>Sewanee Writers’ Conference — Day 4

>The staff at Sewanee do a great job and I’m always happy to see the conference participants show up to hear them read–because they’re also such wonderful writers. The first staff reading was Friday morning, with Isabel Galbraith, Carrie Jerrell, and Jake Ricafrente. I don’t think they planned this, but there was a religious theme that ran through the poems all three read.

And then we had Beth Henley’s craft lecture which was all about how to begin a play, which she accomplished by looking at the beginnings of several plays. First, for example, she looked at Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire–noticing and deconstructing the title, then the epigraphs and the cast list, the way the author described the set, and then the first action and dialogue of the play.

Then we had a panel with Robert Wilson from The American Scholar, Mary Flinn from Blackbird, and Wyatt Prunty, who is an advisory editor for the Hopkins Review. Although I’ve attended such panels in the past, it’s always interesting to hear how magazines are evolving. The American Scholar, for example, will be putting more fiction online beginning soon. Blackbird is interested in (but so far only soliciting) video essays.

The faculty and fellows photo session was next. We did one with just the fellows–I’m sitting on the ground–and another with both faculty and fellows in which I’m in the back row next to Robert Hass.

My workshop didn’t meet so I had a chance to get caught up on reading manuscripts, but then — just as the skies opened up — we had one of the highlights of the conference so far, Christine Schutt’s reading. She read from a novel in progress and then also read a short story from a collection that she’s working on. I really enjoyed both, despite the presence of unfortunate dogs.

In the evening, after dinner, we first had Charles Martin’s reading and then an “open mic” for the Scholars, which was very well attended despite the late hour.

And then I had planned to go back to my room to work but was tempted to go out to the French House for others for just one drink. Uh huh.

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