Newsroom

July 29, 1998

73rd Annual Session of Middlebury College's Bread Loaf Writers' Conference to Begin August 12

"I came to Bread Loaf when I was 18 years old, a newcomer in this culture and language. It as my first contact with a community of writers in this country, and it's where I first began to imagine that I could be a writer." -- Julia Alvarez, author of "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent" and "In the Time of the Butterflies"

The 73rd annual session of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, from August 12-22, will convene at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in the Green Mountain National Forest in Ripton, Vt. The public is invited to numerous free conference lectures and readings.

The oldest writers' conference in America, Bread Loaf provides all writers, at all levels of artistic development, the opportunity to come together to talk about the craft of writing. The conference emphasizes small workshops and frank consideration of literary writing and publishing. Supplementary classes, taught by faculty and fellows, focus on specific aspects of craft. Participants meet in small groups with agents, editors and publishers. Those who are actively submitting manuscripts for publication may also have an individual meeting.

In 1866, Joseph Battell opened the Bread Loaf Inn and invited his friends and paying guests to come. Ultimately, Battell purchased more than 30,000 acres of forest and farmland in the mountains and, in 1915, willed all of it to Middlebury College. The College decided to use Bread Loaf to house a graduate school of English and American Literature. Robert Frost, then living in South Shaftsbury, suggested that Bread Loaf was the perfect setting for new writing to be nourished and encouraged. Willa Cather, Katherine Lee Bates, Edwin Markham, and Louis Untermeyer similarly praised Bread Loaf over more formal college settings. At Middlebury College's request, John Farrar, a young editor, organized a teaching staff and program for the 1926 "Conferences on Writing," later to be known as the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Bread Loaf continues its rich intellectual tradition by gathering a talented and diverse faculty. The teaching staff has long consisted of some of the most distinguished writers in the country, routinely featuring winners of such major honors as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Stephen Vincent Benet, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, and Isaac Asimov are among the writers who have taught at the conference. Those who have attended include Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Theodore Roethke, and Toni Morrison.

Special guest faculty members at this year's conference include John Elder, Linda Pastan, Stanley Plumly and Alastair Reid. Elder is the Stewart Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, where he has taught for 24 years. Both in his teaching and writing, he focuses on the relationship between literature and the natural world. His most recent book is Reading the Mountains of Home. Pastan's most recent work is Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-98. Pastan has won many awards for her poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995. Plumly has published six books of poems, including, most recently, The Marriage in the Trees. He has also won six Pushcart Prizes, and is presently a member of the department of English at the University of Maryland. Reid is a poet, prose writer, a translator and a traveler. He has published more than 20 books. His most recent work, An Alastair Reid Reader, is a selection of his poetry and prose.

Special events include a reading by Louise Glück, critic, teacher, Pulitzer Prize winner and Vermont State Poet. Glück, who received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College in 1996, will read from her work on August 17 at 4:15 p.m.

All readings, lectures and conference events open to the public will be held in the Little Theatre at the Bread Loaf campus, located north of the village of Ripton on Route 125, and will take place during the conference from August 12-22.

A detailed schedule of events follows. All lectures and readings are free and open to the public, and will be given in the Little Theatre at the Bread Loaf Campus, located north of the village of Ripton on Route 125. Those who wish to attend should call the Bread Loaf campus at (802) 388-7945 after August 9 to ensure there have been no scheduling changes.

Schedule of Events:

Wednesday, August 12

8:15 p.m. Readings by Michael Collier, Susan Orlean and André Brink. Collier, an award-winning poet, is director of the conference, and is currently on the English and writing faculty at the University of Maryland. Collier is also a member of the conference's nonfiction faculty. Susan Orlean is the author of The Orchid Thief, which will be published in 1999, and Saturday Night. She is staff writer for The New Yorker. Brink, a member of the conference's fiction faculty, is a professor of English at the University of Cape Town. His many novels include A Dry White Season, An Act of Terror, and Imaginings of Sand. Intimate Lightning will appear in 1998.

Thursday, August 13

9 a.m. Lecture by David Bradley, author of two novels, South Street and the Chaneysville Incident, which was awarded the 1982 PEN/Faulkner Award and the Academy Award from the American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters. Bradley is a member of the conference's fiction faculty.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Stanley Plumly and Linda Pastan. Plumly is an award-winning poet who has published six books of poems, including, most recently, Boy on the Step. He is presently a member of the department of English at the University of Maryland, and is a special guest of the conference. Pastan's most recent work is Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998. Pastan has won many awards for her poetry, and served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-95. Pastan is also a special guest of the conference.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Jeffrey Harrison and Richard Bausch. Harrison, a poet, has published Signs of Arrival, and teaches at Phillips Andover. Bausch's eighth novel, In the Night Season, is due out this spring. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, Bausch was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 1995, and is Heritage Professor of Writing at George Mason University. He is a member of the conference's fiction faculty.

Friday, August 14

9 a.m. Lecture by Charles Baxter. Baxter is the author of four books of short fiction, most recently, Believers. He has also published two novels, and is currently on the faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Baxter is a member of the conference's fiction faculty.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Carol Frost and Helena Viramontes. Frost is the author of, most recently, Venus and Don Juan and Pure. The recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and two Pushcart prizes, Frost teaches at Hartwick College, where she directs the Catskill Poetry Workshop, and is a member of the conference's poetry faculty. Viramontes is the author of the novel, Under the Feet of Jesus, has published a collection of short stories, and teaches at Cornell University.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Terry Tempest Williams and Eric Darton. Williams most recent work is Desert Quiet. She is the Shirley Sutton Thomas Visiting Professor of English at the University of Utah, and the recipient of Lannan and Guggenheim fellowships, as well as the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Award for Special Achievement. Williams is a member of the conference's nonfiction faculty. Darton is the author of the novel, Free City, and teaches media, technology and cultural studies at Hunter College in New York City.

Saturday, August 15

9 a.m. Lecture by Agha Shahid Ali, director of the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Ali's most recent collection of poetry is The Country Without a Post Office. Ali is a member of the conference's poetry faculty.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Sigrid Nunez and Lesley Dauer. Nunez, a member of the conference's fiction faculty, is the author of the novels Naked Sleeper and A Feather on the Breath of God, and has received two Pushcart prizes, a General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers, and a Whiting Writer's Award. Dauer is a poet, has published The Fragile City, and is a reading and writing tutor for junior high and high school students.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Carl Phillips and Norah Labiner. Phillips' three collections of poetry are From the Devotions; Cortege, a finalist for the 1995 National Book Critics Award; and In the Blood, the 1992 winner of the Samual French Morse Poetry Prize. Phillips is a member of the conference's poetry faculty. Labiner is the author of the novel, Our Sometime Sister, and holds a master's in English from the University of Minnesota.

Sunday, August 16

4:15 p.m.

Student Readings.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Dagoberto Gilb, Jennifer Brice and Judy Budnitz. Gilb's work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim and Whiting Foundations. The Magic of Blood won the Hemingway Foundation Award. Gilb is a member of the conference's fiction faculty. Brice is the author of The Last Settlers, and has an M.F.A. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she teaches. Budnitz is the author of Flying Leap, a book of stories, and is completing her M.F.A. at Columbia University.

Monday, August 17

9 a.m. Lecture by André Brink.

4:15 p.m. Reading by Louise Glück, critic, teacher, Pulitzer Prize winner and Vermont State Poet.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Alec Wilkinson and Ann Townsend. Wilkinson, a member of the conference's nonfiction faculty, is the author of five books, a member of the conference's nonfiction faculty, a recipient of Lyndhurst Prize, a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He is a writer for The New Yorker and contributor to Double Take. Townsend, a poet, has published Dime Store Erotics, and teaches English at Denison University.

Tuesday, August 18

9 a.m. Lecture by Carol Frost.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Sarah Schulman and Michael Loncar. Schulman, a playwright and author of eight books, is currently collaborating on "Red, White and Black," a musical. She was a 1997 finalist for the Prix de Rome and has received a Fulbright, an American Library Association Book Award, and a Revson Fellowship for the Future of New York City at Columbia University. She is a member of the conference's fiction faculty. Loncar, a poet, teaches English and film studies at the University of Michigan and has published 66 galaxie.

8:15 p.m. Readings by C. D. Wright and Patrick Kavanagh. Wright, a member of the conference's poetry faculty, has published eight collections of poetry, most recently Tremble and Just Whistle, a booklength poem. The recipient of several poetry prizes, awards and fellowships, Wright teaches at Brown University and is an editor for Lost Roads Publishers. Kavanaugh, author of the novel Gaff Topsails, has also published opinion features, reviews and short stories.

Wednesday, August 19

9 a.m. Lecture by C. D. Wright.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Steve Orlen and Calvin Baker. Orlen, a member of the conference's poetry faculty, has published four books of poetry, won three National Endowment of the Arts Awards, and several other poetry awards. He teaches in the M.F.A. Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Baker is the author of the novel Naming the World, and has worked as a reporter and staff writer for People.

8:15 p.m. Readings David Bradley and Anne Caston. Caston, a poet, has published Flying Out With the Wounded, and teaches at St. Mary's College and Charles Community College in Maryland.

Thursday, August 20

9 a.m. Readings by Roland Flint, John Keene and Joyce Hinnefeld. Flint, a member of the conference's poetry faculty, has published three chapbooks, six books of poems, and three books of translations from the Bulgarian. He taught at Georgetown University for almost 30 years, and is currently Poet Laureate of Maryland. Keene is the author of the novel New Directions, has been a lecturer at the University of Virginia, managing editor of Callaloo, and is presently a New York Times Fellow at NYU. Hinnefeld is the author of Tell Me Everything and Other Stories and teaches at Moravia College in Pennsylvania.

4:15 p.m. Alastair Reid will talk on Jorge Luis Borges, in the Little Theatre.

8:15 p.m. Performance by Vermont Symphony Trio.

Friday, August 21

9 a.m. Readings by Ursula Hegi and David Gewanter. Hegi is the author of six books. She is the recipient of many grants and awards, including an NEA Fellowship and a PEN/Faulkner Nomination, and is a member of the conference's fiction faculty. Gewanter, a poet, has published In the Belly, and teaches at Georgetown University.

4:15 p.m. Readings by Shelby Hearon and Janet Sylvester. Hearon, who makes her home in Burlington, Vt., is the author of 14 novels, including Owning Jolene, which won the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Letters Literature Award. Hearon is a member of the conference's fiction faculty, and is a visiting professor at Middlebury College. Sylvester, a poet, has published Mark of Flesh, and is also the author of That Mulberry Wine. She teaches at the University of South Carolina.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Agha Shahid Ali and Martha Cooley. Cooley is the author of the novel The Archivist and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Saturday, August 22

2 p.m. Readings by Robert Cohen and Claudia Johnson. Cohen, currently teaching at Middlebury College, is the author of two novels, and his stories have appeared in Harper's, Paris Review, GQ, Antaeus and other magazines. He is the recipient of several writing awards, and is a member of the conference's fiction faculty.

8:15 p.m. Readings by Charles Baxter and Frederick Reiken. Reiken, author of the novel The Odd Sea, is a reporter and nature writer.