UND Writers Conference 2022


Claire Arneson, General Reporter

The University of North Dakota’s English Department recently put on the 53rd Annual Writers Conference. Although the University was founded in 1883, the writer’s conference began in 1970. The event has gradually grown into a vast public event for UND students and the general public. The conference’s homepage notes explicitly that “The UND Writers Conference is committed to community outreach, engagement, and finding ways to increase audience access to literature.” This year’s theme was “Communities and the Individual,” and had six featured authors: Hanif Abdurraqib, Jessica Bruder, Kelli Jo Ford, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Sarah Vogel. This three-day event was a hybrid event; with some events in-person and  others online via Zoom. Sessions included panels, presentations, readings, workshops, and chances for people to share their work with others. 


A notable reading that was experienced hailed from Voices of the Valley, who make frequent appearances at the Writers Conference. This organization has a theme that new and experienced writers alike can write about every year, such as childhood, the environment, etc. The nonprofits theme this year was “Family History and Legacies.” Writers and readers prepared pieces about their unique history and perspectives. Works ranged from grandparents and their stories, religion, and motherhood. They were given the opportunity to share their accounts with the audience; they will be published in the 8th volume of Voices of the Valley. All writers that were featured hailed from the Red River Valley or have family in the area.


The writing conference also offered panels that involved topics such as “work,” “family,” and “life.” They were moderated by different faculty members from UND and featured the authors as stated above. The panel featured on Saturday revolving around “life” was joined by Hanif Abdurraqib, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Cal Lane. Abdurraqib is notably known as a poet and essay writer. He has been published in many places, including the New York Times and Penguin Random House. Greenidge has written novels and is an opinion writer for the New York Times. Lastly, Lane is a renowned sculptor with pieces standing all around the world. Questions asked regarded their accomplished work and what their everyday lives look like with their work. They talked about the loneliness of their work and how they find joy in learning about the past, whether that be past media, objects, or stories that inspire their work. 


As an English Major and a big fan of UND’s English department, the 2022 Writers Conference provided many talented writers a place to share their feelings, legacies, and stories. The diverse genre that each person specialized in kept me engaged and aware of the stories that I could share of my own life. Even if you are not an English major, or haven’t written a word in your life, the Writers Conference provides one with different views and voices to be seen and heard. If you’re ready to listen, you can access the digital recordings of the discussion on the UND’s Writing Conference website.

Claire Arneson is Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].