Young Writers Conference


Young Writers Conference

Once upon a time...


Coming Fall 2014

Boling University Center

UT Martin

Martin, TN  38238


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




This one-day conference, designed for students in grades 9-12, offers a series of writing workshops taught by UT Martin faculty and visiting poet Heather Dobbins. Students

can attend hands-on workshops in writing poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as

songwriting, book binding, and collaborative writing. This year we are pleased to add a special workshop for teachers on using creative writing to meet common core standards, sponsored by the West Tennessee Writing Project. Other events include a luncheon, a reading by visiting poet Heather Dobbins, and an open mic reading for students. Students will have the 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 registration fee is $10 for students and $20 for teachers and includes all workshops, readings and a luncheon. 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 policies in arranging for parent/guardian permissions for students who will be attending the conference.


Registration is limited to 100 participants on a first come, first served basis. Registration

forms must be received by October 31st, along with payment for the conference registration fee.


8:30-9:00 Check in & Registration, Watkins Auditorium Lobby, Boling University Center
9:00-10:30     Concurrent Workshop Sessions
Courting the Muse: A Songwriters Workshop - David Carithers
Flash Fiction - €“Jenna Wright
Literary Confrontation Survival Techniques -€“ John Glass
Thinking, Feeling, and Writing about a Place -€“ Tim Hacker
More than Just My Story: Personal Writing -€“ Tiffany Emerson
Writing Poems About Art -€“ Will Flowers
10:45-12:15 Concurrent Workshop Sessions
The "€œI"€ that Is Not Me: Writing Persona Poems -€“ Heather Dobbins
Creativity and the Common Core -€“ Angela Alomari, Jennifer Brandon
Tiana Page Journeys -€“ Anna Clark
The Bindery -€“ Mattie Davenport
We Wrote It Together: A Collaborative Writing Exploration -€“ Heidi Huse
Writing Down the Bones: A Basic Writing Workshop for Every Skill Level - Beth Walker
12:30-1:45 Lunch and Keynote Reading by Heather Dobbins, University Center Ballroom
2:00 - 3:00 Open Mic Student Reading, Legislative Chamber
Room 111 University Center


This event is sponsored by the University of Tennessee Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages with help from the West Tennessee Writing Project.




Workshop Session I  9:00-10:30

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.


Flash Fiction! - Jenna Wright

Do you have a short short story you want to tell? This flash fiction session is just for you.  Flash fiction typically varies in length from 250 to 1,000 words and is often referred to as "€œshort shorts",€ "€œmicro-fiction",€ or "€œfast fiction".€ In this session, you will explore tips on the craft of writing flash fiction, hear some fiction writers read their published and/or submitted-for-publication flash fiction, and create and share your own flash fiction. You should leave this session with one or more original flash-fiction drafts and a motivation to

continue writing.


Literary Confrontation Survival Techniques: How to Attack a Poem and Live - John Glass

Have you finished reading a poem and been left wondering how to make sense of it?

only to hear someone say it was about something that had never crossed your mind? When you'€™re asked to read and write about poetry would you rather just run and hide?  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, "€œthe 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, "€œone 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.


More Than Just My Story: Personal Writing -€“ Tiffany Emerson

In this workshop, participants will learn about journal writing and how it can be used for various purposes, which include personal, academic, and career aspirations. We will focus on autobiographical and memoir aspects. The participants will explore how writing about their thoughts, feelings, experiences, along with their observations, can help them to explore meanings and make connections. The workshop will introduce aspects of how journal writing can be used for the participants to become more aware of what is going on inside and outside of them and to help them to achieve goals. We will discuss and look at examples of journal writing and then practice and share entries of our own with directed prompts.


Writing Poems about Art€“ - Will Flowers

The Greek word ekphrasis means, literally, a description. But since Homer first described the shield of Achilles in Chapter Eighteen of The Iliad, ekphrastic writing has done more than merely describe a work of visual art, it has sought to rival that art, to imbue it with hidden or potential meanings, to investigate, to find "the €œvoice"€ of a painting, sculpture, etc., and to speak with that voice. In ekphrastic poetry, the written word, the silent image, and the effects of art on the viewer/reader converge and blend. In seeking to describe our visual impressions, we must engage all of our senses, and what we evoke, in ourselves and our readers, may surprise us. In this workshop, we will look at poetry from Homer, to Keats and Rilke, and on to more contemporary authors still working in this form, and students will have their own opportunity to write and share ekphrastic poetry.


Workshop Session II -- 10:45-12:15


The "I"€ That Is Not Me: Writing Persona Poems -€“ Heather Dobbins

Audre Lorde writes, €œ"It is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are--until the poem--nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt." How can writing from another'€™s experience and vantage point free you as a writer? What connection and insights may be gained once we can move beyond the reader'€™s question, "So, did that really happen to you?"€ We'€™ll study some contemporary persona poems for guidance and embark upon our own drafts. Maybe you'€™ll find that we can get closer to the truth by lying with our €"I"€ and lyrical poems, or maybe the "€œI"€ is more universal than you realize. We will discuss strategies for how to make persona poems more authentic and believable as well as ways to access feelings about experiences we have not directly lived (yet).


Creativity and The Common Core -€“ Angela Alomari, Jennifer Brandon, and Tiana Page, Teacher Consultants of the West Tennessee Writing Project

Keeping students motivated and engaged in order to master the common core standards across content areas is a challenge that can be met using familiar strategies that have been updated, strengthened, and differentiated for today'€™s learners. Teacher Consultants of the West Tennessee Writing Project (WTWP) will share creative methods to help students think for themselves within the rubrics of common core. Strategies include interactive journaling, publishing spaces, and graffiti boards. All teachers attending the Young Writers Conference are invited to join this breakout session. 


Journeys -€“ Anna Clark

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!


The Bindery - Mattie Davenport

Having your work bound in book form is something any writer appreciates. The pages,

the cover, the stitching that holds it together - all are part of the millennia-old tradition of book binding. In this workshop, we will explore the parts of a book, how a book is put together, and what choices bookmakers have for making a book unique. You will learn about the modern-day chapbook, a form of hand-made book that is cost-efficient and as easy or complicated as the writer chooses. You will also create your own personalized journal using a common binding technique. Instead of waiting for a publisher to print your book, why not learn how to make unique, hand-made treasures with your work for as little as the cost of printing and paper?


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. After we consider together examples of collaborative artistry, you'€™ll get time 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 collaborative blog or Tweet, a persuasive essay or great 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.


Writing Down the Bones: A Basic Writing Workshop for Every Skill Level -€“ Beth Walker

Ever been told to flesh out your writing with detail, in essence to put some meat on those bones? But that can'€™t happen until you have those bones - €”a basic structure - €”in place. And let'€™s be honest: everybody is back to the basics when facing a blank page. Based on Natalie Goldberg'€™s workshops and bestselling book, Writing Down the Bones, we'€™ll get plenty of practice in the basics - €”freewriting in timed intervals. This workshop is ideal for the slow writer, the perfect writer, the cross-outer, and the now-whater. It'€™s also perfect for the writer who can'€™t stand to be critiqued. As Goldberg says, there is no good or bad; it'€™s just writing. Whatever your attitude or skill-level, Goldberg'€™s techniques will help improve your writing speed and confidence. So come ready to write.


Guest Writer

Heather Dobbins graduated from the College Scholars program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She earned a Master of Education degree from Holy Names University in Oakland, California, with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction. She received the Jane Kenyon scholarship from the Graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College in Vermont, completing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Her poems have been published in TriQuarterly Review, Big Muddy, Chiron Review, New Millennium Writings, Blue Fifth Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology (Tennessee), among others. She has been awarded scholarships and fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center, Napa Writers'€™ Conference, Indiana Writers'€™ Conference, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts'€™ workshop in Auvillar, France.

Heather recently began contributing poetry reviews for The Rumpus and CutBank, and was Beloit Poetry Journal'€™s featured poet for June 2013. Her full-length debut, In the Low Houses, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in early 2014. She has taught middle school and high school for fourteen years in Oakland, California, and Memphis, Tennessee, where she founded River City Scribes, a creative writing workshop for teens, in 2009. She currently resides in her hometown of Memphis with her husband and toddler son.


Workshop Leaders


Angela Alomari teaches reading at Lauderdale Middle School in Ripley, TN. She has a B.A in English Literature from UT Martin and will graduate with her M.S. in Education this December.  Her hobbies include escaping to other places through reading and feeding her bodybuilding husband.


Jenny Brandon teaches 6th - 8th grade Technology and Writing at Lauderdale Middle School. She also taught 2nd grade for fourteen years. As a Teacher Consultant and Technology Liaison for WTWP, she has made numerous presentations in her local district as well as for the National Writing Project and the International Society of Technology in Education. She holds a B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, NY, a M.Ed. from Freed-Hardeman University, an Ed.S. from Union University, and is working toward an Ed.D. at Union University. She is a cat person, although she enjoys other people's dogs.


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 H. Clark 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 received an 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 leads interdisciplinary travel-study experiences primarily to Great Britain, Italy, and France. For sixteen years, Anna served as an advisor for Writers' Guild, a group of UT Martin students and interested community writers who met weekly to write and discuss their work. Her poetry has appeared in state and regional publications.


Mattie Davenport graduated from UT Martin in 2008 with a degree in English. While at UTM, she edited BeanSwitch, the campus literary magazine, and created a new magazine for the campus LGBT group. She earned her master'€™s degree from Oregon State University.  While there, in an effort to have a publication just for the love of a good story (as opposed to many that focused on messages and causes), she started Parhelic Ring, a magazine dedicated to fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She taught freshman composition courses at UT Martin and is now a Student Services Specialist. She works for Mixitini Matrix, an online journal about and for creative collaboration. In her spare time, Mattie produces hand-made books that often showcase local authors and artists.


Tiffany Emerson works at the the University of Tennessee at Martin as an adjunct English instructor and Writing Center consultant. She primarily teaches first-year composition courses and has also taught English as a Second Language classes. She enjoys being involved in service work, traveling, learning about various cultures and aspects of language, teaching, writing, reading, and helping students achieve their goals. She has a M.S. in Education with Secondary English emphasis and a M.A. in English. She enjoys writing poetry in her free time.


Will Flowers received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2010. As a graduate student at UNCW, he taught literature, arts appreciation courses, and poetry workshops. His work has been featured in journals such as Hunger Mountain, Great River Review, Apple Valley Review, and several others, as well as the recent anthologies A Face to Meet the Faces: A Contemporary Anthology of Persona Poetry and the forthcoming Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume IV: Tennessee. He currently works at UT Martin, where splits his  time between administration and teaching first year composition.


John Glass is an Assistant Professor of English in the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He has a Ph.D. in English from Ole Miss and an MA in French from Middlebury College. He has worked as a writer and editor at The Principal Financial Group, lived and taught in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and co-authored The Ultimate Tailgater's Handbook. He is currently completing a book on the poetry of Allen Tate.


Tim Hacker has been around language and foreign language all his life. His mother was the child of an immigrant, 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 22 years he has taught college-level English Composition, the last 14 of them at the University of Tennessee at Martin.


Heidi Huse has been teaching in the UT Martin Department of EMFL for 12 years. Her teaching centers in effective reading response and the art of creating dynamic persuasive and expository writing.  Her own writing centers in persuasive essays and rhetorical analysis, and she has had her writing published both online and in print, including a chapter in a democracy education anthology, an online essay about language, a Peace & Justice newsletter, and a collaborative article with other UT Martin Department of English faculty. As a rhetoric scholar and as an avid peace and animal advocate and a vegan, Heidi also has a blog, "€œPeace Trace"€ on, She currently has two articles under review on public gun rhetoric and on Second Amendment debates.


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 is also teaching an extended course on creating a website this Fall through UT Parsons. She is a Youth & 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!


Beth Walker is a Writing Consultant in the Hortense Parrish Writing Center at UTM. In addition to being a published poet, she has a chapter in a writing textbook forthcoming this year from Macfarland publishing, and she is currently working on chapters for upcoming anthologies about detective fiction as well as about children, literature and digital media. She presents regularly on the work of Natalie Goldberg and on girls'€™ detective fiction.


Jenna Wright is the chair of The Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages at UT Martin, where she teaches fiction and creative nonfiction workshops. She has a B.A., M.S., and M.F.A. in creative writing. She has been honored by the Knoxville Writers Guild with an award for creative nonfiction and by Women Who Write (Louisville, Kentucky) and with an award for poetry in a national competition. Her writings have been featured in several publications, including Tennessee English Journal, Southern Discourse, Poetry Analysis: Understanding and Critiquing Poetry, and Calliope. Jenna recently read her fiction writing “Bagpipes” at the South Central Modern Language Association'€™s Short Story Session in New Orleans.











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