Wilkes University


Wilkes University to Offer Creative Writing Conference to Arizona Writers

Conference celebrates first year of the Creative Writing master’s degree in Arizona

Wilkes University's M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing will host a writer's conference on Nov. 13 and 14. The conference will feature publishing panels, writing workshops, readings, and talks with editors and agents. 

The conference kicks off with an open mic night at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 at the Mesa Arts Center. At 8 p.m., Wilkes University will host a valley-wide poetry slam at the Mesa Center for Higher Education, 245 W. 2nd St in Mesa. The slam is open to the public for participation and attendance. Those wishing to compete are encouraged to pre-register. Cash prizes will be awarded at $150 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place.  

The conference continues from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14 and includes sessions on fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting and playwriting.  Regional partners will conduct presentations and readings,. They include Lawn Gnome oks/Publishing, BlackPoet Ventures, AZ Poetry Society, Phonetic Spit, Four Chambers Press, First Friday Night Live, Dan Hull of Storyline and others.  Attendees can enter a cash prize competition by submitting writing samples in poetry, fiction or nonfiction. The conference will conclude with a reading from Wilkes professor and New York Times best selling author of Riding in Cars with Boys, Beverly Donofrio at 7 p.m. Donofrio will also sign books, including her latest release Astonished. 

“The greatest pleasure I get from teaching at Wilkes is witnessing writers develop from tentative beginnings to fully realized, well-written and well structured, first drafts of their books,” Donofrio said. “I'm privileged to witness the transformations that happens when they go deep to find their truth and their voice.” 

The cost to attend the conference is $25 for students (with ID), and $55 for general admission. 

“We love the creative energy found in the Valley,” said the program’s co-founder and director, Bonnie Culver. “We have students from the area currently enrolled in the Wilkes creative writing program in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting. We hope the conference will grow into a regional dialogue about art and writing.” 

Attendees interested in the master of arts or master of fine arts in creative writing can bring writing samples to the conference to receive an instant admissions decision. The weekender format allows students to take classes in screenwriting, playwriting, poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Classes are held online with face-to-face meetings one a month at Wilkes University in Mesa.

National/international slam poet, and Wilkes graduate creative writing student, Jeremiah Blue will coordinate the event. Blue is also a long-time slam host and area events coordinator, and director of the annual Copper State Poetry Slam. 

To register for the conference or poetry slam, email austin.bennett@wilkes.edu. For more information on the master’s degree, visit www.wilkes.edu/Mesa or contact Bonnie Culver at bonnie.culver@wilkes.edu or (570) 408-4527.