• Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference

2015 Young Writers Conference

  • Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference
  • Young Writers Conference

UT Martin

Young Writers Conference

13 November 2015 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Boling University Center


Students- Register Here!

Teachers/Chaperones- Register Here!


This one-day conference, designed for students in grades 9-12, offers a series of writing workshops taught by UT-Martin faculty and visiting author Dana Carpenter (http://www.danachambleecarpenter.com). Students can attend workshops in writing poetry, fiction, songwriting, and writing in different academic disciplines. Other events include a luncheon, a reading by Dana Carpenter from her new novel Bohemian Gospel (Parnasus Books 2015), and an open mic reading for students who wish to share their own work. Throughout the day students will have the opportunity to create pieces of writing, to connect with other young writers from the region, and to learn from professional writers, authors, and teachers.


The conference registration fee of $12 for students and $25 for teachers includes all workshops, luncheon, and keynote reading. The conference is open to outstanding students recommended by their teachers on the basis of academic achievement and artistic promise.


This year teachers have the opportunity to earn 6 hours toward Continuing Education Units by attending faculty development workshops being offered through the West Tennessee Writing Project and the University of Tennessee at Martin College of Education.


As in past years, we do ask that recommending teachers follow their school policies in arranging for parent/guardian permissions for students who will be attending the conference.


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


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Student Workshops- Session I, 9:00-10:30

Beyond Here Be Dragons: Writing to Discover—Dana Chamblee Carpenter

As readers we want stories to take us places; so too as writers should we be willing to go where the story leads us. Sometimes this means anchoring deep to reveal hidden elements of story. Sometimes it means traveling far and wide, literally or virtually, to explore place and time. In this session we will go a-wandering using our senses and Web-based research to travel the threads of a story and see what we can discover. Students will develop original characters and setting for a story while learning techniques for enhancing their work through research. We will share our discoveries at the end of the session.


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.


Hearing Voices—Leslie LaChance

In this workshop, we will focus on voice and persona in poetry. We’ll study how poets create specific kinds of speakers and personae, reading the work of Kevin Young, Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Browning, Langston Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, and Susan Donnelly as models. We’ll also consider how poets develop their own unique voices as individual artists. Participants will experiment with several writing exercises aimed at developing voice, and we’ll work toward creating a good draft of a poem written with a persona as a speaker. In the process, we’ll discover how listening for and capturing voices of different personae can teach us how to become more empathetic readers and writers, and how that, in turn, helps us to develop greater range in our writing voice.


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 practice writing parts of the letter.


In Just a Few Words: Discovering and Writing Microstories—Anton Garcia-Fernandez

Microstories (or microrrelatos) have been very prominent in Latin American and Spanish literature in the second half of the twentieth century, and they have influenced other literary traditions as well. A mixture between narrative and poetry, these microstories challenge writers to say as much as possible in as few words as possible. In this workshop, students will read and learn about microstories in English and will engage in creative activities related to this fascinating genre, as well as getting the chance to produce their own microstories. Come and experience the endless possibilities that just a few words can have!


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

A good film review can lure you into or keep you out of the theatre, but what really makes for insightful writing about visual images? Among other things, writing well about film means being able to understand what we see on the screen. In this workshop we’ll look at some famous scenes from movies we probably all know, and we’ll talk about how those scenes are constructed to create the effects they have on us. Then we’ll discuss some approaches and strategies for writing about visual images and analyze a scene or two on our own.


Collaborative Revision and Peer Response—Tiffany Emerson

Often we have what we believe is a great piece of writing, yet we are not sure if the piece is effective to potential readers. That is when the input of our peers can be useful. In this workshop, participants will have an opportunity to write a creative personal piece and get an opportunity to learn how to look at others’ writing in peer revision for clarity and interest and to give feedback as a reader. They will be given opportunities to practice these skills so that they can develop techniques of revising their own works--as well as giving constructive criticism to fellow writers.


Student Workshops- Session II, 10:45-12:15

Whodunit: How to Write a British Murder Mystery—Erin Garcia-Fernandez

Do you love the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Wilkie Collins, and the like? Do you watch Masterpiece Mystery regularly? Are you a fan of Gosford Park or Clue? Then this is the workshop for you! Come find out about the conventions of this suspenseful genre and its forebears, including the sensation novel. Learn how to identify and integrate elements of plot, setting, characterization, theme, and formal style to develop the beginnings of your own twisting whodunit. Whether you are interested in writing the next Sherlock Holmes novel, a script for dinner theatre, or simply the basic plot of your own murder-mystery party, this workshop will get you started. As part of a group crime scenario, students will write and share their own character testimonies and watch as, with each new perspective, the mystery of writing mysteries unfolds.


Taming The Beast: A Playwriting Workshop—Dr. John Galyean

What makes a play different from a poem, a short story, a novella, or a novel? They’re all “creative writing.” Why is the play a “different beast”? A person who writes plays is called a playwright: Like a wheelwright, or a millwright. A play is made—forged, molded, not just written. A playwright must keep in mind that the script is going to be rendered in space and time, with a group of human beings moving, speaking, and relating to yet another group of human beings. This is not solitary business… So what’s with this Beast? Why is dialogue so hard to write? How do you know when a play script is worth producing? How can you recognize and pick a great play? This workshop will attempt to answer these and other questions about the process of writing for the theatre, staging, and performing your dramatic work.


Autumnal Tints: Writing about Fall—Anna Clark

Writers in this workshop will use “Autumnal Tints, ”Thoreau's great essay about the changing colors of autumn, as inspiration for creating several original works focusing on autumn, a season of brilliant colors and deep reflection. Inspired by nature—just as the Romantic poets and countless others have been—participants will leave this workshop with creative works filled with images of autumn. Other literature for discussion and inspiration may include Percy Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," John Keats' "Ode to Autumn," and Dylan Thomas' "Poem in October." “Autumnal Tints” begins in the university center and may move outside, weather permitting.


Really, What Can You Say About a Poem?—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.


Tales of Traveling—Dr. Lucia Florido

Be it Paris, Tennessee or Paris, France, everybody’s been somewhere. You do not need to cross an ocean to have a story to tell. After all, the way in which a story is told is often more interesting than the place visited. With this in mind, students will look at some examples (from blogs to classics, from funny to philosophical) and consider what makes a compelling travel narrative, create a list of purposes behind travel narratives, and, finally, students will be asked to write and share a travel narrative building on what we have seen and discussed.


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.


“We Wrote it Together”: A Collaborative-writing Exploration—Dr. 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 screen play! Then you and your artistic co-creator(s) will have the opportunity to share your work together at the open-mike session after lunch.


Teacher Workshops

Session I, 9:00-10:30


It’s A W.R.A.P (Writing, Reading, Applying, Presenting)—Dr. Karen S. DiBella

Discover exciting ways to enhance your students’ writing, reading, applying, and presenting skills in this interactive session. This session will delve into various reading and writing strategies that include the integration of technology and can be easily applied in the classroom. Participants will engage in hands-on activities as well as explore various Web 2.0 tools that target student learning while meeting multiple skill-based standards. Participants will receive a Web 2.0 resource guide designed specifically for classroom teachers with many cross-curricular adaptations.


Efficient, Fair, and Effective Techniques for Grading Student Writing—Lana Warren

This session will present ideas for making classroom grading more time-efficient and conducive to learning. Participants will learn and discuss ways to make grading a learning tool for students, as well as how to write assignments in a way that makes them more effective and easier to grade. The workshop leader will provide materials such as rubrics, assignment ideas, stories, and tips, and the participants are encouraged to share their own advice from the trenches.


Session II 10-45-12:15


If You Build It: Teaching Critical Thinking, Communication, and Community through Creative Writing—Dana Chamblee Carpenter

Sometimes creative writing can be a tough pedagogical sell in a STEM and testing driven educational community: what exactly are we “preparing” students for when we teach creative writing? This hands-on workshop will explore how a workshop environment can encourage students to embrace writing as a process and teach them vital critical thinking skills through critique in an encouraging and supportive community. We’ll write and read and re-think conventional critique as we discuss how to use creative writing to teach students skills that will travel with them into their other academic disciplines.


2015 YWC Presenter Biographies

Guest Writer and Speaker


Dana Chamblee Carpenter teaches literature and creative writing at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. Her debut novel, Bohemian Gospel, won Killer Nashville’s 2014 Claymore Award and has been praised as “A grand, thought-provoking adventure in sorrow, joy and magic,” by J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of What Lies Behind. Mark Richard, author of The Ice at the Bottom of the World says, “Like a rushing river, Bohemian Gospel, flows bright, dappled with a patina of legend, and has a current that runs deep and wonderfully dark. The reader will be swept along in this bold debut.” Carpenter’s award-winning short fiction will also be featured in a forthcoming anthology and has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Jersey Devil Press, and Maypop.


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 and business writing. 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 where she regulated land use and developed a cleanup program for blighted residential areas. Capansky’s interest in government also involves the application of nation building through communication platforms. Her studies have led to articles about cellular phone and internet usage in South Sudan, and she has a forthcoming book chapter which expands the study to Uganda.


David Carithers has taught at UT-Martin since 2004 where he is an Associate Professor of English and current Chair of the English and Modern Foreign Language Department at UT-M. David received his M.A. from Western Carolina University in 2000 and a Ph.D. from the University of Carolina 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 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 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 where writers are “on fire” with creative ideas.


Karen S. DiBella moved to Northwest TN in August 2013 from Southwest FL where she taught Intensive Reading for 6+ years in Lee County, FL, the state’s 7th largest district serving over 90,000 students in over 100 schools, representing nearly120 languages. She also served as the Reading Department Chair in a Title I school. Although her undergraduate degree is in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University, she found her true calling when she entered the teaching field. She earned her Master’s in Reading Education, and her Ed.S. and Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Gulf Coast University. Currently, Dr. DiBella is an Assistant Professor of Reading at UT Martin and also serves as the Director of Reading Center.


Tiffany Emerson is currently an adjunct English instructor at the University of Tennessee at Martin and has taught English composition classes for a number of years. In the past, she has also taught ESL classes. Her other past experiences include being an English learning specialist for the TRiO Student Support Services program, a writing center consultant, a substitute teacher in the public schools, and an instructional designer for Savant Learning Systems. She has a M.S. in Secondary Education and a M.A. in English. She likes to read and write (especially poetry), and she enjoys cultural and artistic activities and serving in the community.


John Galyean holds B.A. degrees in Theatre and Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Speech Communication with an emphasis in Theatre from Bowling Green State University. He has taught Theatre courses in colleges and universities in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Tennessee. John has acted and directed in theatre productions of all genres in college, community, and professional companies. In Los Angeles, John performed in film, television, commercials, voiceovers, and improvisational comedy. This past summer, Dr. Galyean wrote a book for children called Musk Ox, Marmot, and Pika, Too, about three of his favorite North American animals on an adventure. In his spare time, he likes to play guitar, sing, draw cartoons, cook and eat Cincinnati-style chili, and binge watch favorite TV series.


Erin Garcia-Fernandez is a Lecturer of English. B.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry), Honors in British Literature, Rhodes College, Memphis, TN; M.A., Ph.D. in British Literature, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Dr. Garcia-Fernandez teaches various courses of composition, as well as literature surveys and upper-division courses on Victorian literature. Her dissertation, “Delicious Plural”: The Editorial ‘We’ in Nineteenth-Century Fiction and Periodicals,” focuses on print culture of the nineteenth century and examines the impact of periodicals’ narrative practices on fiction of the time period. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, learning to garden, and spending time with her husband, Anton, and her daughter, Libby.


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.


Dr. Heidi Huse has been teaching writing and rhetoric courses in the UT Martin Department of EMFL for 15 years. Her own writing centers on persuasive essays and rhetorical analysis. She is currently working on rhetorical analyses of second amendment rhetoric, and women’s gun-centered rhetorics. In 2014 she collaborated with a fellow member of the Peace and Justice Studies Association to write the Association’s position paper “Guns Are Not the Solution to Gender-based Violence.” Heidi is an avid peace and animal advocate and a vegan. She supports civic engagement and sustainable living on campus and in the local community.


Leslie LaChance is an Associate Professor of English at Volunteer State Community College, where she teaches literature and writing courses. In May of 2016, she’ll be teaching World Literature for Volunteer State in Segovia, Spain. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals, and her chapbook, How She Got That Way, was published by Toad Lily Press in 2013. Leslie taught English at UT Martin from 2002-2014, where she was one of the founders of the Young Writers Conference, so she’s very excited to be returning as a workshop leader. When she is not teaching, Leslie’s probably traveling, reading, writing, listening to music, binge watching trashy shows on Netflix, doing yoga, or cycling. If you happen to find her fixing a flat bicycle tire on one of Tennessee’s scenic back roads, please stop and keep her company for a bit.


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.


Lana Warren has been teaching 9th¬–12th grade English for the past 15 years in public schools in west Tennessee. She also teaches composition courses at UT Martin. For the past 14 years, she has been a teacher consultant with the West Tennessee Writing Project, and she is the faculty sponsor for Warriors of the Ink, the student writing organization at Obion County Central High School in Troy, Tennessee.


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