Celebrating our 10th year of bringing together readers and writers!
September 15, 16, and 17
In what ways do we find ourselves at crossroads?
What are the crossroads in our culture and in our country?
Do crossroads divide or unite?
Our cast of award-winning and acclaimed writers will address these questions, and more, over the three days of the Festival. Participants are invited to take part in all three days or may choose to attend just one or two days.
We are proud to have the following writers
join us for this year's Festival:
- Cara Black, fiction, author of Murder at the Porte de Versailles
- Andrew Graff, fiction, author of Raft of Stars
- Lyanda Lynn Haupt, nonfiction, author of Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit
- Michael Torres, poet, author of An Incomplete List of Names
- Toya Wolfe, fiction, author of Last Summer on State Street
2022 Workshop Descriptions
Registration closes Thursday, September 15!
Workshops with Andrew J. Graff and Toya Wolfe are full. Other workshops are close to full. Register soon to reserve your spot!
- The Architects of Noir or the Characters We Love to Hate
with Cara Black
Friday, Sept 16, 10am - noon
Let's talk about creating compelling Villain/esses we love to hate, who touch us and stay in our psyche. Villains have many names: adversary, antagonist, villain, bully, menace, evil genius, and so on. As a reader I love books that have a character who plays the worthy adversary to the protagonist. If that adversary has redeeming qualities or reasons for going bad that I can identify with, the enjoyment I get from the book increases and pulls me in. Join me in how to craft multi-dimensional villains who are the architects of your story.
Your Story, Your Voice
Your Story, Your Voice with Toya Wolfe
Friday, Sept 16, 10am - noon
What's the story you've always wanted to tell? Where does it take place? Which voice would you use to tell it? In this workshop, you will test out your unique writer's voice and style. We will glance at a few writers who use the distinct voices of their small towns, boroughs, and reservations to tell stories.
THIS SESSION IS FULL.
Three Universals of Storytelling
Three Universals of Storytelling with Andrew J. Graff
Friday, Sept 16, 1:30 - 3:30pm
Inspired by an essay called "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" by Flannery O'Connor, this workshop provides an opportunity to discuss and practice Graff's own take on three critical qualities of narrative writing, lending clarity and momentum to your own manuscript or story ideas. Workshop applicable to both fiction and creative nonfiction writing.
THIS SESSION IS FULL
To I or Not to I: Writing the Personal Pronoun in Creative Nonfiction
Nonfiction Writing with Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Friday, Sept 16, 1:30 - 3:30pm
It's a common assumption that personal essay, memoir, or general creative nonfiction somehow requires the use of the first person—the "perpendicular pronoun" as my erudite father-in-law (and accomplished writer) puts it. But there are other ways to make a piece of writing deeply personal. When is it most powerful to go with the first person? When not? This session will look at ways to discern the answer to these questions and tactics for bringing the writer's presence into a piece no matter what pronoun is used.
Working Through Cliché
Working Through Cliché with Michael Torres
Friday, Sept 16, 1:30 - 3:30pm
I believe we're facing crossroads all the time-literal, emotional, existential-and more often than not, we find great difficulty in expressing what it feels like when we're at these junctures of our lives. At first, it might be easier to lean on cliché-those broad, catch-all phrases-but they can never, genuinely, capture what it is we're going through. In this generative workshop, we'll turn cliché in our favor and discuss how we can use it as an entryway into a truer, more complicated space for language and emotion. We'll also take a look at ideas from writers George Saunders, Morgan Parker, Matthew Zapruder, and more, to help us understand the importance of moving beyond the cliché and our initial writing impulses. I'll provide writing prompts and poems as prompts so that by the end of our time together you'll have the beginning drafts of several different poems.
For other registration options, please call 920-868-1457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 2001: in the wake of 9/11, Paris is living in a state of fear. For Aimée Leduc, November is bittersweet: the anniversary of her father's death and her daughter's third birthday fall on the same day. A gathering for family and friends is disrupted when a bomb goes off at the police laboratory--and Boris Viard, the partner of Aimée's friend Michou, is found unconscious at the scene of the crime with traces of explosives under his fingernails. As Aimée scours the streets of the 15th arrondissement trying to learn the truth, she has to ask herself if she should succumb to pressure from Chloe's biological father and move them out to his farm in Brittany. But could Aimée Leduc ever leave Paris?
It's the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer "Fish" Branson and Dale "Bread" Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don't talk about.
One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.
Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish's mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who's having doubts about a life in law enforcement.
The adults track the boys toward the novel's heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.
In Rooted, cutting-edge science supports a truth that poets, artists, mystics, and earth-based cultures across the world have proclaimed over millennia: life on this planet is radically interconnected. Our bodies, thoughts, minds, and spirits are affected by the whole of nature, and they affect this whole in return. In this time of crisis, how can we best live upon our imperiled, beloved earth?
Award-winning writer Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s highly personal new book is a brilliant invitation to live with the earth in both simple and profound ways—from walking barefoot in the woods and reimagining our relationship with animals and trees, to examining the very language we use to describe and think about nature. She invokes rootedness as a way of being in concert with the wilderness—and wildness—that sustains humans and all of life.
“With her deep Intuition and expansive attention as our guides, Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s gorgeous words create a path to the place where science and spirit meet. It’s a barefoot path that wanders through solitudes and into community with frogs, moose, orca and our own wildness.”—Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass
An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.
Who do we belong to? This is the question Michael Torres ponders as he explores the roles that names, hometown, language, and others' perceptions each play on our understanding of ourselves in An Incomplete List of Names. More than a boyhood ballad or a coming-of-age story, this collection illuminates the artist's struggle to make sense of the disparate identities others have forced upon him.
His description of his childhood is both idyllic and nightmarish, sometimes veering between the two extremes, sometimes a surreal combination of both at once. He calls himself "the Pachuco's grandson" or REMEK or Michael, depending on the context, and others follow his lead. He worries about losing his identification card, lest someone mistake his brown skin for evidence of a crime he never committed. He wonders what his students-imprisoned men who remind him of his high school friends and his own brother-make of him. He wonders how often his neighbors think about where he came from, if they ever do imagine where he came from.
When Torres returns to his hometown to find the layers of spray-painted evidence he and his boyhood friends left behind to prove their existence have been washed away by well-meaning municipal workers, he wonders how to collect a list of names that could match the eloquent truths those bubbled letters once secured.
Felicia "Fe Fe" Stevens is living with her vigilantly loving mother and older teenaged brother, whom she adores, in building 4950 of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. It's the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She, with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, form a tentative trio and, for a brief moment, carve out for themselves a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend, Tonya, into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls.
As their beloved neighborhood falls down around them, so too do their friendships and the structures of the four girls' families. Fe Fe must make the painful decision of whom she can trust and whom she must let go. Decades later, as she remembers that fateful summer-just before her home was demolished, her life uprooted, and community forever changed-Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.
Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one's own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home - both in one's history and in one's self.