Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference Finale

T

he Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference has officially come to a close. This is only my second year participating in this true celebration of writing, writers, and Nebraska and I’ll be returning for more next year! Faith Sullivan’s weekend workshop on setting was great. We dove into writing and discussion, creating vivid settings, breathing and living as characters. Sullivan is a sweet woman with energy, encouragement, and valuable ideas about writing.

As for the readings…

Sculpture
I couldn’t make it to all of the readings, but I did manage to get to the Ted Kooser/Carol Bly reading
at the Sheldon Art Gallery, Wednesday afternoon. With both writers, place is central to their work. Ted Kooser, who read from an epic poem and an essay, focused on Nebraska. Both pieces were inspired by true, yet tragic, events. In the spirit of his poetry style, he read with intimacy and patience. Yet, there were several nail-biting moments when the crowd audibly gasped and held on to their seats in anticipation of the next line.

Kelly, from the Prairie Schooner, was right on when she described Carol Bly as a "gun slinger" in her introduction. (And a fabulous introduction it was!) The North Minnesotan read with the kind of intimacy that you have with an old friend. She read as if to say to her reader, "Come closer, I know something about the third singer on the left in the church choir." Her work was riddled with anecdotes and stories, a true performance. I must confess it took me a second to catch on to the fact that she was actually reading from her work, instead of jokingly sharing intimate secrets about her small town.

Did you make it to the Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference? I couldn’t stay the whole week, so fill me in!

-Éiluj