Writers’ Week 2020: a brief preview of this year’s conference

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Photo by Lauren Wessell

Stephen Lambros, Staff Writer

For one week every fall semester, the professors of UNCW’s Creative Writing Department opt not to hold classes in an effort to encourage students to attend Writers’ Week conference panels—and the practice has proved its worth. On this occasion, the Creative Writing Department, along with various authors, publishers and representatives of literary magazines, host meetings designed to promote literary discovery and further writers in their knowledge of the writing craft as an art form, whether they’re focused on fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

This year’s Writers’ Week is offering panels between Monday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 6—but the panels won’t be held in Lumina Theater, the Azalea Coast Room, or the Warwick ballroom like they have been in previous years. The reason, by now, should be expected: the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a need for the conference to be held in a way that’s safe for the students, faculty and guests who plan to take part. So this year, in lieu of in-person events, the Creative Writing Department has decided to showcase the 21st-annual event’s panels through online ZOOM seminars. Attendees must preregister for these seminars, and the preregistration form can be accessed here, and access to the full Writers’ Week schedule can be found here.

Each day of the week, the morning will start off with a writing exercise led by Creative Writing professors, UNCW faculty, and representatives of UNCW’s renowned literary magazine, EcoTone. Then throughout the week, authors and editors will lead discussions pertaining to their subject of choice; as examples, Wild Milk author Sabrina Orah Mark will lead a discussion about the ways fairy tales can help shape the future, and Gerald Maa, an editor for the Georgia Review, will speak about the subjects of Theme and Audience.

As this year’s Writers’ Week falls on the week of an election year, the schedule has a space on Tuesday, Nov. 3 which is designated as a time for attendees to vote in case they haven’t voted already. The seminars on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning—the former a discussion pertaining reading and conversation with authors Zelda Lockhart (The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript) and Silas House (Southernmost), and the latter a writing exercise spearheaded by EcoTone editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell—both contain the election as a focus of their discussions. The ingrained nature of the election in this year’s Writers’ Week reflects a tumultuous period of time in which the world will look different no matter which candidates are elected.

The 21st Annual Writers’ Week will not be the same as it has been in years past. But in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a joy to see Writers’ Week continue to press forward, lending students and faculty members the opportunity to expand their grasp of the literary world around them. Preregister and place panels on your schedule as soon as possible—this year’s Writers’ Week will be an event you won’t want to miss.