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Northwestern University Summer Writers' Conference

August 17–19, 2017

Chicago, IL

Join a community of writers at Northwestern University for a three-day institute on writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The program, which is now in its 13th year, includes a diverse array of workshops, panels, keynote speakers, networking events, and literary readings. Learn how to make dialogue pop with Juan Martinez, edit your writing with Rebecca Makkai, and follow the journey from a manuscript to a published book at a panel of publishers and editors. Hear a keynote from acclaimed author Stuart Dybek and enjoy a live performance by You’re Being Ridiculous. You can also schedule an individual manuscript consultation with conference faculty. Writers at all levels of experience are welcome, as are writers of all genres and backgrounds. Come seek a fuller understanding of the craft—and business—of writing.

Register here

Registration ends August 6

Summer Writers' Conference

Conference Events

Workshops: Addressing a variety of genres and topics in writing, students will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops each day. Students will engage in writing exercises and focus on brainstorming and experimentation.

Keynotes: Acclaimed Chicago writers will read from their own work, discuss the writer's craft, and converse about the process of writing and publishing. 

Panel Discussions: Writing professionals and enthusiasts come together to discuss topics of interest to writers of all levels and genres.

Literary Readings: Each day at the conference ends with a networking reception and literary reading.

Manuscript Consultations: For an additional fee, conference participants may meet individually with an instructor or panelist to discuss work sent in advance. More information is available here.

Community: Join writers in a supportive community to share work and ideas with others who understand the passion for writing. Participants will receive constructive critique and encouragement from faculty and peers. This conference will help students gain inspiration, build confidence, and provide many networking opportunities.


Thursday, August 17

Keynote Presentation: A Kiss Crosses the City with Stuart Dybek

Writing about place: place as setting, as character, as story, as image, as voice, place as remembered, as imagined & as re-imagined, place as cityscape, landscape, seascape, innerscape, no escape.

Stuart Dybek is the author of The Coast of Chicago, Ecstatic Cahoots, Paper Lantern, I Sailed with Magellan, among other titles. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University.

Friday, August 18

Keynote Discussion: Tell it to the Page and Yell it to the Sky: On Writing and Performance with Ines Bellina, Lindsay Hunter, Parneshia Jones, and Megan Stielstra

Four Chicago-based writers working within multiple genres--fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, journalism, and translation--will discuss the intersections of performance and the page. How do live readings influence the writing process? How have they led to publication opportunities, such as meeting editors or agents? What does it mean to build a creative community, especially at a time when many voices and perspectives are so deeply needed? And how can it be--dare we say it?--fun.

Saturday, August 19

Keynote Performance: You're Being Ridiculous

You're Being Ridiculous is a Chicago-based live lit storytelling show. At You're Being Ridiculous, real people tell true stories about their lives. Each performer is linked by  rotating themes, and by the desire to make you laugh—and, once in awhile, cry. Their motto: Good stories are better than good times. We laugh at ourselves, and laugh with each other. Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Jeremy Owens will host the show with performers Ines BellinaAdrienne GunnAndrew Marikis, and Ashley Ray-Harris.

Receptions and Readings

Each day at the conference will end with a networking reception and literary reading. These events are free and open to the public.

Thursday, August 17

4:30 p.m.: Cocktail Party
5:30 p.m.: Literary Reading hosted by the Northwestern University MA/MFA in Creative Writing

Join Northwestern University's MA/MFA in Creative Writing program for readings of original work by faculty and recent graduates from the program. Faculty readers are Ed Roberson and Megan Stielstra. Recent alumni readers are Ignatius AloysiusPatricia CrisafulliAlex Higley, Cara Suglich, and Jeremy Wilson.

Friday, August 18

4:30 p.m.: Networking Reception
5:30 p.m.: Literary Reading hosted by TriQuarterly Magazine

Please join TriQuarterly for a special reading in celebration of the Summer Writers' Conference. We'll enjoy poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction readings from past contributors, including Bonnie NadzamPaula CarterA.D. NaumannKelley ClinkAngela JacksonRuben Quesada, Jorge Sanchez, and Allain Daigle.

TriQuarterly is the literary magazine of Northwestern University and of the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program. Edited by graduate students in the program, supervised by faculty, and available around the world, TriQuarterly has remained "an international journal of writing, art, and cultural inquiry" since its initial publication in Fall of 1958. 

Saturday, August 19

4:30 p.m.: Networking Reception
5:30 p.m.: A People's History of Chicago event featuring Kevin Coval and local guests 

Kevin Coval is a poet and community builder. As the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is the author and editor of 10 books, including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Schtick. Coval's collection, A People's History of Chicago, dropped in April 2017 on Haymarket Books. Local authors Antwon "Lord" FunchesPatricia Frazier, and E'mon Lauren will also read original work.

Conference Location

Northwestern University - Chicago Campus
Wieboldt Hall
339 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Contact Us

Office of Summer Session and Special Programs
Summer Writers’ Conference
405 Church Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208-4220
phone: 847-491-3458