Creative Writers Gather at Sweet Briar for Annual Conference

| March 14, 2012

Nell Boeschenstein

Sweet Briar will host its fourth annual Creative Writing Conference from March 22-25. Featuring public readings and craft talks by visiting writers, as well as workshops for participating undergraduate students from various states, it is distinct among writing conferences of its kind in the country.

This year, Sweet Briar is expecting a total of 70 college students to participate in the event. While the number includes 15 Sweet Briar students, most participants come from schools across Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon.

“This is the greatest geographic reach we’ve ever had,” said John Casteen, who teaches poetry at Sweet Briar and organizes the event. They have also never reached as many institutions, he added.

To invite students to the conference, Sweet Briar professors work with colleges in the region and across the country, often through informal partnerships.

“We ask them, ‘Give us the names of the best students you have’,” Casteen said. “Then we contact these students and recruit them directly.”

Michael Rutherglen

While similar conferences take place at other colleges during summer break, Sweet Briar is the only school to pull together an event like this for undergraduate students in the middle of a semester, Casteen said.

It’s a unique opportunity for creative writing majors at Sweet Briar.

“I expect the conference will continue to diversify the educational experience for our own students,” he added.

This year’s lineup features readings and craft talks by non-fiction writer Nell Boeschenstein, who writes for the Morning News, and poet Michael Rutherglen. Other writers include Virginia Magazine editor Sierra Bellows, Leah Green, who teaches writing at Washington and Lee University, and poet Dave Lucas. Readings and craft talks are open to the public.

For more information about the conference, please visit, email [email protected] or call (434) 381-6220.

Contact: Janika Carey

Category: Creative Writing, English, Uncategorized