Local Educators to Get Creative at Writing, Teaching Conference
September 17, 2008
Southern Utah University’s English Department will present its 2008 creative writing conference, “The Mirror of Words: A Mosaic of Self-Portraits,” next Wednesday through Friday, September 24-26.
The conference features two tracks—one for teachers and one for students, with the purpose of both giving students an opportunity to work with published writers in addition to the Creative Writing faculty they work with throughout their time at SUU.
According to Conference Director Danielle Dubrasky, “SUU doesn’t have the same opportunities as a metropolitan area where there are frequent readings by writers, so this is a great chance to for SUU students to gain a variety of perspectives on creative writing.”
As for the teachers’ track, the conference aims to provide teachers with strategies for using creative writing techniques as a way to improve the writing skills of their students. The workshops within both tracks will explore ways in which we create self-portraits through our writing. The conference should give high school teachers ideas for teaching their students how to create a portfolio of "written" self-portraits.
SUU’s annual Creative Writing Conference is a great opportunity for writers and teachers from across the region to gather together to discuss literary merit, strategies and audience.
The conference agenda includes staged readings of plays by award-winning writers Mike Dorrell and Kay Cook, featuring students from SUU’s College of Performing and Visual Arts. The public is invited to attend these performances, at no charge, from 11 a.m.-noon on Friday, September 26, in the Whiting Room of the Hunter Conference Center.
Continuing on a tradition started at last year’s conference, SUU Creative Writing alumni will also present original writings on Wednesday, September 24, at 7 p.m. in the Whiting Room. This event is also open to the public.
In addition to these open presentations, conference attendees will also spend time in workshops led by writers from both the University and from literary venues across the region.
This year’s visiting speakers include Corrinne Clegg Hales, author of four poetry collections and coordinator of the MFA program at Fresno State, and Mike Dorrell, former radio play writer for the BBC and current dramaturge for the Salt Lake Acting Company.
Another visiting lecturer, Scott Sorenson, holds ties to SUU as program coordinator for the University of Utah’s Distance Education Master’s in Social Work program at SUU. Sorenson’s specialty is child welfare issues, and he currently serves as chair of the Advisory Board for the Children’s Justice Center of Iron County, as chair of Utah’s Child Abuse and Neglect Advisory Council, and as treasurer of the Board of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. Sorenson will conduct a special presentation for teachers focused on writing strategies for at-risk youth.
Southern Utah University’s creative writing faculty will be represented by Associate Professor of Creative Writing Danielle Dubrasky, Assistant Professor of English Todd Petersen, and former Department Chair Kay Cook.
Dubrasky is the author of Persephone Awakened, a chapbook of poems. She is the recipient of the 2006 Utah Arts Council First Place Award for Poetry for a book-length collection of poems To Live Elsewhere. She has collaborated with choreographers, composers, and visual artists in performances of her poetry. She has a master’s degree in English from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of Utah’s Creative Writing program.
Petersen has won awards from the Associated Writing Program’s Salt Lake City Weekly, the Sunstone Foundation, and the Utah Arts Council. Petersen's story collection Long After Dark was published in February of 2007. He has recently completed a novel entitled Twilight of the Gods, and is working on a collection of six interlocking stories called Small World.
Cook is a playwright who has written several plays that have been performed in both national and international venues. Her plays Sweet Maggie Blues and Speak to Me Annie were each selected to be premiered at the New American Playwrights Project at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. She worked as a full professor at SUU for the past six years, teaching playwriting and British Literature, and is now a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
SUU’s annual creative writing conference is supported by grants from the Utah Arts Council and funding from SUU’s Regional Services, Alumni Relations, Performing and Visual Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Science.
The entire conference, including instructional sessions only offered trough formal registration, is available for teachers and students, with an option to receive credit for attending the events. Interested participants can register for the conference at www.suu.edu/hss/english/writingconference.
The conference is open to high school teachers across the state, and though it may be too late for some further away to make travel accommodations for this year’s conference, they are encouraged to keep tabs on this annual program. The 2009 conference is currently slated for October 15-16, 2009.