Tag Archives: Desert Nights Rising Stars

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


Writer, writer on the wall…

Want to be the fairest writer of them all? Read often. Write daily. And learn from the masters.

Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser just announced that registration is now open for the next “Mothers Who Write” workshop, a 10-week series that starts Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It meets Thursday evenings from 6-8pm and costs $200 (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts members pay just $175).

A teen writing workshop called “Fems with Pens,” for girls in grades 7-12, begins Jan. 23 at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The six-week series also include 5-6pm sessions on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5. Participants write fiction and non-fiction using various exercises, then discuss and edit their work in a “creative, supportive environment.” The series costs $60.

Phoenix Public Library and Changing Hands Bookstore present a “Young Adult Writing Conference” featuring writing classes and a writing panel on Sat, Jan. 28 at the Burton Barr Central Library. Presenters and panelists include authors Adam Rex, Bree Despain, James Owen, Anna Carey, Kiersten White, Aprilynne Pike, Amy Fellner Dominy, C J Hill (Janette Rallison), Robin Brande, Cecil Castellucci and Tom Leveen. The event runs 9am-3pm and costs $85 ($75 through Jan. 19).

A “Yallapalooza” event for teens and tweens takes place at the library that same day at 4pm. The 11 authors noted above will attend, and the event also features free pizza — plus games, prizes and book signing opportunities. Admission is free.

ASU’s Virgina G. Piper Center for Creative Writing holds its 2012 “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” conference Feb. 23-26 at the center, located on ASU’s Tempe Campus. Conference faculty include Sally Ball, Robert Boswell, Bernard Cooper, Denise Dumahel, Carolyn Forche, Pam Houston, Adam Johnson, Mat Johnson, A. Van Jordan, Antonya Nelson, Alix Ohlin, Jem Poster, Melissa Pritchard, Jeannine Savard, Eleanor Wilner and Xu Xi. Writers of all levels are welcome, and general registration is $375 (master class tuition is an additional $125).

The UA Poetry Center in Tucson is presenting several classes and workshops in coming months, including “Poetry in the 21st Century” with Joel Arthur. The eight week literature class, which begins Feb. 6, will explore trends including conceptual poetry, Gurlesque, flarf, virtual poetics, Vispo and more. Participants will read, discuss and listen to American poetry from 2000 to the present. The class costs $200 (plus a $10 materials fee).

The Poetry Center also offers “Possibilities of Short Plays” with Laura Owen, an eight-week writing workshop on writing short form theatrical pieces — monologues and ten-minute plays. Participants will explore voice and dialogue, as well as the intersection of poetry and other forms. Students can expect to complete several dialogues and at least one complete ten-minute play. The workshop, which starts Feb. 8, costs $200 (plus a $5 materials fee).

Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers present a “Local Writers Workshop” at the Mustang Library at 1:15pm on Feb. 19. The free workshop covers writing, publishing, an online author toolkit and networking. It’s one of many free writing-related events offered by Scottsdale Public Libraries. (Check your local library for additional options.)

If your organization offers writing classes for youth or adults, feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: An organization called Friends of the Phoenix Public Library needs donations of children’s books to help economically-challenged schools stock their libraries and classrooms. Click here for donation details, and to learn about the Friends’ annual “Winter Book Sale” taking place later this month.

Coming up: Celebrating black history on stage and screen