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Writers Conference features award-winning writers with Texas connections

Speakers focus on different cultures

By Allison Price
On February 15, 2013

 The 17th annual Writers Conference, beginning Friday, Feb. 22, will feature writer Christina Garcia and guest writers Jackie Rosenfeld and Carmen Tafolla.

Kornasky said the conference focuses on inviting writers with Texas connections.

"We consider it very important that we encourage creative writing here in the state of Texas, both for up-and-coming writers and for well-established writers," Kornasky said.

Garcia, a native Cuban and creative writing professor at Texas Tech University, is the author of six novels, including "The Lesser Tragedy of Death," "A Handbook to Luck" and "Dreaming in Cuban," according to the Writers Conference webpage. Garcia draws from stories about her native land, and focuses on controversial issues around her heritage, Kornasky said.

"[Garcia] is very much focused on the Cuban American experience and various Cuban American legends, cultural myths, etc.," Kornasky said.

Senior Amanda Hill said the overall focus of the conference is important to different issues in today's society.

"I think there is a shortage of Mexican-American voices and I think it is important for their voices to be heard," Hill said.

Garcia has received several awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, Whiting Writers Award and Princeton University's Hodder Fellowship, according to the Writers Conference webpage.

"Garcia has won many awards," Kornasky said. "She runs several of workshops in the Southwest for writers who want to hone their craft. She is known as an excellent workshop leader. Our students will really be able to benefit from interacting with her."

Rosenfeld, currently a senior lecturer at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, is an ASU alumna and a playwright whose most recently play, "keepingabreast," was honored, Kornasky said. "Keepingabreast" is a play about a young woman facing the decision to undergo a mastectomy after chemotherapy treatments have failed.

"This is a funny play about breast cancer," Kornasky said. "It has been cited as a very warm, funny and insightful play about the meaning of breasts in our culture. It is a very great opportunity for us to have someone from ASU to come in."

Tafolla is the Poet Laureate of San Antonio and is best known for writing poetry, some fiction and short fiction, Kornasky said.

"[Tafolla] is one of the writers who has been very prominent in the Mexican American cultural movement of the 1970s through to the present time," Kornasky said. "She is a very good person to have here as the Mexican American studies program is getting off the ground. We are very happy to have her as well."

The Writers Conference is in memoriam of San Angelo-native Elmer Kelton, who was the first speaker for the conference and an award-winning novelist, Kornasky said.

"In the past, the Writers Conference included several writers," Kornasky said.  "There were 10 to 15 sessions that would run through Thursday and Friday. This year we thought, we would still have a variety of writers but not as many so there would be a stronger focus for the conference. Naturally in the past we told everyone to go to different sessions. This time we have it more honed down to just three writers. It will be a great benefit for all the students."

Hill said she attended the Writers Conference last semester and thinks all students will benefit from attending.

"I thought the conference was very interesting because someone who has been through the publishing process is able to share that experience and their life story," Hill said.

Kornasky said every year hundreds of ASU students attend but local high school students and teachers also attend.

"It is great that we are able to serve the educational needs of our community and not just our own students at the university," Kornasky said.

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