This weekend marked the 10th Anniversary of the Low Residency MFA Program of Queens University of Charlotte. To celebrate, the Program held it’s 4th Alumni Workshop in conjunction with a Gala. As a graduate of that very first class, I went and participated in everything. It was a great weekend.
Most of us arrived on Thursday and attended a very nice reception, reminiscent of the receptions that opened all of our Residencies during out program. After that, three alums with books out or forthcoming gave readings, and then–no surprise here–we adjourned to the bar. On Friday we had a day full of seminars and panels: Narrative Time, The Canon, The Impact of Technology on the Industry and Academia; The Publishing Industry; Sound and Syntax; CV Writing. And then there was another reception, this time with the faculty for the weekend’s workshops. That was followed by an open mic reading, which was followed by another trip to the bar.
Saturday was in many ways the main event. First we had a panel on literary magazines with Willing Davidson from The New Yorker and Rob Spillman from Tin House. Then we had workshops. Some people worked with faculty from the Queens program. Others worked with agents. Others (including me) worked with editors. In the afternoon we had a craft lecture on Risk Taking, more workshops, and a final panel with the agents and editors.
The evening began with a program honoring the 8 original faculty members–still with the program–each of whom gave short readings: Elissa Schappel, Jenny Offil, Susan Perabo, Jonathan Dee, Robert Polito, Cathy Smith Bowers, David Payne, and Elizabeth Strout. Quite a group. We then hurried over to the party for food and drink and music and books, including the debut of Boomtown: Explosive Writing from Ten Years of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA Program. Kevin Watson of Press 53 was on hand and sold out the 100 copies of the book he brought.
When things finally wound down we made one more visit to the hotel bar. This morning we had conferences with our workshop leaders and then a farewell brunch. Great way to spend a weekend!