Catching Up on Day 4 Chicago

The conference ended yesterday and while I intend to type up my notes, my friend Vondy picked me up this morning at the Hilton and we headed toward Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a few days. It seems sufficient for now, at least, to list the panels I attended and catch up on the notes later tomorrow:

F196. Flash Fast Sudden Fiction and the Short Story. (Ed Falco, Jayne Anne Phillips, John Dufresne, Steve Almond) What are the distinctions between short stories and the very short fictions variously categorized as flash fiction, sudden fiction, five-minute fiction, short short fiction, etc.? What are the impulses that lead a writer to work in very short forms rather than longer narrative forms? The writers on this panel will use examples from their own work to explore the nature of very short fiction, especially as it contrasts with the short story.

S115. Award-Winning Writing at the Intersection of Nature and Culture. (Jennifer Sahn, Christopher Cokinos, David Gessner, John Price, Debra Marquart) Once relegated to its own little box and cordoned off from other subjects, the environment is finally being recognized for what it is: everything, everywhere—which is why so-called environmental writing is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. Orion magazine has been well ahead of the curve. For twenty-six years, Orion has been publishing the most inventive and forward-looking writing about nature and culture. This panel features four writers reading and discussing their award-winning essays from Orion.

S121. Where Yearning Meets Epiphany: The Intersection of Prose Poetry and Short Short Stories. (Holly Wilson, Ron Carlson, Robert Olen Butler, Deb Olin Unferth, Oliver de la Paz, Justin Courter) This panel—composed of three short short story writers and three prose poets, most of whom have been contest judges—will investigate the convergence of the two genres. Specifically, the fiction writers will discuss their approaches to short short stories (500 words or fewer), each challenging the notion that short shorts are merely smaller versions of readily accepted short stories; the prose poets, on the other hand, will defend their art as more than merely poetry without line breaks. They will all discuss their ideologies, citing samples from their own works, in order to highlight ultimately how the genres dovetail and differ in such ways that we might come to a closer sense of defining each important genre, or to a realization that these genres resist definitions, which might prove to be the source of their current exciting status. This panel will explore the generic overlap, thereby defining the outlying distinctions, or they may discover that their similarities are so great that the main differences lie only in nomenclature, which serves to allow the authors to secure themselves in the camp of their own choosing—be it poetry or fiction.

S164. Avoiding Sick Mothers, Absent Fathers, and Losing Your Virginity: The Tropes and Traps of Nonfiction. (Susan Finch, Steve Almond, BJ Hollars, Samantha Levy, Marcia Aldrich, Jessica Pitchford) Join The Southeast Review, Black Warrior Review, Fourth Genre, and Steve Almond as they discuss the current nonfiction market and the kind of nonfiction that readers, journals, and publishers want. Editors talk about the types of nonfiction submissions they are receiving and the ones they wish they were, while critically acclaimed author, Steve Almond, offers advice on how to stand out from the slush and reads from his new book.

S174. Creative in Form, Nonfiction in Content: Perspectives on the Possibilities of Literary Nonfiction. (Michael Steinberg, Robert Root, Marcia Aldrich, Ned Stuckey-French) Since its emergence as a major literary genre, creative nonfiction’s boundaries have continued to expand. Riding a wave of experimentation that has yet to crest, it has offered us writing that demands attention, challenging writer and reader alike. This panel of editors of Fourth Genre, a leading nonfiction journal, will focus on innovations centered on the segmented, lyric, and investigative forms and how these and other forms will shape the genre’s future.

Major bummer that I missed: Charles Baxter’s reading. Ugh.
More soon.

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