‘Walkabout’ to kick off state writers’ conference in WB

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By Jana Mackin

Contributing Writer

A writers’ walkabout through Wrightsville Beach promises to kick start creative juices as a literary warm-up for the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2017 Fall Conference next week.

Led by University of North Carolina Wilmington lecturer and prize-winning poet Anna Lena Phillips Bell on Friday, Nov. 3, the Poetry (or Prose) Walk is intended to inspire writers as they amble through this beach side paradise, listening to crashing waves instead of buzzing cellphones. The walk slows life’s hectic overdrive to the pace of a footfall. The event is a “pre-conference tailgate” for this literary conference Nov. 3-5 that draws more than 200 writers and dozens of faculty, special guests and publishing professionals, organizers said.

“In the modern world, we are asked to be more efficient, less thoughtful,” Phillips said. “Walking can help balance that.”

“What happens when we’re walking-or moving in any fashion at a human pace is what happens in poetry. We are asked to pay attention,” she said.

Using small notebooks and literary prompts, this event is designed to “stir wonder, imagination and a sense of individual and community adventure.”

“Starting from the Holiday Inn Resort, we’ll meander through Wrightsville Beach, pausing often in the shade to write. Suggested prompts will be provided along the way. After we’ve taken in some of the town and beach and gathered lines and ideas, we’ll adjourn to the Holiday Inn Resort for a few more minutes of writing and for option sharing of the work we’ve begun,” she said. “This walk is not just for poets. I hope it will be an exercise that benefits anyone who cares about sentences.”
As a writer, Phillips focuses on the importance of place and of making a poetic, musical sense of place in its various manifestations.  She is the author of Ornament, winner of the 2016 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize, and of A Pocket Book of Forms, a travel sized guide to poetic forms.  She is the editor of the literary magazine Ecotone, and an editor for Lookout Books. She teaches in the creative writing department at UNC Wilmington. She received a BA in English and environmental studies from Guilford College, and an MFA from Emerson College.

As editor of Ecotone, Phillips said “Writing of place is what Ecotone is about-reimagining rural or urban spaces through poetry, fiction, essays, comics, and maps.”

As a member, teacher and supporter, she praises the Writers’ Network which strives to lead, promote, educate, and connect writers, at all levels of skill and experience, from across the state and beyond through programs, services and conferences.

Founded in 1985, the organization exists to help create a community for writers and provide opportunities. Presently, there are an estimated 1,300 members statewide, network officials said.

“The North Carolina Writers’ Network is such a fabulous organization. They do incredible work for writers in the state, creating a community for us that is supportive and inspiring,” she said.

This year’s fall conference will feature workshops and master classes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as lectures and panels on editing, publishing, marketing, and screenwriting.    The faculty includes poets Dan Albergotti, Peter Makuck, and Michael White; fiction writers Nina de Gramont, Jason Mott, and Michelle Young-Stone; and creative nonfiction writers Wendy Brenner, Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams, and Philip Gerard. Wiley Cash will deliver the keynote.

“The NC Writers’ Network is all about community- statewide and at a local level. This area is full of wonderful writers and local talent,” said Charles Fiore, the group’s communications director.

The fall conference was last held in Wrightsville Beach in 2013.

“For a small town, Wilmington is arguably one of the best writers’ communities in the country.  It offers a lot of local possibilities to choose from so we can fill our conference faculty from the local community with top notch instructors.”

“No matter where you are on the writer’s journey, you will feel comfortable,” said Fiore about the conference welcoming all levels of writers. “What better way to network with writers, develop friends and a support network, and give you a kick in the pants when you need it?”

More about the conference here: http://www.ncwriters.org/

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