Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 8:52 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writers' conference returns for 10th year: Early registration ends Friday

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photo provided

Rita Dove, keynote speaker for the 2011 Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference.

While this June marks the 10th year of the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, for keynote speaker Rita Dove, it will be a return to Homer. Dove, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, first came to Kachemak Bay while driving around Alaska with her husband on a motorhome tour.

"I really fell in love with Homer," she said in a phone interview from her office at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, where she teaches in the master of fine arts writing program. "I remember standing there and saying, 'I'd love to come back here.'"

Dove said she doesn't often speak at writers' conferences, but agreed to come because of her prior visit.

"When the invitation came through it was fate knocking," she said.

Dove kicks off the conference with her keynote address June 10. The conference runs June 10 to 14 at Land's End Resort. Friday is the last day for early registration at the reduced fee of $340. After that, the fee is $385, with registration if space available to the start of the conference. The conference often fills before, though, so pre-registration is encouraged.

The conference features 18 nationally-recognized authors, editors and agents who present creative writing workshops, readings, craft talks and panel discussions in fiction, nonfiction, children's writing, poetry and the business of writing. Optional activities include manuscript reviews, editor-agent consultations, receptions, a boat cruise and an open mic.

Faculty member Rigoberto Gonzalez also presents a two day post-conference workshop June 14-16 at Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge. Gonzalez offers a cross-genre workshop in which "participants will zero in on the natural textures of the environment to identity 'seeds' that will grow into micro-prose or prose poems," as he describes the conference. The fee for the post-conference workshop is $375, including housing, meals and water taxi.

Visiting writers and poets speak in free public readings the evenings of June 11-13. Dove does a special reading at 8 p.m. June 11 at the Homer High School Mariner Theatre, with a book signing following.

Other faculty are Nickole Brown, Mike Burwell, Chris Calhoun, Richard Chiappone, Anne Coray, Rigoberto Gonzalez, LeAnne Howe, Heather Lende, Nancy Lord, Elizabeth Lyon, Brenda Miller, Donna Jo Napoli, Matt Roesch, Eva Saulitis, Peggy Shumaker, Sherry Simpson, Frank Soos and Hannah Tinti.

Dove was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-95, and won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book, "Thomas and Beulah." A fiction writer and playwright as well as a poet, her work includes "Sonata Mullatica," "American Smooth," "On the Bus With Rosa Parks," the short story collection "Fifth Sunday" and the novel "Through the Ivory Gate."

In addition to her keynote address, Dove presents a talk on June 13, "Time Is On My Side: The Narrative vs. The Lyric." Dove describes her talk as "a discussion of the confrontation of Time in poetry." That's time with a capital T, like Beauty and Love.

"We think of them almost as adversaries," Dove said. "Something to be conquered, something to be wrestled to the floor. I think they are not."

In her talk, she'll look at how narrative poetry, which tells a story, and lyrical poetry, which expresses the poet's feelings and emotions, have been compartmentalized, particularly in writing workshops.

"I can't understand why one has to divide things between narrative and lyric," she said. "It's just turning the head slightly."

Dove's keynote address and talk are open only to conference attendees.

To register for the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, and to find out more, visit its website at writersconference.homer.alaska.edu. Registration forms are available online.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael. armstrong@homernews.com.