Due to the rise of COVID-19 concerns in the spring of 2020, there was a cancelation of a staple event on the University of North Dakota campus, The Writers Conference. Thankfully to the efforts of both the UND English department and the perseverance of Doctor Crystal Alberts, the conference will be taking place over zoom, granting the University’s unique tradition of keeping literature and art alive.
A variety of events starting September 17, 2020, through November 19, 2020, will fascinate students, staff, and Grand Forks community members alike. These events will feature pinnacle authors and artists such as Roy G. Guzmán, author of Catrachos: a collection of poetry, Jenny Zhang, author of Sour Heart and Reginald Betts, National Magazine Award winner for his New York Times article titled “Getting Out.” These novelists, essayists and poets will conduct live readings, craft seminars, and discussion panels hosted by esteemed UND professors. Some topics include “Class and Place” or “Class and Society,” regardless of major, these panels carry interesting subject matter that everyone can be intrigued by and each viewer of these panel discussions can freely ask questions for any of the panelists.
In a quick interview with Doctor Crystal Alberts, director of the UND Writers Conference, she states that “We’re all going to miss being face-to-face, but for anyone who has been joining online events since the pandemic (for me, it’s been D-Nice’s Club Quarantine, live streams from Questlove and the latest Versus battle), you get to be a part of a community that you may not have experienced before, but you’ll keep talking about after, and the more that you log in, the more you’ll start talking to the of the crowd”.
Doctor Alberts goes on to say that “So many who has ever attended have at least one story about their time at the Conference (and sometimes pictures, and this was long before selfies) that they will share for years and decades after.”
During these uncertain times, it is best to be encouraged to take a step back and recognize that the world has not come to a complete stop. That such events like the 51st annual UND Writers Conference can still bring people together in a discussion of literature, art, and life just in a modified way.
An event schedule is on the Writers Conference, please pre-register before attending. All events are free and open to the public.
Elise Unterseher is a Dakota Student Arts and Community Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]