As winter struggles to give way to spring here on the Northern Plains, it means that it is time for the annual University of North Dakota Writers Conference. Started in 1970 as a gathering called the Southern Writers Conference of the Arts, the annual gathering of writers and readers has now gained nationally renown and is the clear highlight of the late winter in North Dakota.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Citizen” and it brings together a particularly diverse group of authors from across the United States to offer readings, to screen films, to conversate at lunchtime panels dedicated to topics of “refuge,” “community,” and “voices,” and to reflect on the use of “hydrogels for hands on learning.“
The Writers Conference is sponsored, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the North Dakota Humanities Council (which receives its funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities). In light of this week’s announcement that these two programs are set to be cut from the 2018 federal budget, I suspect that this year’s conference will have some added intensity as the gathered writers and readers reflect on the topic of the citizen in a potential world without publicly funded arts and humanities.
Please do plan to attend!
And, if you can’t, do check out the growing digital archive of past conferences.