In just a few short weeks, I’ll be making my second trip to the fair city of Philadelphia since moving to western PA just a little over a year ago — this time, to serve on a panel at the bi-annual Conversations and Connections Conference. The conference is a project of Tom, Mike, and Dave, some of the editors of the wonderful Barrelhouse literary journal.
Here’s the description for the panel on which I’ll supposedly have something to say, “The Hardest Part: Writing About Traumatic Events,” which will also feature the wonderful writers Tara Murtha and Amy Butcher, as well as n+1 editor and memoirist Marco Roth.
“All non-fiction writers eventually have to face the problem of writing about emotionally difficult subjects. How do you write about traumatic experiences in a meaningful and artistic way? How do you cover controversial issues without alienating your readers? A panel of writers with extensive experience in journalism, memoir, and personal essay will discuss the challenges they’ve faced in writing about emotionally difficult materials and what techniques they use to write about these topics.”
The conference is well-worth the very small registration fee, which includes access to all panels, the keynote speak (this year, J. Robert Lennon), a ticket to the very cool speed-dating with editors event, plus, boxed wine happy hour! It’s also worth noting that all of the proceeds from the conference go directly to producing Barrelhouse, as well as back to the other journals and small presses who participate in the conference. This isn’t a money-making endeavor for a university, or a vanity affair. There’s really no other conference I know of that works quite like this one: accessible, affordable, communal, while still being incredibly useful to established or emerging writers. If you make it out — and you should — say hi!