Truth or Dare: Writing Beyond the Boundaries of Form, Genre, Tough Topics & Taboo


Each Fall, MTSU Write celebrates its mission by hosting the Creative Writing Conference on the MTSU campus.  The Conference brings together students, mentors, alumni, and members of the community for learning, networking, and recognizing program graduates.

Below is the information for our 2022 conference. More details to come! Scroll down to save your seat today!

Conference Theme

This year’s conference theme is “Truth or Dare: Writing Beyond the Boundaries of Form, Genre, Tough Topics & Taboo'' and will feature classes and presentations that will invite you to edge out of your comfort zone, be it in terms of writing in a new form or genre or approaching topics that scare you.

Keynote Speaker

We are excited to share that our Fall 2022 Keynote Speaker will be acclaimed writer Sequoia Nagamatsu!

Sequoia Nagamatsu SEQUOIA NAGAMATSU is the author of the National Bestselling novel, HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK (2022), named a New York Times Editors' Choice, as well as the story collection, WHERE WE GO WHEN ALL WE WERE IS GONE (Black Lawrence Press). His work has appeared in publications such as Conjunctions, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, Tin House, Iowa Review, Lightspeed Magazine, and One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, and has been listed as notable in Best American Non-Required Reading and the Best Horror of the Year. He was educated at Grinnell College (BA) and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (MFA), and he teaches creative writing at Saint Olaf College and the Rainier Writing Workshop Low-Residency MFA program. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, the writer Cole Nagamatsu, their cat Kalahira, their real dog Fenris, and a robot dog named Calvino. 

Conference Schedule

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VIRTUAL Programming: Friday, September 23 (10:30am-3pm CST)

 

10:30-Noon (CT):

Introduction to Publishing with Allison Blevins

This class will show you various submission management systems and discuss the submission process. Attendees will leave with an inside look into how editors and publishers evaluate and select work. They will also learn the pros and cons of self-publishing.

Allison BlevinsAllison Blevins is a queer disabled writer. She is the author of the collections Handbook for the Newly Disabled, A Lyric Memoir (BlazeVox, 2022) and Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021). Cataloging Pain (YesYes Books, 2023), a finalist for the Pamet River Prize, is forthcoming. She is also the author of multiple chapbooks. Allison is the Founder and Director of Small Harbor Publishing and the Executive Editor at the museum of americana. She lives in Missouri with her partner and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series. For more information visit allisonblevins.com.

Noon-1:15pm (CT): Readings by graduating MTSU Write students. Please join us in celebrating students who have recently completed our certificate program!

1:30pm-3:00pm (CT): For our afternoon virtual programming, you will be able to choose from among the three following sessions:

 

Introduction to Publishing with Allison Blevins (repeat of 10:30am session), 1:30-3:00pm, CT

This class will show you various submission management systems and discuss the submission process. Attendees will leave with an inside look into how editors and publishers evaluate and select work. They will also learn the pros and cons of self-publishing.

Allison BlevinsAllison Blevins is a queer disabled writer. She is the author of the collections Handbook for the Newly Disabled, A Lyric Memoir (BlazeVox, 2022) and Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021). Cataloging Pain (YesYes Books, 2023), a finalist for the Pamet River Prize, is forthcoming. She is also the author of multiple chapbooks. Allison is the Founder and Director of Small Harbor Publishing and the Executive Editor at the museum of americana. She lives in Missouri with her partner and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series. For more information visit allisonblevins.com.

Owning It: Boldly Telling Your Story with Sheree L. Greer, 1:30-3:00pm CT

While recalling all the details of a particular experience can be challenging, the story of that experience is not impossible to write. It takes courage and creativity to explore the different approaches and implications of memoir writing. In this interactive, generative workshop, writers will explore how memory both inspires and informs memoir writing while (re)discovering the intersections of creative inquiry and lived experience to craft their own bold, resonant stories that are begging to be told.

Sheree L. GreerSheree L. Greer is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women writers and is the author of two novels, Let the Lover Be and A Return to Arms, and the short story collection, Once and Future Lovers. Sheree is a VONA/VOICES alum, Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee, Yaddo fellow, and Ragdale Fellow. Her essay, "Bars" published in Fourth Genre Magazine, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and notably named in Best American Essays 2019.

Hand—Eye Coordination: Sketching and Drawing to Visualize and More Deeply Imagine Objects and Spaces with Adria Bernardi, 1:30-3:00pm CT

Pasting photos on walls, filling your writing room with props—all tried and true ways to enter your story's space and imagine the objects that inhabit it in more detail. In this workshop, Adria Bernardi will explore a tactile and interactive technique to help imagine these objects and spaces more deeply by sketching, drawing, and making diagrams. In this session, she’ll share a passage from her new novel, Benefit Street, and discuss sketches made during the writing process. 

N.B: Participants are asked to identify one brief passage (no more than 500 words) from a work-in-progress, focusing on one particular space or object that they’d like to imagine in more detail. Prior to the class, sketch, draw, or in some way create a visual image of the object or space—without using words. This is NOT about artistic ability, just about interacting with your work through a different medium! We will use time in the workshop to discuss the writers' processes and also to take a few minutes to make some additional sketches.

Adria BernardiAdria Bernardi’s novel, Benefit Street, was awarded the 2021 FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Award, forthcoming from The University of Alabama Press. Her awards include the 1999 Bakeless Prize for Fiction, the 2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and the 2007 Raiziss/DePalchi Translation Award. Her publications include an oral history, a collection of literary essays, a collection of short stories, two novels, and eight translations from the Italian. She has taught fiction-writing at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and a workshop on mixed genre at The Porch Writers’ Collective in Nashville. She lives in Nashville.

Friday, September 23: Kick-off Gathering & Reading, Oaklands Pavilion, 427 Roberts Street),  Murfreesboro ("doors" open 6:30, readings start at 7:00pm)

Please join us for a kick-off reading at the Oaklands Park Pavilion (427 Roberts Street)! This reading, cosponsored by Poetry in the Boro, will feature visiting writer Lynne Lampe, conference presenter Christian J. Collier, and limited open mic slots. Free and open to the public.

IN-PERSON Saturday, September 24, 8:00am-4:00pm, Academic Classroom Building (MTSU)

8:00am-9:00am: Continental Breakfast, Registration, & Welcome from MTSU Write Director Amie Whittemore

Session 1 Options: 9:00am-10:30am

 

Interrogating the Intimate and the Sacred with Christian J. Collier, 9:00am-10:30am

There is a relationship all creative people have between the communities, traditions, people, etc. that have made and shaped us as well as the works we produce. I believe that interrogating who and what we hold sacred allows us to forge more intimate understandings of ourselves and what our work can say. In this workshop, we will identify what we find sacred and explore ways to bring more open and honest versions of ourselves into our writing through a series of exercises. 

Christian J. CollierChristian J. Collier is a Black, Southern writer, arts organizer, and teaching artist who resides in Chattanooga, TN. He is the author of the chapbook The Gleaming of the Blade from Bull City Press. His works have appeared in December, North American Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

Time Is on Your Side: How to Use Life Events to Plot Stories with Candie Moonshower, 9:00am-10:30am

Beginning plotter? Here's a tried and true method for plotting your fiction. Points covered will include but are not limited to learning and practicing the following: 1. Understanding Aristotle's Three-Act Structure. 2. Setting your story within a definitive time period in order to provide a beginning and ending for plotting purposes. 3. Giving your protagonists a set amount of time to achieve their goals or suffer the consequences. 4. Providing the benefit of a ticking clock to your story.

Candie MoonshowerCandie Moonshower is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, THE LEGEND OF ZOEY, and she also writes young adult fiction and adult romances. She is currently marketing her rom-com titled FIRST COMES MARRIAGE. She is a Senior Instructor of English at MTSU and a mentor with MTSU Write. Moonshower holds BA degrees in English and Philosophy, an MA in English Literature, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She is happily married, lives in a log home, and she and her husband are managed by two cats, Marzipan Bing Crosby and Pepper Ann.

Writing the Past Some Wish to Forget with Rachel Louise Martin, 9:00am-10:30am

Description forthcoming!

Rachel Louise MartinRachel Louise Martin is a writer and historian. Her essays have appeared in O Magazine, Oxford American, The Atlantic online and CityLab. Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story (Vanderbilt University Press, 2021) told the story of Nashville's urban development through its most iconic dish. Her next book (title TBD, Simon & Schuster, 2023) will reconstruct the story of Clinton High School's desegregation through the perspectives of its participants. Rachel sees her work as a form of social justice, a means of addressing the wrongs of the past so as to offer hope for the future.

Session 2: 10:45am-12:15pm

 

Diptychs in Poetry and Prose: The Hinge of Deeper Writing with Linda Parsons, 10:45am-12:15pm

Through examples of diptychs, pieces in conversation or set against each other, and in writing exercises, we’ll see how to go deeper in our writing and make stronger connections, either thematically or in reflection. The “hinge” between the two pieces, whether prose or poetry, becomes change, loss, discovery—a deeper understanding of memories and events in our lives, just as two panels of a Renaissance diptych depict events that call us to contemplate them both as works of art and as objects evoking personal meaning. 

Linda ParsonsPoet, playwright, essayist, and editor, Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and the copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Widely published, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019). Five of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

 

 

A Box Wherein Weird Sh*t Happens: Writing the Prose Poem with Gary McDowell, 10:45am-12:15pm

This class will introduce you to the oxymoron that is the prose poem. Lineation is the key craft element that separates poetry from prose, but what happens when we write a poem that lacks its one defining characteristic? We will survey the form and write our own prose poems under the influence of contemporary prose poets. Come ready to be imaginative; come ready to write; come ready to delve into the box wherein weird shit happens.

Gary McDowellGary McDowell has published seven books, the latest of which are Aflame (White Pine Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 White Pine Press Poetry Prize and Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017). He is also the co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, and New England Review, among others. He is an Associate Professor of English at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

 

Strategies for Revision with Eliana Ramage, 10:45am-12:15pm

Writing is revising, and we'll talk through four main strategies of revision: radical reshaping, organization, storyboarding, and line-editing. We’ll look at the before-and-afters of published writing, and discuss examples of when and how to reimagine the form and content of an early draft. We’ll learn to quickly tear apart what we have and build it back better. With revision checklists and a clear strategy for organizing drafts and tasks for revision, we'll all walk away with more motivation for the next draft.

Eliana RamageEliana Ramage is a Cherokee Nation citizen from Nashville, where she teaches creative writing and works with youth in college access at a local non-profit. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2018, and holds an MA from Bar-Ilan University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, CRAFT, and the anthology All the Women in My Family Sing. She is at work on her first novel.

12:15-2:30pm: Lunch & Keynote Address from Sequoia Nagamatsu

 

Session 3: 2:30pm-4:00pm

Writing Great Characters with Lori Fischer, 2:30pm-4:00pm

What do Arabella Essiedu, David Rose, Blanche DuBois, and Michael Corleone have in common? All are great characters. Whether you are a playwright, screenwriter, novelist, or television writer, the ability to create compelling, unforgettable characters is key. Ultimately, it is the recognizable yet surprising and unique character that draws in readers and audience members and leads them forward. Through a combination of in-class exercises, lectures, and writing assignments, learn how to create detailed, compelling characters.

Lori FischerLori Fischer (Playwright/Actress/Professor) received her M.F.A. from the N.Y.U. Dramatic Writing Department. She is a New York University Harry Kondoleon Graduate Award in Playwriting recipient, a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a member of the Dramatists Guild Foundation’s new playwriting initiative and recently completed the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting. Theater Credits: Lori’s drama Petie has been called a modern day classic and was recently produced by Theatre East in NYC. Lori’s comedy Greener Pastures was recently produced at the Cumberland County Playhouse. For more information go to: www.lorifischer.net.

 

 

How to Ménage à Trois: Using Queer Erotics to Experiment with the Writer-Character-Reader Relationship with Loie Rawding, 2:30pm-4:00pm

This seminar will explore the intimate relationship between writer, character, and reader by rejecting the traditional constructs of institutional, heteronormative literature and embracing modes of embodied narrative. We will discuss the radical philosophies of Susan Sontag, Audre Lorde, and Melissa Febos, among others. We will also apply queer erotic theory in writing exercises designed to push past our personal boundaries and experiment with the vital bond between our lives, our craft, and our desired audience. This is an anti-racist and pro-LGBTQIA+ workshop. All sharing is voluntary.

Loie RawdingLoie Rawding grew up off the coast of Maine. She received her MFA from the University of Colorado where she taught undergraduate courses for several years. Her writing has appeared in The Thought Erotic, 3:AM Magazine, The Wanderer, SAND Literary (Berlin), and The Heavy Feather Review, among others. Her debut novel, Tight Little Vocal Cords (KERNPUNKT), was a finalist for the Big Other Book Awards, as well as listed on Lambda Literary’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020 and Entropy’s Best of Fiction 2020. Loie is a Teaching Artist with The Porch Writers Collective and presently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Generating Tension in Fiction with Charles Dodd White, 2:30pm-4:00pm

This workshop will explore how to raise stakes in your writing. While the specific focus is on fiction, the methods and strategies translate across all writing genres. We will investigate how to intensify openings, deepen complications, and enliven conclusions in narrative. In addition to participating in discussion with examples, workshop members will also respond to generative prompts that can be used as a platform for new writing projects. As a result, participants should leave the group with either a renewed vision for an extant piece of writing or the scaffold for a new draft.


Charles Dodd WhiteCharles Dodd White is the author of four novels and a short story collection. He has received the Appalachian Book of the Year Award and the Chaffin Award for his fiction. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he teaches English at Pellissippi State Community College. His memoir, A YEAR WITHOUT MONTHS, is now available from West Virginia University Press.

 

 

Registration: 

Conference Registration will open July 1, 2022 and early bird pricing will be available until August 31, 2022.  Registration is FREE for MTSU Write students and mentors. Limited free registration will be offered to MTSU students.

Registration Prices:
  • Virtual Programming (9/23/22): $75
  • In-Person Programming (9/24/22): $125
  • or register for BOTH for $150

Questions? Email mtsuwrite@mtsu.edu.

 
Questions or Comments

Please send an email to mtsuwrite@mtsu.edu.