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  • Katie Cortese

win, place, show: sewanee writers' conference

Writing conferences come in all shapes and sizes, but rarely does one come along with the history, faculty, community, and general reputation of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Gearing up for its 26th session, this Conference takes place on the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and will run this year from July 21st through August 2nd, 2015. While some conferences focus only on workshop classes, and some focus on time to retreat and produce work, Sewanee offers a balanced hybrid of both. A listing of the workshop teachers is a veritable volume of Who’s Who in American Letters. From the Conference’s website: “This year’s faculty includes fiction writers Richard Bausch, Tony Earley, Adrianne Harun, Randall Kenan, Jill McCorkle, Alice McDermott, Tim O’Brien, Christine Schutt, Allen Wier, and Steve Yarbrough; and poets Daniel Anderson, B.H. Fairchild, Andrew Hudgins, Maurice Manning, Charles Martin, Mary Jo Salter, A.E. Stallings, and Sidney Wade. Dan O’Brien and Paula Vogel will lead the playwriting workshop. Charles Martin, A.E. Stallings, and N.S. Thompson will offer a supplemental poetry translation workshop.” In addition to the group workshop sessions, every day of the Conference is packed with readings, lectures, and panels presented by the faculty, Conference Fellows and Scholars, and invited guests such as literary agents Julie Barer and Michelle Brower, journal editors Roger D. Hodge (Oxford American) and David Lynn (The Kenyon Review), and press acquisitions editors Mike Levine (Northwestern University Press) and Kathy Pories (Algonquin Books). If you are of the gregarious writer set, Sewanee is the place for you. In addition to socializing at the three meals a day offered in the window-lined dining area, there are almost-daily receptions of three varieties: afternoon, evening, and night. And oddly enough, if you consider yourself more of a reclusive writer who thrives on silence and privacy, Sewanee is also the place for you. The idyllic campus contains enough inspiration to fuel the imaginations of poets, prose writers, and playwrights alike. Whether you choose to explore the parapets of the castle-like campus buildings, hole up in your single dorm room, stroll through the graveyard on the edge of campus where poet and critic Allen Tate is buried, wander the trails in the mountainous woods, or hike out to the reservoir for a cool dip, there are no shortage of quiet, contemplative activities and places to be alone.

The application window opened today (January 15th, 2015) and will close on April 20th. To apply, visit this link A limited number of fellowships and scholarships are available on a competitive basis. There are few places that provide writers an experience like Sewanee's, but it’s probably best that you find out for yourself why the Conference has been going strong since the 1980s. One summer there should do it.

--Katie Cortese, Assistant Editor


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