Ross Gay serves as Keynote Speaker for the 2022 David R. Collins Writers' Conference at the Midwest Writing Center -- June 23 through 25. (photo by Natasha Comoda)

Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25

Midwest Writing Center, 401 19th Street, Rock Island IL

Authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more will share their talents and help strengthen the talents of others during the Midwest Writing Center's David R. Collins Writers Conference at Rock Island's Midwest Writing Center located in the downtown public library, a June 23 through 25 celebration of the written word (taking place both in-person and virtually) boasting workshops, readings, book pitches, and more.

Serving as keynote speaker for this year's conference is poet and essayist Ross Gay, the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His collection of essays The Book of Delights was released by Algonquin Books in 2019, and Gay is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens, in addition to being co-author, with Rosechard Wehrenberg, of the chapbook River. Along with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, Gay is a founding editor of the online sports magazine Some Call It Ballin’, as well as an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press, and is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. An instructor at Indiana University, Gay also works on The Tenderness Project with Shayla Lawson and Essence London and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

2022 David R. Collins Writers' Conference

Four specific, three-day writing courses will be offered during the 2022 David R. Collins Writers' Conference:

Gina Franco's poetry workshop "Poems That Move" (8:45 to 10:15 a.m.). This workshop will focus on strategies that create momentum, surprise, and emotional gravity in poems. From title and entry point, to line, turn, sensory imagery, juxtaposition, reflection, escalation, silence, and closure, the workshop will look at how expression that is compressed and arranged in compelling ways can not only give poems more emotional punch, but also guide authors toward brave revision and new ways of envisioning and making poems.

Jesus “Chuy” Renteria's memoir workshop "Mapping Our Memories for Storytelling" (10:30 a.m. to noon). In this workshop, participants will go over a process for mapping our memories, blending physical landscapes with emotional ones, to find moments that get past the “truth” and arrive at the music of storytelling.

Jennifer Colville's short-fiction workshop "Shaping the Short Story " (1:45 to 3:15 p.m.). Wonderful short stories have been written in the form of field notes, interviews, love letters, and recipes, and Poe and Aristotle suggest some ground rules. In this workshop, writers will employ these rules as a basic armature, and from there work toward guiding stories toward their rightfully traditional or yet-to-be-invented shapes.

LaTanya McQueen's novel workshop "Elements of Scene" (3:30 to 5 p.m.). Scenes play a key role in a novel’s structure, and in this workshop, attendees will examine the different components of scene-building to learn how they can be manipulated and amplified to certain effects in writing, as well as strategies for revision. Whether you’ve been working on a novel or are wanting to start something new, this course will provide you with approaches for moving forward.

Additional events in the 2022 conference include Gay's appearance at a special livestream event on June 23 and a virtual master class on June 24; a June 24 Conference Faculty Reading and Participant Open Mic at Rock Island venue Rozz-Tox; and numerous 10-minute opportunities to pitch your book to Jodie Toohey from Legacy Book Press and/or representatives from MWC Press.

For more information on all of the events in this year's June 23 through 25 David R. Collins Writers' Conference, and to register for conference workshops, call the Midwest Writing Center at (309)732-7330 and visit

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