URI offers creative writing courses, conference

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KINGSTON, R.I. –April 4, 2007—The English Department at the University of Rhode Island is offering five creative writing courses during the summer sessions with an eye to expanding its creative writing program to include a low-residency master of fine arts degree.

Under the leadership of poet Peter Covino, a recently hired assistant professor of English, URI will launch its Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, June 22 and 23, which is intended for the novice and advanced writer. It will feature workshops, panel discussions, craft talks, and readings on the Kingston campus.

The pilot conference is linked to the summer creative writing courses, offered through the Feinstein College of Continuing Education. Three of the courses will be conducted on-line, the other two will be in classroom settings. The courses will be taught by award-winning poets and fiction writers Amity Gaige, Talvikki Ansel, Rachel May, and Melissa Hotchkiss, as well as by non-fiction writer Celest Martin, URI professor of writing.

“Southern Rhode Island is the perfect place to host a conference of this sort,” said Jean Walton, chair of URI’s English Department. “There is already so much writing talent in Southern New England, and participants from out of town may take advantage of inexpensive housing arrangements (new campus dorms), conference activities, as well as nearby beaches, Newport, and other summer activities on the Sunday following the conference.”

The conference is scheduled to be held about halfway through the online summer term. Students will get an opportunity to meet with their online instructor for more intensive face-to-face workshops during pre-conference programming. While enrollment is already under way, there are still seats available in the following courses: ENG 205 Creative Writing: Poetry (online); ENG 305 Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction (face-to-face); ENG 499 Senior Seminar in Creative Writing and Publishing (online) and ENG 601, a graduate seminar in Creative Writing: Nonfiction (face-to-face).

Non-matriculating or returning students may register for any of the courses, with permission of instructor. Tuition includes the cost of conference participation.

However, you do NOT have to be enrolled in a course to participate in the conference. Adults of all ages, backgrounds, and abiltities who want a taste of the world of creative writing and publishing or to be inspired can register for the conference.

The conference features Pulitzer Prize nominees Karen Brennan, author of five books, including a memoir, Being With Rachel and J.D. McClatchy, editor of The Yale Review and author of five poetry books, including Hazmat.

The program also offers workshops run by established and emerging writers, many of whom teach at URI, including Professor Mary Cappello whose newest book, Awkward: A Detour, will be out in June and Amity Gaige, author of O My Darling, who was chosen by the National Book Foundation as of one of its “5 Under 35” program. The New York Times best-selling suspense author Lisa Gardner will share how it’s done and fiction writer James Morrison, whose novel, The Lost Girl, will appear in the summer, will read from his work.

“If the conference is a success, the Department of English will pursue its plans to expand the existing creative writing emphasis, and to move toward a low-residency or full-fledged M.F.A. program,” said Walton. “We believe that a program of this nature will provide a much needed complement to the existing M.F.A. program at Brown University, and will serve a different population of fledgling writers.”

For the conference schedule, a list of participants and a link to the registration site, go to the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference.

For more information contact Walton at jwalton@uri.edu or Peter Covino at pacovino@aol.com or phone 874-5931.