Creative Writing

UNCW Students Attend Chautauqua Writers’ Festival

Four UNCW creative writing students traveled to Chautauqua, New York, last month for the 14th annual Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, held June 15–18 at the historic Chautauqua Institution. In total, sixty writers attended the event, which is co-sponsored by UNCW, and features workshops in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songwriting, as well as readings, panels, and open mics alongside idyllic Chautauqua Lake.

In addition to undergraduate students Austin Brown, Spencer Conn, Keonda Davis-Bonilla, and Caroline Orth, UNCW professors Philip and Jill Gerard also attended. The Gerards are co-editors of the literary journal Chautauqua, which is published annually to coincide with the festival, and which seeks to embrace the values of the Chautauqua Institution—namely, a sense of inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance. Faculty at this year’s festival included Stewart O’Nan and Ann Pancake in fiction, Beth Ann Fennelly and Diana Hume George in nonfiction, and Lia Purpura and Marcus Wicker in poetry.

“Being at Chautauqua was a completely different pace, where your creative work and company are priorities,” says Orth, a former poetry editor for UNCW’s undergraduate literature and art magazine, Atlantis, and the recipient of the inaugural A. Farrell Teague Merit Scholarship for Rising Seniors. Orth elaborates that while the daily schedule was packed with activities, she and her fellow students quickly learned to embrace the atmosphere of tranquility encouraged by festival organizers. “Having the space to write in the morning or night, journal throughout the day, go to workshops and a reading, and still have the time to jump in the lake and go to dinner with your friends was pretty incomparable.”

pictured left to right: Keonda Davis-Bonilla, Spencer Conn, Caroline Orth, Austin Brown