Schedule & Craft Talk Descriptions

On January 27 – 28, 2017, the English Department at Eastern Illinois University will host LIONS IN WINTER, an annual literary festival. The 2017 keynote reading will be given by Laura van den Berg. Craft talks and featured readings are by Janice N. Harrington, Dionne Irving, James Davis May, and Erica Wright. Members of the editors’ panel include staff from Bluestem and Guernica.

Registration is required for all events UNLESS noted as “open to the public.” The free and open to the public events include the Friday and Saturday evening readings with all the authors, and the Saturday morning children’s story-hour.

All events will occur in the Doudna Fine Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University. The exception to this is the Saturday morning story hour, which takes place at EIU’s Booth Library.




Friday,  January 27th

Lions in Winter Keynote Reading, Featuring Laura van den Berg
Free and Open to the Public [Doudna Lecture Hall]
Book Signing to Follow

Performance by bluegrass/rap act, Gangstagrass
*Additional ticket required. Call 217-581-3110 for purchase.  [Doudna Concert Hall]

Saturday,  January 28th

Continental Breakfast and Welcome [Doudna Concourse]
*If you have not purchased a breakfast ticket with your registration, you may do so at the registration desk.

Bookfair [Doudna Concourse]
Free and Open to the Public

Craft Talk with Members of Gangstagrass
“How to Write Rap Lyrics”
[Doudna, Room 1360 (Choral/Jazz Rehearsal Room)]

Craft Talk with Fiction Writer Erica Wright
“Where to Hide the Body: Starting a Mystery”
[Doudna, Room 1524]

Story Hour with Children’s Author Janice Harrington
[Booth Library, Ballenger Teachers Center]
Free and Open to the Public For children ages 3-7 accompanied by an adult.

Craft Talk with Keynote Speaker Laura van den Berg
“The Blazing Thing: Imagination in Fiction”
[Doudna, Room 1360 (Choral/Jazz Rehearsal Room)]

Lunch [Doudna Concourse]
*If you have not purchased a lunch ticket with your registration, you may do so at the registration desk.

Craft Talk with Creative Non-Fiction Writer Dionne Irving
“Personal Anthropology: Researching the Self in Memoir”

Craft Talk with Children’s Author Janice Harrington
“At the Risk of Repeating Myself: Repetition and Poetry in Picture Book Texts”
[Doudna, Room 1524]

Craft Talk with Poet James Davis May
“Hey, Baby, What’s Your Stanza?’: Mapping the Stanzaic Zodiac”
[Doudna, Room 1360 (Choral/Jazz Rehearsal Room)]

Editors’ Panel Discussion
Hear the editors of Bluestem, Guernica and other featured journals talk about the submission process, literary citizenship, and helpful do’s and don’ts.
[Doudna Lecture Hall]

Undergraduate Reading
Students from nearby universities are coming together to present their creative work.
Free and Open to the Public [Doudna’s Red Room]

Visiting Writers Reading Featuring James Davis May, Dionne Irving, and Erica Wright
Free and Open to the Public [Doudna Lecture Hall]
Book Signing and Reception to Follow





The Blazing Thing: Imagination in Fiction
Fiction Craft Talk by Laura van den Berg

GetFileAttachment-2In “Telling Tails,” Tim O’Brien writes, “In fiction workshops, we tend to focus on matters of verisimilitude largely because such issues are so much easier to talk about than the failure of imagination… So we nibble at the margins, shying away from the central difficulty.” The word “imagination” often comes up in dialogues about fiction, but what does it mean for fiction to be imaginative? And how can we encourage our own imaginations to move in new, unanticipated directions? This talk/class will aim to engage that “central difficulty.”

At the Risk of Repeating Myself: Repetition and Poetry in Picture Book Texts
Children’s Author/Illustrator Craft Talk by Janice Harrington

GetFileAttachmentIn this workshop discussion, Harrington will discuss anaphora and other patterns used by authors to structure picture book texts. Participants will write poetry and several scenes for a picture book of their own.



Personal Anthology: Researching the Self in Memoir

Essayist Craft Talk by Dionne Irving

The idea of self, of one’s “personhood,” is defined by culture, biology, and history–things both outside and inside of us. And yet sometimes, writers of memoir fall into the realm of extended navel gazing because doing so keeps the focus entirely on the internal. Investigating elements outside of ourselves can deepen and extend any nonfiction project, and understanding ourselves in relation to the external world can add dimension to memoir. This talk will consider the ways in which science, social and political history, place, and culture can be incorporated into the memoir to deepen the meaning and enhance the shape of our individual narratives.

“Hey, Baby, What’s Your Stanza?”: Mapping the Stanzaic Zodiac
Poetry Craft Talk by James Davis May

GetFileAttachment-1When we classify stanzas, we poets tend to stick to physical features. “How many lines does it have?” we ask. “And what’s the rhyme scheme?” While this approach is useful, it limits our understanding to the stanza’s physical features, which is a little like counting the sides of a structure to determine what kind of building it is—it doesn’t tell us anything about character. What about that stanza’s attitude? What about its essence? This craft talk will consider stanzas as personalities, and, like any horoscope, it will offer advice on what stanza is right for you.


Where to Hide the Body: Starting a Mystery
Fiction Craft Talk by Erica Wright

GetFileAttachment-3Often in noir, the setting is as much a character as the hero or villain. It’s impossible to imagine L.A. Confidential as Louisville Confidential or Sherlock Holmes living anywhere besides Baker Street (Laurie R. King’s wonderful Mary Russell series notwithstanding). Together, we’ll consider the role of place in a mystery as well as how to engage readers with those first few pages. What tools do we already have, and—this is crime writing after all—what can we steal from other genres?