URI sets dates for summer writing conference

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KINGSTON, R.I. –January 20, 2010—The University of Rhode Island will again host its popular Ocean State Summer Writing Conference. This year, URI’s fourth annual conference, will be held June 24, 25, and 26 on the small, lush Kingston campus.

“This is a great opportunity for writers of all ages and talents to enjoy a weekend of lively interaction with professional fiction and non-fiction writers and poets of local, national, and international renown,” said prize-winning poet Peter Covino, assistant professor of English and conference director.

“Our conference continues to have a non-threatening and easygoing, accessible energy,” he continued. “Writing and publishing books are important, of course, but creating a community to help sustain your work and read your books is even more crucial. Attendees have the opportunity to connect with others and develop a network of support.”

A $7,500 grant awarded this month by the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts will go a long way toward building that community.

“We are most grateful to the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts for this generous award,” said Winifred Brownell, dean of the URI College of Arts and Sciences. “In these difficult economic times grants for the arts are fiercely competitive. Rhode Island has so many emerging talented writers who look for direction and advice, something this conference ably provides.

In addition, the Citizens Bank Foundation has provided a $1,000 grant, as part of a larger grant supporting the arts at URI, to help underwrite the conference.

“We also want to thank Citizens Bank Foundation for helping URI make the arts accessible to the community. Rhode Island has always been a place where creativity is prized. Building and sustaining a writing community is integral to the state’s vibrant culture,” the dean said.

Half of the art council’s grant will be used for scholarships to allow local residents and writers to attend the conference for free. The rest will fund the coordinator’s position, and two community interns who will assist in promoting the conference and the READ/WRITE Series, which brings established writers to Rhode Island and provides an opportunity to feature local talent during three, free public events each academic semester. That series recently received generous support from URI 1964 alumnus Mark Ross and his wife Donna.

The summer conference features readings, panels, seminars, and workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and publishing. Attendees can also reserve a mentorship session with visiting writers that will allow them to discuss and review their manuscript one on one. These workshops provide beginning and advanced writers and poets the opportunity to hone their skills in small, intimate settings. In-class writing exercises, reading, and generous feedback from a professional in the field are part of the mix.

To date about 573 aspiring writers have attended conferences. The conference has attracted more than 85 presenters.

URI frequently seeks feedback from participants to help shape the conference and writers’ needs. Here are some comments from past participants:

• “For the second year in a row, I was blown out of the water by the speakers and the energy in “Little Rest.*” Breadloaf, your days are numbered. THANKS to everyone who conjures up this Kingston miracle every year.

* the former name of Kingston

• “I’m a well-published writer with a master’s in creative writing and a published a book. So did I really need another writing conference, or to sit in another workshop? Would I learn anything new? Absolutely! David Masello — a New York glossy magazine editor, essayist and poet — was just the kind of teacher I needed, working right at the center of the markets where I want to publish. I also did a one-on-one mentorship with him that was tremendously helpful. He not only offered me a valuable critique, but suggested sending my essay to publications I wouldn’t have thought of.”

• “I’m at a beginner level in writing but this conference is for any writer at any level. A career in writing seemed like something impossible, but by the end of the weekend, I felt that with passion, education, and perseverance anyone could do this. The support and encouragement from the staff and panelists were more than I could have ever imagined.”

• “The best conference yet! Congratulations and thank you! Now, I’ll get off Facebook and back to my writing!”

• “The weekend conference was the best yet…one of my friends from Brown sent me a message today thanking me for pushing her to attend. Seems it jump-started her writing again. And her email to me was the longest and most intense I have every received. Wow! “

• Some exciting news — I just got my first request for a full manuscript of my novel. I owe you a big thank-you for the dialogue class, which was of direct use to me in my revision…I applied the principles from your class — misdirection, silence, and repetition — and also realized there was a lot of unnecessary dialogue I could summarize in narrative.

For more information about the 2010 Ocean State Summer Writing Conference and the READ/WRITE Series, contact the URI English Department at 401.874.5931 or www.uri.edu/artsci/eng/. The writing conference is also online at www.uri.edu/summerwriting/ and on FaceBook at