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An ode to writers: Northwoods Writers Conference is this week at BSU

submitted photo Pictured (from left to right) are Sean Hill, a poet and Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference director; Joni Tevis, a faculty member with the workshop last year; and Camille Dungy, who is teaching a poetry workshop again this year; as they convened last year for the Faculty Publishing Panel Talk, which again this year will occur on the final morning of the conference and is open to participants.

Authors and poets from across the country will be writing, reading and “slamming” this week.

The BSU’s Northwoods Writers Conference was established in 2003 but after one of the lead organizers left, the program took a brief four-year hiatus before returning last year.

Matthew Hawthorne, conference coordinator, said the weeklong program allows authors from the community to improve their writing skills.

“The purpose of the week is to give writers an opportunity to participate in an intensive writing environment with other writers,” Hawthorne said.

Sean Hill, director of the conference, said there will be multiple ways for attendees to be involved in the program.

“This year we have three levels of engagement,” Hill said. “There’s the participants and they’re the ones who are in these five-day intensive intimate workshops, we have auditors — people who come for the craft talks in the morning and then we have the evening reading series which is free and open to the public.”  

The $585 workshops have already filled to capacity but organizers said there are still $125 auditor spots open for registration through today. The auditor spots include an editor’s talk, conference meals, afternoon events, and a publishing seminar.

All registration fees go toward costs associated with hosting the conference, which include marketing for the event, transportation and housing for the visiting authors and meals provided to conference participants.

Organizers said the authors featured throughout the week are from diverse backgrounds, geographical areas and genres that will further enhance the conference experience.

“That’s part of the identity of the conference as well — providing an opportunity for people in the region to experience that,” Hawthorne said.

The distinguished visiting writer for the week is Pam Houston, the director of creative writing at the University of California-Davis, whose stories have been featured in volumes such as Best American Short Stories and the The 2013 Pushcart Prize.

“People recognize her as a prestigious talent,” Hill said.

Hill encouraged anyone interested in writing or reading to either sign up for an auditor spot or come to the public evening reading sessions.

“If someone’s interested in writing — this is the place where they’ll get diverse takes on writing,” he said.

All evening reading sessions will be at the BSU’s Indian Resource Center at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the Northwoods Writer’s Conference, visit or call (218) 755-2068.