Desert Nights, Rising Stars

2011 conference participants relaxing in the Piper Writers House garden between classes (Photo: Kevin S. Moul)

The “Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference” takes place Feb. 23-26 on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, home to the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

The conference welcomes writers of all levels — who enjoy opportunities to hone their craft in the classroom with distinguished writers and dialogue with fellow writers during classes, readings and other events. 

2011 Desert Nights, Rising Stars class (Photo: Kevin S. Moul)

Conference organizers note that keeping the number of participants small provides an experience that is “both intimate and affordable.” Registration for this year’s conference closes on Jan. 27.

Those who register can sign-up for optional master classes for an additional charge. As of Friday morning, there were still “a few seats available” in the fiction master class with Mat Johnson. Johnson’s bio notes that the author is “a novelist who sometimes writes other things.”

Reading by author Robert Boswell during the 2011 Desert Nights, Rising Stars conference (Photo: Kevin S. Moul)

This year’s conference blends returning and new faculty. Returning faculty members include Robert Boswell, an author of eleven books who lives in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.

I was delighted to learn that high school students register for the conference each year. Organizers note that the conference is appropriate for “mature high school juniors and seniors” — adding that several high school students who’ve attended prior conferences “were fully engaged in the sessions and inspired to continue with their writing.”

Participants are required to register for all four days, but individual tickets for some faculty readings are made available “as space allows” just before the conference.

Exterior of Old Main on the ASU campus, site of most conference classes, readings and panels (Photo: Kevin S. Moul)

“Desert Nights, Rising Stars” begins the evening of Thurs, Feb. 23 with an opening banquet and the introduction of faculty. Both Friday and Saturday offerings begin with a keynote address, followed by discussion classes and master classes.

Afternoons feature faculty readings and a combination of classes, panels and multi-faculty Q & A sessions. Faculty readings and book signings round out the days.

Bios and photographs for 16 conference faculty members and 17 additional guests are available on the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing website, and I’m having great fun exploring them.

So far I’ve uncovered faculty from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, California, Florida and Wales. All specialize in one of three areas — fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Many appear to lead fascinating lives beyond pen and page.

2011 Q & A with authors Robert Boswell, Tara Ison and Jem Poster in the Piper Writers House (Photo: Kevin S. Moul)

Folks can click here for a comprehensive rundown of conference FAQs that answer all but one simple question — Why would anyone who travels to Arizona in March ever decide to go home again?

— Lynn

Note: The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing also offers a distinguished visiting writers series, writing classes, author readings and other events. Click here to learn more.

Coming up: Library meets latte, Schoolhouse tales

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