This year’s annual Ocean State Summer Writing Conference at the University of Rhode Island Â promises more sessions, more readers and events for all ages from June 18 to June 20. The conference is held for young adult writers who are passionate about the art of creative writing, where they can work towards enhancing their creative writing skills, share and read other participants work and listen to distinguished keynote speakers.
“This is the ninth annual Ocean State Summer Writing Conference and continuing with the tradition of extraordinary presenters this year two female, prizewinning, published writers have been selected to lead the summit as keynote speakers,” Michelle Caraccia, graduate program administrator in the English department said. Â Â Tracy K. Smith, a distinguished Pulitzer Prize Winner for her poetry, alongside Antonya Nelson, a New York Times Notable Author, will be presenting on the June 19.
The Ocean State Writing Conference started off with a smaller audience and a few local writers from the New England area; It has grown into a well-recognized, multifaceted summit containing panels, master classes, craft sessions, and keynote presentations.
Smith, born in Massachusetts, received her degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. The esteemed poet has received many awards, some including the Cave Canem Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and is most well known for her poetry collection entitled “Life on Mars.” While she has taught at several universities and colleges, in 2005 she joined the staff at Princeton University, where she is a professor of Â creative writing. Â Smith will be the third Pulitzer Prize Winner to speak at the Ocean State Writing Conference.
Antonya Nelson, a Kansas native is Â known for her many short stories and has been published in Esquire, The New Yorker and other magazines. New York Times Book Review has named several of her books on their Notable Books list and was deemed one of the “20 best young fiction writers in America today” by The New Yorker. Currently, Nelson does not spend time writing, but spent teaching in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, as well as teaching the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program.
When registering for the conference there are many options to select from, each option more encompassing than the other. There are many activities happening in these three days making it important that one signs up for whatever sessions they wish to attend as there is limited and reserved space in some of the classes. While the writing conference is a remarkable opportunity and a huge learning experience for writers to really develop their skills and to learn from published authors, the cost of admission can be very steep, especially for a starving writer. This is why even the most basic option for registration contains at the very least the keynote presentations and several panels, so that everyone has the opportunity to listen to the speakers and practice their own writing.
There is an optional three-day workshop in the premium registration which offers partakers the chance to share their work and receive feedback and constructive criticisms from the instructor and peers also participating in the conference over the course of the three days. But even if one cannot afford this option there is still the Main Conference which allows participants to listen to writers, explore new styles of writing, participate in writing exercises, receive prompts to explore, learn about the publishing process and focus on one’s own writing career.
Caraccia said that “this summer, Jim Taricani, who has spent many years in the broadcast reporting industry, will be instructing a journalism workshop.”
Due to the mature content discussed within the conference’s workshops, attendees must be 18 years or older to register, however this year to truly include everyone there will be an event for writers of any and all ages to hone their craft.
Caraccia explained that “different from previous years, there will be a Saturday afternoon festival with events for aspiring young writers, such as craft sessions for fiction and poetry, a story teller, as well as a session on storytelling and owning your words.”
These are all important skills for young writers to practice, “owning your words is about teaching young writers how to present their work to an audience in a dynamic and captivating way,” Caraccia said.
The lineup for this year is filled with award winning writers that are being brought in to speak and prove that with each year the conference grows more and more prestigious.
Michelle Caraccia says the conference is in for “another dynamic year.”