Aaron Abeyta, from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., is the poetry workshop presenter and keynote speaker. Poets, writers, and teachers who have had the privilege of working with Aaron in a variety of workshop and classroom settings were enthusiastic about both his writing and his thoughtful approach to teaching and motivating poetry from the roots up.
Aaron says: “The poet must be both ‘piper’ and ‘bard,’ tender and turbulent, dangerous and comforting; the poet must be able to understand, as Czeslaw Milosz put it: ‘In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent: a thing brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us, so we blink our eyes….’ ( Ars Poetica)” In our correspondence he excerpted another poet from workshop material, the American, Mary Oliver: “‘…just/ pay attention, then patch/ a few words together and don’t try/ to make them elaborate, this isn’t/ a contest but the doorway…’ (from Praying). In short, we must be observant and ‘prayerful’ in our watchfulness of the world around us.”
Aaron has a B. A. in English, and an M. F. A. in Poetry from Colorado State University. His most recent collection: Letters from the Headwaters (Western Press Books) in out this year. An earlier collection, Colcha won the American Book Award for Poetry, and the Colorado Book Award. His list of publications and appearances is lengthy.
Laura Pritchett will be the featured presenter on the novel—not just the big picture and big problems, but the nitty-gritty too. Her “breakout” novel, Stars Go Blue (Counterpoint Press, 2014) was “starred” by Booklist and the Library Journal, and has been shortlisted for the MPIBA Reading the West Award for Adult Fiction: “…a brilliant novel filled with heartache and humor that will strike a chord with many readers. A heart-wrenching exploration of a family in crisis.” Laura’s collection of stories, Hell’s Bottom Colorado (Milkweed Editions, 2014), was the winner of the PEN USA award and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize.
Laura has a B. A. and an M. A. from Colorado State University, and PhD. in English from Purdue University. She is a member of the faculty of Pacific University’s MFA program. She also writes non-fiction, essay and memoir, writes nature and environmental issues; she has a fondness for re-cyclers (see: Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers; University of Oklahoma Press; 2009.).
“Kent Nelson has published more short stories than almost any other American writer in our time.” (Kent Haruf, best-selling author of Plainsong). “(Nelson’s)… descriptions of land and light create perfect backgrounds for characters who struggle to find meaningful ways to live their lives….This new collection [Spirit Bird: Stories; University of Pittsburgh Press; 2014; winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.] shows why he’s so frequently published. It’s simply because he’s so good.”Kent will be discussing many aspects of short fiction, not just crafting a good story, but getting it placed. In Kent Nelson’s workshops, he will read, critique and discuss a selection from the first 20 story openings (maximum 250 words) that are submitted directly to him by May 15at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AGENTS & EDITORS
Tiffany Schofield from Five Star Publishing (Cengage) will be travelling from “down East” to our Conference, looking for manuscripts, particularly for Five Star’s Western Mystery and Frontier Fiction division which focuses on Western stories and novels. But her interests are more inclusive.
And, Meghan Saar, senior editor of True West Magazine wants to hear pitches and give advice on the non-fiction of Western lore—history, memoir, remembrances. That is the focus of True West Magazine.