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Richard Blanco to headline Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference

By Staff | Oct 29, 2013

Richard Blanco. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) invites aspiring writers and other devotees of the written word to attend the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Nov. 7-10, at BIG ARTS and The Sanibel Island Public Library on Sanibel. Participants can now register for a variety of workshops, panels, lectures and readings presented by celebrated and experienced writers and teachers.

Richard Blanco, Dan Bern, and Craig Finn headline the conference.

Keynote Speaker Blanco is the author of several award-winning poetry collections, including, most recently, “Looking for the Gulf Motel.” His poem “Boston Strong,” written in response to the tragic attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon, was recently published as a chapbook by the University of Pittsburg Press. Proceeds from the sales of “Boston Strong” benefit The One Fund Boston. In 2013, Blanco was selected by President Obama to be the inaugural poet, joining the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

Poet Emma Trelles (“Tropicalia,” winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, and “Little Spells”) will read before Blanco’s keynote address at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 in Schein Hall at BIG Arts, 900 Dunlop Road. The event is free and open to the public.

On Friday, Nov. 8, celebrated singer-songwriter Dan Bern returns to Sanibel for his third concert at the conference. Bern has released over 20 albums and ep’s, including “Fifty Eggs,” “Drifter,” “Doubleheader,” “New American Language,” and the children’s album “2 Feet Tall.” Bern’s songs were featured in the films “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” “Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains,” and “Get Him to the Greek.” He’s also the author of the novel “Quitting Science” and the children’s book “Cleaver the Gronk.”

"Looking for The Gulf Motel" by Richard Blanco. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Author Darin Strauss (National Book Critics Circle Award winner “Half a Life: A Memoir” and bestselling novels “Chang and Eng” and “More Than it Hurts You”) reads before Bern’s performance. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, singer-songwriter Craig Finn performs a solo concert. Finn is best known as the leader of Brooklyn band The Hold Steady, whose albums have consistently landed on many critics’ “best-of-the-year” lists. In 2012, Finn released his first solo album, “Clear Heart Full Eyes.”

Author Kristen Iversen (“Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats,” winner of the 2013 Colorado Book Award and the Reading the West Book Award in Nonfiction) will read before Finn’s concert. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

In addition to the artists mentioned above, the conference offers workshops, presentations, panels and readings from the following authors, editors and literary agents:

Steve Almond (creative nonfiction), Lynne Barrett (fiction/editor), Lisa Borders (fiction), Margaret Cardillo (children’s literature), Christopher Castellani (fiction), Brock Clarke (fiction), Ron Currie Jr. (fiction), John Dufresne (screenwriting), Beth Ann Fennelly (poetry), Roxane Gay (nonfiction), Tim Parrish (nonfiction), Benjamin Percy (fiction), Nahid Rachlin (nonfiction), Kathleen Rooney (poetry), Christopher Schelling (literary agent), Michael Steinberg (nonfiction), Johnny Temple (editor and publisher), Laura Valeri (fiction), Alexis Washam (editor), and Robert Wilder (nonfiction).

For a complete schedule, registration fees and other information, visit fgcu.edu/siwc or contact Tom DeMarchi at 590-7421.