumes and are excited to bring you their expertise and share their passion for writing.

The conference sessions will be held in Mason-Haven Hall, on central campus, directly west of the Diag (attached to Angell Hall).

Review the following information to make your selections for the individual sessions. When you are ready, click here to register and pay the registration fee. The $100 fee includes coffee, three small-group sessions, and lunch. After registering, you will receive an email listing your session assignments. Don’t forget to check out the Moonlight Book Crawl on Friday and Saturday nights, the Children’s fair from 2-4 on Saturday, the Author’s Forum conversation in Shapiro Lobby at 3:15 on Saturday, and the presentation by Newberry Award winner Christopher Paul Curtis from 4-5 on Saturday.

Alternatively, you may download a form, fill in all applicable information, and send the completed form along with a check (made out to Ann Arbor Book Festival) to:

AABF Writer’s Conference
1118 Granger Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

We are also very excited to bring you another “Breakfast with the Authors”. For Conference attendees, the cost for the Breakfast is only $10. You may review the details of the Breakfast by clicking here. On our Events page in the Giftshop, there is an option for Conference / Breakfast combo.

Location and Check-In

We will be in classrooms in the Mason-Haven Halls on Central Campus. This building complex is attached to Angell Hall (105 S. State St. AA MI 48109) and can be easily accessed from the west side of the Diag. There will be volunteers to direct you once you enter the building; please look for signs for the Writer’s Conference.

Parking Close to Mason-Haven Halls:

The City of Ann Arbor has numerous meters and parking structures for use. We recommend using the parking structure located on Maynard Street between East William and East Liberty (see the Central & South Campus map) or the William-Fourth or the Ann-Ashley Street structures.

Room Assignments

“A” Sessions – MH 1436
“B” Sessions – MH 1437
“C” Sessions – MH 1448

Writer’s Conference Sessions

9:45 am – 10:00 am – Registration / Check-In

Please note: Check-In will take place in the Library Gallery, Room 100 of Hatcher Graduate Library. This is also where lunch with the Authors will occur.

10:00 am – 11:10 am – SESSION 1

Testing the Character of Our Characters with Jeff Kass

As students of writing, we often hear the admonition that our characters should surprise us, that if they don’t surprise us, they won’t surprise our readers either. But how do we create the conditions that allow our characters to surprise us? This seminar will postulate that one effective way to develop characters that surprise the writer is to insert them into morally ambiguous situations without the writer knowing what the outcome will be when the characters face them. We’ll examine poems and prose excerpts and participate in a writing exercise where we’ll encourage our characters to test themselves in order to illuminate who they really are and who they have the potential of becoming.

B. A New Vision For Our Heritage Foundations with Roger Bonair-Agard and Angel Nafis

Primarily through the examination of Patricia Smith’s “Thief of Tongues,” this workshop is open to all genres and will explore what we inherit from our forbears and what we gain/lose by migrating, even when this migration is one of socio-economic class lines. We get at the root of heritage, and the foundation of the American Dream by laying bare what we keep and what we relinquish as we move steadily forward.

C. Practical Magic with Scott Beal

Language is one of the only literal magics we know; with a string of words we make impossible things happen in other people’s heads, and by extension, in the world. In this multi-genre workshop we will discuss how poems and stories can transform complex and difficult experience into new visions of reality, and create our own pieces to take readers to places where they could never otherwise go. Along the way we will consider poems and prose by Brigit Pegeen Kelly and others, as well as the picture book Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai.

11:20 am – 12:30 pm – SESSION 2

A. How to Write that Children’s Book You’ve Always Thought You Could with Zibby Oneal

In this workshop we will discuss devising plots and characters in stories for children and how one’s own memories of childhood can contribute to doing this. We’ll talk about writing both for young children and for a young adult audience. I will be pleased to discuss stories that participants in the workshop may have already written and to consider problems they may have encountered in the process. Time permitting, I hope that the participants will do some writing in the workshop, using ideas we have discussed.

B. Yeah, There’s No Place Like Home, But Oz Has Better Club with francine j.harris

Been putting off clicking your proverbial heels in your writing? People have a lot of reasons for not writing about home: weird memories, political heaviness, racialized or culturalized subject matter … sometimes we just think it’s kinda’ boring (Kansas) or overdone (New York). In this workshop we’ll explore some liberating ways to write about where you’re from – and we might just find a place to add in the tornadoes and munchkins.

C. F-KING Hilarious!: Humor as Political Weapon in Poetry & Prose with Kevin Coval

The workshop will canvas contemporary performance histories including the poetry of hip-hop, stand-up comedy and poets of the Black Arts movement (and more) to conduct a multi-genre workshop where participants will use their lives as sites for humor. The comedic greats such as Richard Prior and Lenny Bruce used the political climate and the tragic-comedy of their own lives to create a world of hilarity and depth, critical discourse and popular intrigue. What can writers learn from such strategies? You do not have to be funny to be funny. But can learn to report and notice the ridiculous as obscene. The normal as perverse. Open to all styles, genres and levels of experience.

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm – Lunch Special Lunch Keynote Session: Empowering the Author

Come share sumptuous fare with your fellow attendees and check out a keynote presentation from Adam Mansbach.

Adam Mansbach, author of the viral sensation and bestselling mock children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep!, is also the author of three previous novels including the California Best Book The End of the Jews, a poetry collection, a recently released graphic novel The Nature of the Beast, a screenplay for a movie in production, and a real children’s book based on the mock one, Seriously, Go to Sleep. The movie rights to Go the F**k to Sleep! have also been sold to Fox Searchlight Pictures and he has two new novels under contract. Adam will talk about how the author, as the creator of the art, can assert him/herself as the most important commodity in the publishing equation and effectively advocate for him/herself across different media platforms.

1:50 pm – 3:00 pm – SESSION 3

A. A Return to Intimacy: Taking Back 3rd Person with Steve Amick

This fiction-writing workshop will feature frank talk about how point-of-view choices affect the ability to write frankly in the short story form. Clarifications and bias regarding the properties and short-comings of first person narrative, as it is currently misused and abused. Part tirade, part fun exercises to explore other ways of telling.

B. Creation Myths: Where Fact and Fiction Kaboom with Shira Erlichman

“Biomythography” is a term coined by poet Audre Lorde for a new hybrid genre containing elements of biography, history and myth. It creates a space where authors can play with the boundaries between fact and fiction, where supposed truths are given room to leap and dreams can be held as emotional fact. In this multi-genre workshop we will expand our vision of the truth to allow for myth to shape our reality. Like radical surgeons, we will pull out of the body of a lie the heart of the truth. It’s possible Lorde needed to invent a new genre to express the multidimensionality of living in a world of strict calculators and rulers — in terms of identity, family, and storytelling itself. Biomythography can be a tool of empowerment wherein the author shapes his/her life story according to imagination’s colorful calculator and the heart’s endless rule-breaking.

C. Image-Voice-Stakes: A Constellation with Aaron McCollough

This workshop will approach poetic anatomy through a fairly straightforward heuristic. Confronted with a piece of writing, we will ask ourselves what seems to be “at stake” in the poem, how voice is (or is not) produced in the poem, how image is produced in the poem (what sensedata does it provide/rely on). Once we have a sense of an answer to these questions, we will ask how the elements work together or against each other. We will assume that each author is interested in submitting her/his work for this kind of scrutiny. We will also assume that our mutual critical attentions will be good-humored and capacious with regard to question of style, focused on what each poem sets out for itself as an ideal constellation of image-voice-stakes.

Featured Writers

Jess Kass

Jess_Kass Jeff Kass teachers Creative Writing and English Literature at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor MI and at Eastern Michigan University. In addition, he is the Literary Arts Director at Ann Arbor’s Teen Center The Neutral Zone. He is the author of the award-winning poetry chapbook Invisible Staircase; the award-winning essay chapbook From the Front of the Room; the one-man performance poetry show Wrestle the Great Fear; the teaching guidebook Underneath: The Archaeological Approach to Teaching Creative Writing; and the short story collection Knuckleheads, which has been selected as a finalist by ForeWord Magazine as 2011’s Best Short Fiction Collection of the Year.

Roger Bonair-Agard

Roger_Bonair_AgardRoger Bonair-Agard is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and author of two collections of poems: tarnish and masquerade (Cypher Books, 2006) and GULLY (Cypher Books, Peepal Tree Press 2010). A Cave Canem fellow, Roger is a 2-time National Poetry Slam Champion and co-founder and Artistic Director of New York’s louderARTS Project. Roger is an MFA candidate in the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. He teaches at Fordham University in NYC and the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago. He is poet-in-residence at Young Chicago Authors.

Angel Nafis

Angel_NafisAngel Nafis is an Ann Arbor, Michigan native where she resided as the VOLUME youth poetry projects Poet in Residence at the Neutral Zone Teen Center for two years. She represented Ann Arbor in the Brave New Voices festival two years in a row as a member of the Youth Slam Team which performed on the final stages at the San Francisco Opera House and the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Her work can be stumbled upon in FOUND Magazine’s Requiem for a Paper Bag, Decibels, GirlSpeak Webzine, The Bear Rivers Writing Conference Online Magazine, and MUZZLE Magazine. In 2011 she represented the LouderArts poetry project at both the Women of the World Poetry Slam and the National Poetry Slam. She is an Urban Word NYC Mentor. Her chapbook BlackGirl Mansion will be released through Red Beard Press in 2012. She currently curates and hosts a poetry reading series in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Scott Beal

scott_bealScott Beal’s poems have appeared recently in The Collagist, Indiana Review, Dunes Review, and in a split book with Rachel McKibbens and Aracelis Girmay entitled Jangle the Threads (Red Beard Press, 2010). He earned his MFA in 1996 from the University of Michigan. He teaches poetry and fiction workshops at the Neutral Zone and 826michigan, and serves as a writer-in-the-schools for Dzanc Books in Ann Arbor and for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit. He recently co-authored Underneath: The Archaeological Approach to Creative Writing with Jeff Kass (Red Beard Press, 2011). His manuscript Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems was a 2012 finalist for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize from Pleiades Press.

Zibby Oneal

zibby_onealZibby Oneal was born and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska during World War II. The first children’s book she published was set in that place and at that time. During childhood she was constantly making up stories about the War for herself and her younger sister. In high school she started writing short stories, mainly about the pains of unrequited love. At Stanford University and subsequently at Michigan she took a lot of creative writing classes and graduated with a BA.

For a time she was a lecturer in the English department at the U of M. Since, she has concentrated on writing fiction and has published nine books intended for children and young adults. She’s married, has two children and three grandchildren and is presently leading a group involved in memoir writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

francine j.harris

francine_j_harrisfrancine j. harris is a Zell Postgraduate Creative Writing Fellow living in Ann Arbor. She has recent work appearing in Rattle, Callaloo, Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and her first collection, allegiance, is part of the Made in Michigan Writers Series on Wayne State University Press. Originally from Detroit, she is a Cave Canem fellow and received her MFA from the University of Michigan.

Kevin Coval

kevin_covalKevin Coval is author of L-vis Lives! (Haymarket Books, 2011), Everyday People and Slingshots (A Hip-Hop Poetica), named a Book of the Year finalist by the American Library Association. Coval has been called “the voice of the new Chicago” by Rick Kogan of The Chicago Tribune and is one of the most widely read poets in the country. He has performed in seven countries on four continents, toured the country, appeared on four seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and is Co-Founder of Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, the largest youth poetry festival in the world, which is the subject of the award-winning documentary by the same name. Coval is the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors and teaches at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Adam Mansbach

adam_mansbachAdam Mansbach, author of the viral sensation and bestselling mock children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep!, is also the author of three previous novels including the California Best Book The End of the Jews, a poetry collection, a recently released graphic novel The Nature of the Beast, a screenplay for a movie in production, and a real children’s book based on the mock one, Seriously, Go to Sleep. The movie rights to Go the F**k to Sleep! have also been sold to Fox Searchlight Pictures and he has two new novels under contract. Adam will talk about how the author, as the creator of the art, can assert him/herself as the most important commodity in the publishing equation and effectively advocate for him/herself across different media platforms.

Steve Amick

steve_amickSteve Amick has published two novels with Pantheon/Random House, The Lake, the River & the Other Lake and Nothing But a Smile, both Michigan Notable Books. His shorter work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Playboy, The Southern Review, Story, Five Chapters, The New England Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, on National Public Radio, as well as anthologies like the recent Ghost Writers: Us Haunting Them. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University but has also dabbled in plays in Chicago, won a Clio for advertising, and putzed around with songwriting. Most recently, his story in The Michigan Quarterly Review received the Lawrence Foundation Award for the best fiction of 2011.

Shira Erlichman

shira_erlichmanShira Erlichman is a nationally acclaimed poet, fiction writer, musician and artist. A Pushcart Prize nominee who has toured the country with some of the nation’s leading performers and writers, her prolific and unique style has brought her acclaim as “one of the most original and compelling voices in performance poetry.” Her poetry has been featured in NARAL’s National Pro-Choice campaign Free.Will.Power, as well as set to motion by the dancers of the Sound Dance Company. Her award-winning music has appeared in multiple independent films, and on NPR and national TV. She has shared stages with Ani Difranco, TuNe-YaRds and Coco Rosie. She has been independently recording and releasing her records for over 10 years. Born in Haifa Israel and raised in Brookline MA, she now lives in Brooklyn NY.

Aaron McCollough

aaron_mccolloughAaron McCollough was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is the Librarian for English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan’s Hatcher Graduate Library. He holds a PhD in English Literature from Michigan and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fifth book of poems, Underlight, is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in November.