|41st Annual Writers Conference kicks off March 23|
In the beginning, humans gathered around the fire to share stories; today, they are curling up with their digital reader. The 41st Annual Writers Conference kicks off Tuesday, March 23, and runs through Saturday, March 27. This year’s Conference -- titled "MIND THE GAP: Print, Art, Media" -- explores the various media through which stories are being shared. The opening day’s noon panel raises the provocative question, “Are books obsolete?”
When asked why she chose this year’s theme "MIND THE GAP: Print, Media, Art," Crystal Alberts, co-director of the Conference, said, “On one hand, it seems as though the younger generation is drifting away from traditional print reading (if it's not on a screen, and I can't find it in two seconds through Google, forget it). On the other hand, the more mature generation seems leery of embracing technology (I can't curl up with a cup of tea and a Kindle, it's just not the same).”
Alberts chose this year's theme with the intention of exploring “how literature and art are created in the digital age, as well as with the idea that we might bridge the generational gap with the ultimate goal that we all could learn something from one another.”
The widely known and well respected UND Writers Conference has brought literary luminaries such as Truman Capote, Alice Walker and Salman Rushdie to Grand Forks. This year it will offer up a smorgasbord of writers working in traditional paper and ink, as well as some who share their words via the digital realm.
* Mark Amerika, Stuart Moulthrop, Deena Larsen and Nick Montfort are digital media writers. Their work involves much more than just reading left to right, top to bottom and then turning the page. These writers encourage readers to get their hands dirty by actually playing with the words, in addition to engaging the text intellectually and emotionally.
* Cecilia Condit tells stories through moving images where she plays with language and performance art. Her films are currently on exhibit at the Museum of Art through the Writers Conference.
* Saul Williams is a spoken word artist whose recitation is in line with that of the great poets who performed in royal courts long ago. Williams becomes the words he speaks and transmits the emotion of those words to the audience.
* Poet Frank X. Walker also comes to the old stories with a new way of seeing. In two of his books, he explores the story of Lewis and Clark through the eyes of York, the slave forced to accompany the men on the long journey west.
* Who better to illustrate new approaches to the well-known story than Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman whose graphic novels, "Maus I" and "Maus II," changed the way we see the Holocaust. Read by young and old alike, Spiegelman is the UND Presidential Lecturer, and at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, in the Chester Fritz Auditorium, he will take the audience on a chronological tour of the evolution of comics while explaining the value of this medium and why it should not be ignored.
In addition to the noon panels Tuesday through Friday and the afternoon and evening readings, there is also a film festival screening works selected by this year’s writers. Community readings and workshops fill out the rest of the schedule, and this year there will also be a free concert on Saturday evening featuring the St. Paul “new music” group, Zeitgeist.
All Writers Conference events are free and open to the public. A complete Writers Conference schedule is available at www.undwritersconference.org/ . You can also visit us on Facebook.
-- Kathy Coudle-King, co-director, UND Writers Conference, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-2787