The 26th Jackson Hole Writers Conference is over, but we are still receiving emails and messages about all the good things that happened. A number of registrants were asked to send more pages to an editor. People made new friends, exchanged emails and promises to network. (If anybody wants to share some photos, please send to info @ jhwriters.org)
Although Tim Sandlin, Jackson Hole Writers executive director and the man behind the conference, may be prejudiced about the conference, his comments three days later sum up our feelings about 2017:
“I say this almost every year, but this was the best of our 26 conferences. The faculty was amazing and open. The agents and editors were more accessible than any group we’ve had. After reading the manuscripts, they requested extra pages from more of our writers than ever before. The weather in Jackson Hole was even perfect. What we had is a lot of fun.”
Conference guest faculty Alyson Hagy, author of Boleto and a professor at the University of Wyoming, added her kind words as well:
“I’d just like to thank you again for including me—and Katie Dublinski (Graywolf editor) and Chris Fishbach (Coffee House publisher)—in the conference this year. I had a splendid time meeting writers, working with manuscripts, chatting with fascinating professionals and more. Also, you and your staff run a wonderful event. You make it very easy for the rest of us to get some good work done and to have a great time.
“Finally, I truly appreciate the support our UW graduate students receive from the scholarship fund. Ammon (Medina) had a fantastic time this year. It means a lot to me as a professor at the university to see such a good group in Jackson support our students.”
Guest poet Teddy Macker chimed in: “Thank you guys so much for including me. It was a beautiful experience.”
Some of the highlights
It all begins with the registration table in the lobby of The Center. Linda Hazen, Jackson Hole Writers board chair, takes charge and greets conference goers, handing out bags, bottles, schedules and advice. We sold more t-shirts this year and copies of Getting It Right. Our silent auction of critiques by notable writers, editors and agents raised money for programming and scholarships. Thank yous go out to writer and board member Nanci Turner Steveson and JHW staff member Jen Jellen for their parts in making that work. And thank you to those who participated by offering the critiques and to those who bid on them.
Behind the scenes: 18 volunteers and eight staff and board members schlepped tables, signs, books, chairs, made coffee, bought supplies and prepared for the wine and cheese reception, reading, folded tshirts, stuffed folders and bags, made signs, took down signs, emptied trash, crushed cardboard, directed people to workshops and critiques, tended the bar, introduced speakers, offered kind words. The Center’s staff helped with logistics and audio visual to make everything run smoothly.
Stellar weather meant everybody was able to be outside for the wine and cheese reception on Friday.
Saturday’s Pica’s dinner demanded participants wear sunhats and sunscreen.
Teen scholarship recipients were on-fire and attended every event, including the student reading on Saturday. We were inspired by Jackson high school students Malie Curren, Sara McWhirter, and Zoe Curran for reading and not being afraid to write with adult writers, both pros and novices. They have promised to join the JHW monthly poetry group. Although Claire Guill of San Antonio,Texas, didn’t come on a conference scholarship (her parents gifted her), she rounded out this amazing group of young writers. (More info at What’s New on this website.)
Eighty-eight people from as far away as Hawaii registered for the full conference; a couple of those folks came for one or two days. Twenty-eight of our registrants came from around Wyoming, with another five coming from over the hill in Idaho. The conference is attracting more and more writers from Colorado, Montana and Utah, with sixteen making the trip, all of which speaks to the regional appeal of the conference. But the remaining 39 came from as far away as Kentucky and Florida.
Kudos to poet Eric Paul Shaffer who switched chairs in the poetry workshops and craft talks, from teacher to student. We hope this is a new trend. He came from Hawaii to meet up with friends, resident poet Matt Daly and Colorado poet Tony Alcantara. Eric also braved the first “yoga for the deskbound” session, proving he has a great sense of humor. We will offer this again next year.
Five guest editors took an early morning Hot Air Balloon ride Saturday and got a thrill when the balloon landed on the apron of the pathways bridge that crosses the Snake River near Wilson. One editor thought it was part of the show, while another editor bailed from the basket before it landed. She wasn’t taking any chances. No names. All’s well that ends well. And one of the editors, Julia Kardon, went for a post-dawn hike around Jenny Lake by herself Sunday morning. And she’s ready to come back and explore the area more. (Sorry Jackson Hole someone else has fallen in love with our place!) So much for thinking city people aren’t into adventures in the wild.
By the time the student readings started on Saturday, there were a couple on the waiting list. The reading began with a longer reading by another Wyoming Arts Council Literary Fellowship winner, Stephen Lottridge; Stephen earned his award for creative non-fiction. We at the conference are blessed to have so many excellent writers in our own backyard and to have government support for the artists in our midst. Rachel Clifton, Public Art and Creative Sector Individual Supervisor for the WAC, attended the conference and attended the reading.
We know it’s the end of the conference when we shuttle visiting writers, agents and editors to the airport. Some went back to blazing heat in Tucson, like YA author Bill Konigsberg who was funny and insightful in his keynote talk Saturday morning. Poet Kerri Webster had a shorter trip, headed to Boise, where she is adjunct faculty at BSU. We would bring either of them back to the mountains of Jackson Hole. The photographer who is a poet was taken with the TRASH lettering–so bright and the receptacle matched Bill’s t-shirt. All in good fun. Don’t know if they were “trashed” by the intensity of the conference and jazzed to fly away with some ideas and images for their next writing project. We know we were and are. Thank you to everyone who came this year.