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David R. Collins Writers' Conference


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David R. Collins Writers' Conference
June 28, 29, and 30, 2018
St. Ambrose University
McCarthy Hall
518 W. Locust St., Davenport, Iowa
Online registration for the 2018 David R. Collins Writers' Conference available at

To register via phone, please call MWC at 309-732-7330.
*Downloadable PDF copy of the 2018 Collins Writers' Conference Brochure coming soon*


Thursday, June 28, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Figge Art Museum (225 W. 2nd St. Davenport, IA 52801)
Light hors d'oeuvres and cash bar available

"After animator/producer Angella Kassube first animated one of Todd Boss's poems in 2008, the duo started introducing other poets to other video artists -- and a new hybrid form was born! Motionpoems is a 501c3 nonprofit arts organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Pairing filmmakers & poets to make creative content, Season 8 features 12 short films that tackle racism, LGBTQIA+ rights, immigration, women’s rights, gun control, educational & social welfare, judicial system reform, climate change, and news/media/social platforms.

Our poets include Tiana Clark, Natalie Diaz, Eve L. Ewing, Peter LaBerge, Robin Coste Lewis, Susannah Nevison, Danez Smith, Maggie Smith, Lee Ann Roripaugh, and Nomi Stone.
Their poems were adapted to film by directors Daniel Daly, Kate Dolan, Mohammed Hammad, Anais LaRocca, Savanah Leaf, Monty Marsh, Jane Morledge, Ty Richardson, Ryan Simon, Tom Speers, Jovan Todorovic and Tash Tung."

Schedule for Conference Keynote Event
6:00-7:00 p.m. - Public reception, Community Gallery
7:15-8:30 p.m. - Motionpoems Season 8 + a selection of other short films, John Deere Auditorium


***DRC Conference Faculty & Workshops***

"Intimacy Issues: Writing the Not-So-Personal Personal Essay" with Lyz Lenz

In The Godfather (book, not movie) Mario Puzo writes, "It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell." Everything we write is personal, from journalism to music reviews to Facebook posts and beyond, if it isn't personal then, why write it at all? This workshop will explore how to weave together the personal, the reported, the business, and "every piece of shit a man eats", together into a cohesive narrative. If you write very personal essays, this class will teach you how to weave in research to broaden the scope of your writing. If you write the not-so-personal, this class will teach you how to weave in those personal stakes that make readers engaged. We will read essays from writers who expertly blend genres and discuss techniques for how to make everything personal as hell.

Offered 8:45-10:15 a.m. on June 28, 29, 30

Lyz Lenz has published essays and journalism in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Washington Post, The Guardian, ESPN, Marie Claire, Mashable, Salon, and more. Her book on religion and the Midwest is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. Her book Belabored: Tales of Myth, Medicine, and Motherhood is forthcoming from Norton. She also has an essay in the forthcoming anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University and is the managing editor at The Rumpus.


"Revving the Machine of Desire: How to Write a Compelling Novel Opening" with Amy Hassinger

Novelist and critic Douglas Glover calls the novel a “machine of desire.” Just as we all do on every single day of our lives on earth, your protagonist must yearn for something—something concrete, specific, and difficult to attain. What is this something? Why is it so important to the overall arc of your novel? We’ll explore this subject together over the weekend, looking at successful novel openings and workshopping our own. Bring your drafts if you have them, or be prepared to write an opening over the weekend. There’s no better inspiration than starting out right.

Offered 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on June 28, 29, 30

Amy Hassinger is the author of three novels: Nina: Adolescence (Putnam 2003), The Priest's Madonna (Putnam 2006), and After the Dam (Red Hen Press 2016). Her writing has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Indonesian and has won awards from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Creative Nonfiction, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Illinois Arts Council. She's placed work in many publications, including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Writers’ Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She earned her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and she teaches at both the University of Illinois and in the University of Nebraska’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program. She grew up in Massachusetts, and now lives in Urbana, Illinois, where she sings in a band called The Jaybirds and bothers her children as much as possible.

"Mixology: Fresh Poetry from Source Material" with Lauren Haldeman

Ask any writer: the best work often comes out of nowhere, with the feeling that you are a lightning rod for greater knowing. Source material can often provide that electricity. In this exciting course, we will actively pursue this idea by using source materials to launch our writing into unrealized terrain. We will use found language, theme-based inquiry and even field research (field trips!) to inspire insights and creations that we could not have come up with on our own. You will leave the class with a powerful new creative writing process and a fat stack of next-level work.

Offered 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on June 28, 29, 30


"Pop + Fizz: Digital Storytelling with Comics + Video" with Lauren Haldeman

This class will give participants a generative, hands-on experience with digital storytelling and comics. Working in groups, we will discover the pleasures and challenges of making one-shot videos. (All you need is a phone with a camera -- or a friend with one.) We will also view examples of literary comics and create a short poetry comic of our own. You will leave the class with a powerful new understanding of new media and a few pieces of your own.

Offered 1:45 – 3:15 p.m. on June 28, 29, 30

Lauren Haldeman is the author of Instead of Dying (winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry, Center for Literary Publishing, 2017), Calenday (Rescue Press, 2014) and the artist book The Eccentricity is Zero (Digraph Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in Tin House, The Colorado Review, Fence, The Iowa Review and The Rumpus. A comic book artist and poet, she has taught in the U.S. as well as internationally. She has been a recipient of the Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, the Colorado Prize for Poetry and fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. You can find her online at http://laurenhaldeman.com


"Hooking Up: Rethinking the First Few Pages of our Fiction and Nonfiction Narratives" with Keith Lesmeister

In this weekend workshop, we will read, discuss, and write our own story openings. What works? What doesn’t? How do language, details, and images inform mood and tone? What promises are made in those opening pages, and how might those promises pay off in the end? How might we, as writers, achieve opening pages—of our own—so fresh and arresting as to “hook” a reader? Over the course of our three sessions, we will take a close look at the opening pages of fiction and nonfiction narratives, and how they hook readers. We will also write or revise the opening pages of our own stories so that we might go home or back to our desks with new or revised material.

Offered 3:30 – 5 p.m. on June 28, 29, 30

Keith Lesmeister is the author of the story collection We Could’ve Been Happy Here (MG Press, 2017). A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, his work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, North American Review, Sycamore Review, Tin House Open Bar, and many others. He lives and works in northeast Iowa. Find him online at keithlesmeister.com.


DRC Conference Keynote Address, featuring MOTIONPOEMS Season 8

*Free & Open to the Public*

Thursday, June 28, 5:30-9:00 p.m. at Figge Art Museum (225 W. 2nd St. Davenport, IA 52801). Light hors d'oeuvres and cash bar available.

Schedule for Conference Keynote Event
6:00-7:00 p.m. - Public reception, Community Gallery
7:15-8:30 p.m. - Motionpoems Season 8 + a selection of other short films, John Deere Auditorium


Author Networking Luncheon on June 29, noon-1:30 p.m. at Gottlieb Lounge, St. Ambrose: This is an optional opportunity to connect with writers attending the Conference to talk about their work, or whatever they like, over a catered lunch. Cost is $17


DRC Conference Social Mixer, Friday, June 29, 5:30-7 p.m. at Rozz-Tox (2108 3rd Ave. Rock Island, IL 61201) Join other conference attendees, local writers, and some conference faculty to enjoy a drink and talk about the conference or writing in general. Attendance to this event is free; drinks are available for purchase.

Faculty Reading and Book Signing, Friday June 29, 7-9 p.m. at Rozz-Tox (2108 3rd Ave. Rock Island, IL 61201) Listen to conference faculty reading their work and then, the mic will be opened up for reading by conference participants. Free and open to the public.


Concluding Luncheon on June 30, noon-1:30 p.m. at Gottlieb Lounge, St. Ambrose: Conference sponsors will be recognized, and the faculty will reflect on their workshops over a catered lunch. . Cost is included with your Conference Registration fee, or $17 for individuals.

Book Pitches: Ten minutes to pitch your book to Lauren Wood from Paradisiac Publishing and/or to representatives from MWC Press on Saturday, June 30. Cost is $20 and you must pre-register.

Saturday, June 30: Paradisiac Publishing - Lauren Wood, founder of Paradisiac Publishing, will hear pitches on the morning of Saturday 6/24 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

*Paradisiac Publishing – Pitch info*
Paradisiac Publishing is looking for completed manuscripts in the following genres: children's books, horror, short story collections, poetry, and young adult novels. We are not interested in any manuscripts outside these categories at this time. Any additional information authors can provide (i.e. marketing plans) are welcome and encouraged. Please contact MWC for more information regarding pitches.

Saturday, June 30: MWC Press - A panel of representatives from MWC Press will hear pitches for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry manuscripts the afternoon of Saturday 6/24 from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

*MWC Press – Pitch info*
The MWC Press panel requests each author bring a one page summary of their pitch—brief synopsis of the manuscript, brief author bio/other publications, brief outline of marketing ideas/strategy, etc. The panel will take these summaries and their input from the pitch sessions back to the MWC Board of Directors and related committees to make a final decision. Authors whose work advances through this process may be asked to provide more detailed information.


Manuscript Critiques: You may submit up to 10 pages of a manuscript by June 10th to be critiqued by a faculty member of your choice. This includes a 30 minute meeting with the faculty member. The time will be mutually agreed upon during the conference. Critique appointments are limited so be sure to sign up early!

Lyz Lenz - 5
Amy Hassinger - 4
Lauren Haldeman - 10
Keith Lesmeister - 5


DRC Conference Registration

Registration via PayPal is available now! Please follow this link to register: http://www.mwcqc.org/events-opportunities/david-r-collins-writers-conference/drc-conference-registration/

Please call Ryan Collins at (309) 732-7330 to register over the phone today, or email him at mwc@midwestwritingcenter.org for more information.

***David R. Collins Writers' Conference Sponsors***

Modern Woodman of America,
Founding Sponsor of the David R. Collins Writers' Conference

Regional Development Authority

The Figge Art Museum

St. Ambrose University English Department

Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts