The Midwest Writing Center presents the David R. Collins Writers Conference -- June 24 through 26.

Thursday, June 24, through Saturday, June 26

Presented by the Midwest Writing Center

Authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more will share their talents and help strengthen the talents of others during the Midwest Writing Center's virtual David R. Collins Writers Conference, a June 24 through 26 celebration of the written word boasting workshops, readings, book pitches, and a keynote address by lauded author Allison Joseph.

A resident of Carbondale, Illinois, Joseph was born in London, England, to Caribbean parents and grew up in Toronto and the Bronx. She earned a BA from Kenyon College and an MFA from Indiana University, and is the author of many collections of poetry including Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (2018), My Father’s Kites (2010), Voice: Poems (2009), Worldly Pleasures (2004), Imitation of Life (2003), In Every Seam (1997), Soul Train (1997), and What Keeps Us Here (1992), that latter of which won a John C. Zacharis First Book Award. Of her work, which frequently joins autobiography to cultural narratives and histories of Afro-Caribbean communities, Joseph has said, “I write to be a recorder, observer, participant, and sometimes, even judge. I want to engage the world as I see it with my whole self – all those different aspects of it.” Joseph’s honors and awards include fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences and the Illinois Arts Council, and she is the recipient of a George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Allison Joseph

For burgeoning area writers, four three-day workshops will be held during this year's David R. Collins Writers Conference, all of them hosted by frequently published authors. Led by Lyz Lenz, “Writing the Personal Essay” will take you through inspiration, drafting, and revision on an essay, with the author and discussing craft, approach, research, and revisions. “Framing the Novel,” with Tariq Shah, will explore the elements of the novel through a survey of exemplary works while sampling writing exercises intended to generate new material and lend greater depth to the work already produced. In “Unabashed Gratitude in Difficult Times,” a poetry workshop with Gale Marie Thompson, participants will be reading and writing poems that attempt to find the sublime in the ordinary, studying poems by Ross Gay, Adam Zagajewski, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and others to generate their own works of gratitude. And over the course of Joe Meno's “Understanding Story Structure," fledgling authors will explore the way stories are built, using published texts and generative writing to investigate character, conflict, form shifts, and change as a way build dramatic beginnings, middles, and ends.

Additional events in this year's virtual June 24 through 26 David R. Collins Writers Conference include a poetry master class with Allison Joseph, a livestreamed faculty reading, and 10-minute book pitches with Jodie Toohey from Legacy Book Press and representatives from MWC Press. For more information on all of the conference's events and to register for workshops, call the Midwest Writing Center at (309)732-7330 or visit

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