Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday headlines UNT's 4th Annual Mayborn Conference

Monday, February 25, 2008

Considered one of the most famous living writers of the Southwest, N. Scott Momaday headlines the 4th Annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest, presented by the University of North Texas Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism.

Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the current poet laureate of Oklahoma, will be a featured speaker along with literary journalist and National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis; Candice Millard, former editor and writer at National Geographic and author of "River of Doubt;" Ali Wolfe, the daughter of Tom Wolfe and a literary journalist for Conde Nast Portfolio magazine; and some of the nation's leading writers, editors, literary agents and book publishers. The conference will take place July 18-20 at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, located at 1800 Highway 26 East in Grapevine near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

George Getschow, conference writer-in-residence, said Momaday "brings to his writing the great oral tradition of storytelling" and is celebrated for his poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

"Momaday brought Native American literature into the mainstream. He can teach writers how to make their nonfiction prose more lyrical and how the use of poetic language can breathe life into landscape and place," Getschow said.    

Registration has begun for the conference, which is geared toward aspiring literary nonfiction writers, established authors and journalists, and book lovers. Early registration ends March 15.

The conference offers undiscovered literary nonfiction writers the chance to compete for cash prizes and recognition within the publishing world. The conference is offering a $3,000 cash award for the first prize winner in the manuscript competition, along with a publishing option with UNT Press. The conference is also awarding $12,000 in cash prizes in two categories, $6,000 for the best research- and report-based narratives and another $6,000 to the best essays.

The deadline for submitting entries is June 13. The 10 best nonfiction narratives and essays selected by jurists will be published in the second edition of "Ten Spurs," the Mayborn's literary journal jointly published by Hearst Newspapers and the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism.

Writers of the top 20 manuscripts and the top 50 articles and essays will be selected to participate in writing workshops with some of the nation's top writers. In addition to the workshop sessions, the conference features lectures, readings and roundtable discussions.

The writing competition has allowed undiscovered writers to become established. Julie McCullach, the 2007 essay winner, has gone from writing for her church bulletin to leading a pre-conference writer's workshop since she began attended her first Mayborn Conference three years ago.

Getschow said the conference turns "craftsmen into writers."

"We're creating a new generation of writers who will sustain narrative nonfiction for generations to come," he said.

Other speakers at the conference include sportswriter Wright Thompson of ESPN.com, writer Nick Heil of Outside magazine, roving narrative reporter John Burnett of National Public Radio, book reviewer Cathleen Medwick of O, The Oprah Magazine and nonfiction book editor Dave Peterson of Henry Holt.  

The Mayborn Conference has garnered plenty of praise and publicity in its first three years. Past speakers have included three-time Nobel Prize nominee Joyce Carol Oates, new journalism pioneer Gay Talese and celebrated literary nonfiction writer Hampton Sides. At last year's conference, speaker Nan A. Talese, publisher of James Frey's memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," made headlines across the country when she took exception with Oprah Winfrey's criticism of Frey's verisimilitude.

Hampton Sides, echoing the voice of many speakers, said that's not an accident that the conference "has very quickly risen to preeminence among the nation's literary conferences." He notes the conference is "stacked with talent and smartly choreographed," with participants "whose passion for non-fiction is palpable."

"The Mayborn offers a distinctive format no other conference can match," he said.

Mayborn Conference registration is $275 for the general public before March 15 and $295 after that date. Students may register for $200 before March 15 and $225 after that date. Educators may attend for $250 if they register before March 15 and $270 afterward. Conference seating is limited.

Conference participants submitting an article or essay in the writing contest will pay an additional $30 fee. Conference participants in the manuscript contest pay an additional $60 fee.

Conference attendees can also sign up for 15-minute private consultations with literary agents during "Close Encounters of the Literary Kind." The cost is $50.


To register, visit www.TheMayborn.unt.edu. For more information, call (940) 565-4564.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108