Young Writers Conference

Date: Friday, November 14, 2014

Time: 9:00AM-3:00PM

Location: University Center, University of TN at Martin

Cost: $10 for students; $20 for teachers/chaperones


Registration must be received by November 7, 2014!


Registration for Students

Registration for Teachers/Chaperones


The conference is sponsored by the UT Martin Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages.


This one-day conference, designed primarily for students in grades 9-12, offers a series of writing workshops taught by UT Martin faculty and visiting poet and writer, Leslie LaChance. Students can attend hands-on workshops in writing poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as songwriting, literary and film analysis, and writing resumes and letters of application. We are also again pleased this year to offer a special workshop for teachers sponsored by the West Tennessee Writing Project. This year’s faculty session will focus on creating and maintaining a student writing club. Other events include a luncheon, a keynote address by Leslie LaChance, and an open-mic reading for students. Students will have an opportunity to read works created during the conference, or other original writing created at home or in school. Throughout the day students will create pieces of writing, connect with other young writers from the region, and learn from outstanding writers and teachers of writing. The conference is sponsored by the UT Martin Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages with help from the West Tennessee Writing Project.


The conference fee is $10 for students and $20 for teachers and includes all workshops, readings, and lunch. The conference is open to outstanding students recommended by their teachers on the basis of academic achievement and artistic promise. Teachers are encouraged, but are not required, to attend along with their students. We do ask that recommending teachers follow their school’s policies in arranging for parent/guardian permissions for students who will be attending the conference.


Registration is limited to 150 participants on a first come, first served basis. Registration forms must be received by Friday, November 7th, along with payment for the conference registration fee. Participants may register online by following the links above for Registration for Students or Registration for Teachers/Chaperones.


8:30-9:00 Check in & Registration, Watkins Auditorium Lobby, Boling University Center
9:00-10:30     Concurrent Workshop Sessions
Getting the Details Right: Sense, Memory, and Imagination
Courting the Muse
Really, What Can You Say About a Poem?
Thinking, Feeling Writing About Place
Resumes: Your Key to Gainful Employment
Visual Inspiration
10:45-12:15 Concurrent Workshop Sessions
Writing for the Fun of It: How to Create and Maintain a Student Writing Club (teachers only)
Writing Effective Letters of Application
What 1000 Words is a Picture Worth?: Writing About Film
Word Weaving
We Wrote it Together: A Collaborative-Writing Exploration
Creative Nonfiction: The Fourth Genre
12:30-1:45 Lunch and Keynote Address by Leslie LaChance
2:00 - 3:00 Open Mic., Room 111, University Center, First Floor


Workshop Session 1  9:00-10:30

Getting the Details Right: Sense, Memory, and Imagination-Leslie LaChance

In this mixed-genre workshop, we’ll look at how memory, imagination, and the five senses can provide the raw materials for our writing. Participants will create a series of “sensory snapshots” of a moment, drawing both on lived experience and on the imagination. We’ll strive to make these short texts in prose and poetry rich in compelling detail. By the end of the workshop, each student will have completed several pieces, which, when read together, will narrate that moment from different perspectives, creating a sort of literary collage.


Courting the Muse: A Songwriter’s Workshop-David Carithers

This session will explore the ingredients of a great song, with a focus on lyrics and structure. Carithers will briefly share one of his original songs, discuss his creative influences, and offer advice to aspiring songwriters. Then participants will have time to create new songs or revise material they are working on and share with the group. Since the focus is on the written and spoken word, no musical background is required. If you like poetry, songs, and writing, and would like time to create/revise some of your own and share with a supportive audience, you will enjoy this session. A limited number of instruments will be available (i.e., one or two guitars, a tambourine, etc.), so students are encouraged to bring their own.


Really, What Can You Really Say About a Poem, Anyway?-Chris Hill

Have you finished reading a poem and been left wondering how to make sense of it—only to hear someone else say it was about something that had never crossed your mind? Is the chance to read and write about poetry a chance for you to run hide yourself away? Put your fears of the poetic behind you! This workshop will focus on how to take hold of a poem and produce a clear analysis of it. Students will read a selection of short pieces, talk about how to make sense of poetry’s compact language, and finally produce their own analyses to be models for the next time poetry rears its head.


Thinking, Feeling, and Writing about a Place: The New Martin Luther King Memorial-Tim Hacker

A visitor to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, will learn nothing about the war in Vietnam. There is no map to locate Vietnam in the world; no names or dates of battles; no information about the military units that served there, and when. Yet the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is spectacularly successful. Why? As architecture critic Robert Campbell says, “the purpose of a memorial isn’t memory; memory we can get from books. It’s catharsis”—the emotional jolt we get from art. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial teaches us to feel something new about the war.


This presentation will use computer technology, especially still photographs, video clips, and animations, to learn how the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—which is, after all, “one simple, single, unforgettable thing”—creates a sense of catharsis in the visitor. Then we’ll apply what we’ve learned—first by talking, then by writing—to the brand new Martin Luther King Memorial.


Resumes: Your Key to Gainful Employment-Trisha Capansky

At this point in your life, the most important form of technical communication that you’ll be writing is your resume. Think about it. That single sheet of paper can determine what kind of car you drive, neighborhood you live in, clothes you wear, food you eat, vacations you take, and the overall quality of life you have. You submit a resume because you are looking for a particular position within a particular profession, right? Well, if the reader (i.e., your potential employer) rejects the resume for whatever reason, you won’t be called in for an interview. Thus, there goes you chance at getting the job! This session will provide you with tips on resume development.


Visual Inspiration-Misty Dunlap

Do you like to write but have a hard time coming up with inspiration? Why not try writing poetry to describe a visual artwork, such as a photograph, painting, or sculpture? Modern ekphrastic poetry can go even further by giving the artwork a story or an imagined expansion of its meaning. You will be collaborating, in a sense, with the artist. In this workshop, we will look at examples of ekphrastic poetry and team up with BeanSwitch, UT Martin’s art and literary magazine, by looking at artwork from past issues for students to find inspiration for their own writing. Students should expect to leave with a first draft of a poem.


Workshop Session 2: 10:00AM-12:15PM


Writing for the Fun of It: How to Create and Maintain a Student Writing Club - Tiana Page and other WTWP Teacher Consultants

Are your students interested in writing outside the classroom, perhaps with a group of peers? Presented by Teacher-Leaders of the West Tennessee Writing Project who have created and successfully maintained student writing clubs, this session will reveal the challenges and rewards that both teachers and students face in such endeavors. This session is sponsored by the West Tennessee Writing Project, and is only for the teachers in attendance at the conference.


Writing Effective Letters of Application-Lynn Alexander

Are the activities and programs you want to participate in asking you for a letter of application? Are you beginning your college applications? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you will want to attend this session. We will be looking at how to shape the message in a letter to capture the reader’s interest and persuade her that you are a great candidate. We will also look at how to highlight strengths and downplay weaknesses. We will study examples and even practice writing parts of the letter.


What 1000 Words is a Picture Worth?: Writing About Film-Jeff Longacre

From Homer€'s The Odyssey to Mark Twain'€™s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to vision quests, walkabouts, and motorcycle journeys spanning continents, the idea of the journey into truth appears again and again in folktales, history, and literary works. After an exciting overview of the journey theme (much group participation), each workshop participant will create a character to start on a Corps-of-Discovery journey through landscape, space, and time. Join us at the trailhead!


Word Weaving, A Poetry Workshop-Anna Clark

The poem,” wrote Wallace Stevens, “refreshes the world.” Inspired by Stevens’ idea that words are a way of expanding the senses, of discovering things and of making them new, participants in this energy-filled workshop will read several poems from Kenneth Koch’s and Kate Farrell’s anthology Sleeping on the Wing and will write original poems inspired by their reading. The general workshop goal will be for each writer to "weave" three refreshingly original pieces. Raise high your pens and pencils and gather in this workshop at the Young Writers Conference to explore, experiment, and create!


We Wrote it Together: A Collaborative-writing Exploration-Heidi Huse

Everyone hates collaborative projects. Well, let’s have some fun writing with other writers for a change, to see how merging your own creative genius with others’ words can sometimes soar beyond what you might have crafted individually. You’ll have a chance to write with classmates, friends, or teachers, as well as with total strangers. And the sky’s the limit for what you can write with others in this workshop: poetry, a short story, a persuasive essay or inspiring speech, and/or even a one-act screenplay! Then you and your artistic co-creator(s) will have the opportunity to share your work together at the open-mic session after lunch.


Creative Nonfiction: The Fourth Genre-Jenna Wright

Many are calling creative nonfiction the “emerging genre” in creative writing. In this creative nonfiction session, you will learn about between nonfiction and creative nonfiction, as well as the issues of truth, creativity, and responsibility to audience. You will explore tips on the craft of writing creative nonfiction, hear published and award-winning creative nonfiction read, and write and share your own "short" creative nonfiction. You should leave this session with at least one original creative nonfiction draft and a motivation to continue writing.


Guest Author

Leslie LaChance teaches literature and writing at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. Formerly on the faculty at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Leslie was one of the founders of the UTM Young Writers Conference. Her poems have appeared in a number of periodicals, and her collection, How She Got that Way, was published in 2013 by Toadlily Press in the chapbook quartet Mend & Hone. She is an assistant editor with Sundress Publications, and a founding editor of Mixitini Matrix: A Journal of Creative Collaboration.


Workshop Leaders

Lynn Alexander currently serves as the Dean of College of Humanities and Fine Arts. She teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature, women’s literature, and literary theory. Before earning her Ph.D. she worked as a technical writer for Murray Jones Murray Engineers and as an associate editor for Continental Heritage Press. She also has worked as a freelance technical writer for American Airlines and IPS Engineers.


Trisha Capansky teaches in the fields of technical communication, business writing, and English composition. Before entering academia, Capansky’s career involved working for several newspapers as a government reporter, and more recently as an urban planner for a municipality.


David Carithers is an Associate Professor of English, teaching at UTM since 2004. David received an M.A. from Western Carolina University in 2000 and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2004. He is Director of the West Tennessee Writing Project, has published essays on music and rhetoric, and enjoys making music with friends.


Anna Clark, who views teaching, writing, reading, and travel as creative acts, is a faculty member in the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages at The University of Tennessee at Martin, where she also serves as co-coordinator of the Hortense Parrish Writing Center. She earned the M.A. in English from The University of Missouri and has done additional graduate work at The University of Mississippi. She teaches composition and literature courses at UT Martin and is a traveler who has led numerous UT Martin-sponsored travel-study experiences. She loves being a part of gatherings when writers are “on fire” with creative ideas.


Misty Dunlap works as a writing consultant at UT Martin’s Hortense Parrish Writing Center. She has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a M. Ed. in interdisciplinary education with a concentration in English from UT Martin. She is an award-winning writer who especially enjoys poetry. Her works have been published in Bean Switch, UT Martin’s art and literary magazine, and Mixitini Matrix, an online journal of creative collaboration. She wrote her first ekphrastic poem in a writing class taught by today’s speaker, Dr. LaChance.


Tim Hacker has been around language and foreign language all his life. His mother was the child of immigrants, and she grew up speaking German at home. Tim himself majored in Spanish and Portuguese as an undergraduate. He began his career teaching English as a Second Language with the Peace Corps in Thailand, where he became quite adept at Thai, and in Sri Lanka, where he learned a little bit of Sinhala and Tamil. For the past 19 years he has taught English Composition, the last nine of them at the University of Tennessee at Martin.


Chris Hill has been at UTM for nine years, teaching Shakespeare and lot of other old (and really good) books. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of North Carolina in 2005. He and his spouse have three young boys and live in a house that appears to be shrinking every day.


Heidi Huse has been teaching writing and rhetoric courses in the UT Martin Department of EMFL for 13 years. Her own writing centers in persuasive essays and rhetorical analysis, and she is currently completing a book on women’s and second amendment gun rhetorics. She also has two active blogs, one of which is personal reflective essays. Heidi is an avid peace and animal advocate and a vegan. She supports recycling, community gardening and sustainable living on campus and in the local community.


Jeff Longacre teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and Irish Literature. He has served as project manager of the Modernist Journals Project, an online, fully searchable, digital archive of modernist periodicals; and as the book review editor of the James Joyce Quarterly. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Honors Program at UT Martin. In addition to William Blake and James Joyce in particular, his scholarly and teaching interests include modernism, Irish literature, romanticism, and film.


Tiana Page teaches 11th grade American Literature at Riverside High School in Decaturville, TN. She has previously taught 6-8 grade English, Social Studies, and Reading. She teaches a developmental writing course at Jackson State Community College part-time and has taught website creation through UT Martin Parsons Center. She is a Youth and Community Programs Coordinator for WTWP, planning and leading young writers’ workshops. She holds a B.A. from UT Martin in Criminal Justice and Education. She is passionate about her family and her students, making it her mission to encourage both to succeed in life!


Jenna Wright teaches fiction and creative nonfiction workshops at UT Martin. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing. Her writings have been featured in several publications, including Tennessee English Journal, Kentucky English Bulletin, Southern Discourse, Poetry Analysis: Understanding and Critiquing Poetry, and Calliope, as well as the creative writing anthology Flashlight Memories. She has presented her creative writing at conferences throughout the Southeast. Wright is Chair of the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages at UT Martin.

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