Writing to Transform: Annual Celebration of Writers Continues Virtually

Monday, October 26, 2020

The UNCW Department of Creative Writing’s traditional celebration of the written word continues virtually with the annual Writers’ Week Nov. 2-6. Centered around the theme “Writing to Transform,” this year’s events will focus on the transformative power of writing, bringing together visiting authors, editors, students, faculty and the community in discussions of literary craft and current issues of the profession. 

Writers’ Week coordinator Emily Smith, Lookout Books’ publisher and an assistant professor in the UNCW Department of Creative Writing, said having to stage the week virtually means being able to widen the audience and offer more accessible programming, since barriers such as room capacity and traveling distance have been removed.

“We welcome those for whom traditional barriers – economic, social, and physical – might have hindered in-person participation. We welcome back alumni who no longer live in the area, prospective students and fans of our visiting authors,” she said.

Noted speakers include:
Natalie Diaz: a MacArthur and Lannan Literary Fellow, her second collection of poems, Postcolonial Love Poem, is a finalist for the National Book Award. Diaz will deliver the Buckner keynote reading Nov. 5.

Silas House: New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including Clay's Quilt and Southernmost. New faculty member Zelda Lockhart will headline a special reading and conversation with House on Nov. 3, moderated by faculty member Melody Moezzi.

Gerald Maa: poet and editor of the Georgia Review.

Sabrina Orah Mark: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and author of the Paris Review’s “Happily” column; the story collection Wild Milk, and two collections of poems.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Guggenheim Fellow and author of the illustrated nonfiction book World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, as well as four collections of poetry.

Smith and her students built a new interactive website schedule that includes titles and descriptions for events, allows guests to sort by genre and event type, and even gives them the option to change the time zone. There will also be a daily newsletter for all attendees that will include morning reminders, details of the day’s events and Zoom links. FAQs and a set of community guidelines, neither of which existed in written form before this year, are also available.

Readings, panels and most events are free and open to all. Participants can join in guided writing exercises led by faculty members each morning at 9:30 a.m. to start the day with creativity. The full schedule, speaker bios and link to preregister (required for online security) are available at

-- Caroline Cropp