Auburn Family

The Auburn Writers Conference: Helping Writers Find Their Voice

The Auburn Writers Conference held their third annual conference on Oct. 12 and 13. The conference was held at the Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center and is held every fall.

“This year the theme was The Winding Road: Travel, Identity and the Search for Voice, so there was a lot of writing about place, writing about memory, writing about home, writing about being the other which was really fascinating to hear.” Emily Shank, a senior majoring in Creative Writing and French Language, said.

Emily, who attended the first conference in 2010 but was unable to attend last year’s conference, said that they announced the conference in the summer so she was able to register in July. She said the earlier you register the better chance you have of getting the workshops you want.

“As a student I only had to pay $40 for the entire conference, as a separate person it would have been something like $200, I know my mother paid just $125 for the first day.”

Emily said her favorite part about the conference was listening to the writers read their own works.

“I loved listening to the writers read and speak, we heard from Marshall Chapman the first evening, and she’s worked with Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffett and Conway Twitty. She’s just an amazing singer songwriter and an author, she’s written a couple of memoir books.”

Her favorite author was Patricia Foster, who is teaching here at Auburn but only for this fall semester.

“The way she reads was just beautiful, I could have listened to her for hours,” Emily said.” It was really inspiring to hear these people read their stories in their own words.”

They cater to both; all of the workshops and readings were pretty evenly split between people reading poetry and fiction. They covered all their bases.

The conference has workshops for both fiction writers as well as poetry writers. Most of the workshops Emily attended were for poetry. One author stood out to Emily for her interesting perspective.

“Judith Ortiz Cofer, who teaches at the University of Georgia, she was really interesting to hear from too, she’s a poet. But she was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Jersey and a lot of her poetry is just about how no matter where she is she’s this other,” Emily said. “She’s too American to be Puerto Rican and she’s too Puerto Rican to be American. So I thought that was a really interesting perspective to bring to the writers conference.”

This conference attracts writers from the entire South East and some of the writers are professors at Auburn University.

“There were famous authors at this workshop too and in some situations you were across the table from them at workshops or you were sitting next to them in the auditorium listening to another famous author reading. It was "very interesting dynamic,” Emily said.

According to the Writers conference website the conference “reaches a wide array of literary enthusiasts by cultivating an environment that welcomes writers, readers, and interested others. Joining the already vibrant arts community in Auburn, Alabama, our goal is to work with area arts endeavors to further the arts as a whole.”

Emily said that one of the objectives of these conferences is to make a melting pot of writers and give you the opportunity to connect with people you wouldn’t have necessarily met before.

She recommends the conference for “anyone who has an interest in telling a story or in the world of publishing this is a great opportunity to dip your toe in the world of writing.”

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