Coming to America

Macklanburg Playhouse, 10:00-11:15

Panelists:   Sarah Gambito, José Orduna, Natalia Sylvester

Moderator: Sheri-Marie Harrison, MU Department of English 

The writers on this panel—immigrants themselves, or the children of immigrants —discuss how notions and aspects of immigration have shaped and informed their writing, and how those elements have shifted with the recent American political and cultural climate, including the elections of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.


Writing the Rural

Chapel, 10:00-11:15

Panelists: Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Garrard Conley, Crystal Wilkinson

Moderator: Rebecca Hayes, MU Department of English 

The writing and writers of rural America are as rich and varied as those of any American landscape. These three writers give voice to real and imagined lives that resonate from the holler to the rolling hills, from splendid isolation to cacophonous interference; from margin to center.


A Wonderful Town

Recital Hall, 10:00-11:15

Panelists: Kevin Coval, Rebecca Makkai, Natalie Moore

Moderator: Josh Runnels

If each of us, as the poet said, contains multitudes, then how do you capture the essence of a town or a city? Is such an endeavor fruitless, or can we learn something by the trying? We bring together three writers - a poet, a novelist, and a journalist - to discuss how Chicago, the city where they all live, informs their writing.


Some Notes on Notes

Macklanburg Playhouse, 11:30-12:45

Panelists: Wesley Brown, Kevin Coval, Donna Gaines, Joan Morgan

Moderator: Maya Gibson, MU Honors College

Twelve notes, infinite possibilties. The four writers on this panel have all written, to great acclaim, about music and musicians. But how does one capture the essence of music and musicians with mere words? (Clue: twenty-six letters, infinite possibilities.) 

Ghosts in the Machine

Recital Hall, 11:30-12:45

Panelists: Monica Ferrell, Natalia Sylvester, Laura van den Berg

Moderator: Phong Nuygen, MU Department of English 

Ghost stories are like ghosts themselves: they take different forms and serve different purposes from one tradition's folklore to the next. The storytellers on this panel (writers and poets, both) discuss the nature of ghosts in their writing and, in turn, the literature that they've read that continues to haunt them.


Prison Sentences

Macklanburg Playhouse, 1:00-2:15

Panelists: Shane Bauer, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Walidah Imarisha

Moderator: Rod Uphoff, MU School of Law

America incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. This panel brings together writers with varied relationships to the prison industrial complex—a reporter, a person formerly incarcerated, and a former guard. Through reportage, poetry, creative nonfiction, and memoir, they explore what prison means to them - and what it should mean to you.


Finding the Right Audience for Your Children’s Book

Stamper Commons, 1:00-2:15

Panelists: Angie Zapata, Javaka Steptoe, Deborah Zemke

Moderator: Kimberly Moeller, MU Libraries

One of the most significant considerations every children’s author and illustrator must keep in mind is audience. This panel of authors, illustrators and academics will provide perspective and advice on this complicated subject, which encompasses issues of age, diversity, style, materiality, subject matter, and more. Prepare to be illuminated!


Writing and Activism

Macklanburg Playhouse, 2:30-3:45

Panelists: Garrard Conley, Walidah Imarisha, Treasure Shields Redmond

Moderator: Keona Ervin, MU Department of History

Reading and writing are political acts. There is a symbiotic relationship between writing and other kinds of activism. Our panelists have followed multiple paths to engage in and effect change, and will discuss the relationship between these different approaches.


The Long and the Short of It

Chapel, 2:30-3:45

Panelists: Joanna Luloff, Rebecca Makkai, Laura van den Berg

Moderator: André Forget

Many novelists begin their creative careers by writing short stories, but for some the short form continues to hold a special thrall. What draws these writers back to stories and how is their conception and generation different from novels? The participants have all received acclaim for both their stories and novels, and discuss the pleasures and challenges of each.


The Craft and Graft of Fiction: Your Questions Answered

Stamper Commons, 2:30-3:45

Panelists: Jenna Blum, Christopher Castellani, Crystal Wilkinson

Moderator: Alex George

Telling stories is hard. Do you have a question about the craft of fiction writing? Perhaps you struggle with plot, or characterization, or pacing – or a hundred other things. Our panelists are not just successful writers, but also accomplished educators of creative writing. Come with your queries. Their big brains are here to be picked.


Unbound Goes to the Movies

Macklanburg Playhouse, 4:00-5:15

Panelists: Garrard Conley, Joanna Rakoff, Steven Rowley

Moderator: Nancy West, MU Department of English

The list of books that have been ‘greenlighted’ for film adaptation is practically as old as filmmaking itself. But what is it like for authors to watch their books get interpreted by others? Do they still recognize their characters and their stories? This panel convenes three writers whose novels and memoirs are in various stages of development for the big screen.