2012 Ministry of Writing Colloquium Featuring Sharman Apt Russell

2012 Ministry of Writing Colloquium
November 2-3, 2012
Featuring Keynote Speaker Sharman Apt Russell

Keynote Speaker [video]

Sharman Apt Russell Photo

Sharman Apt Russell is an award-winning nature and science writer. Featured in Booklist’s top ten books in religion, her Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist (Basic Books, 2008) was described by Stephen Prothero as  “an elegant meditation on what it means to inhabit a world where nothing is profane, a testament to the power of stories—not least, this one—to bend us in the direction of God, which is to say toward our truest selves.”  The San Francisco Chronicle calls her writing “luminous” and the Sunday Times in London says, “Every page holds a revelation.”  Her connections to the natural world are personal, embedded in her experiences as a daughter, mother, wife, and citizen, and her interests are broad--from her exploration of the physical and social dimensions of hunger in Hunger: An Unnatural History (Perseus Books, 2005) to her celebration of pollination ecology in Anatomy of a Rose and An Obsession with Butterflies (Perseus Books, 2001 and 2003).

Her keynote address “The Scripture of Snail and Fern” looks at nature and science writing as powerful expressions of spirituality-- and mysticism, a witnessing of the beauty of the world that can inspire gratitude and deepen wonder.  Her workshop session will continue that conversation.

Schedule of Events

November 2


6:30 pm


7:00 pm

An evening with the presenters: session leaders read from their works



Saturday, November 3


8:15 am


9:00 am


9:30 am

Keynote Presentation: Sharman Apt Russel
The Scripture of Snail and Fern [video]

10:30 am


10:45 am

Workshop Session I (choose one)


Promotion in 140 Characters or Fewer: Getting Noticed in the E-World - Brent Bill
Translating the Other, Translating the Self - David Lee Garrison
Writing for Peace through Nonfiction - Judi Hetrick
"In the Beginning...": Creating Origin Stories - Jennie Kiffmeyer
Making the Turn: I and Thou, Him and Her, U and Me - Susan Neville
The Scripture of Snail and Fern - Sharman Apt Russel
Book Basics 101: The Road to Publication - Amy Lyles Wilson

12:15 pm


1:30 pm

Workshop Session II (choose one)


Promotion in 140 Characters or Fewer: Getting Noticed in the E-World - Brent Bill
Translating the Other, Translating the Self - David Lee Garrison
Writing for Peace through Nonfiction - Judi Hetrick
"In the Beginning...": Creating Origin Stories - Jennie Kiffmeyer
Making the Turn: I and Thou, Him and Her, U and Me - Susan Neville
The Scripture of Snail and Fern - Sharman Apt Russel
Author/Editor Meetings - Amy Lyles Wilson

2:45 pm



Closing Gathering


Announcement of Mullen Writing Fellowship


Autograph Party and Refreshments

4:30-6:30 pm

Coffee House and Open Mic

About our workshop session leaders:

Brent Bill

Promotion in 140 Characters or Fewer: Getting Noticed in the E-World
You’ve done the writing, now it’s on to the business of being a writer, notably marketing your work in an electronic age.  We’ll explore various ways to connect with your e-public via blogging, facebooking, tweeting, linking-in, tumblring, websiting, amazon-ing, you-tubing, and more.  Please bring your suggestions
of “electronic author stuff” that you think works to share with the group.

Brent Bill is the author of eighteen books and a contributor to six others, including the acclaimed Awakening Your Senses: Exercises to Experience the Wonder of God (InterVarsity Press), co-written with Beth Booram. He has published more than 100 magazine articles. A Friends minister, Brent is also a retreat leader and photographer.

David Lee Garrison

Translating the Other, Translating the Self

Cervantes said that a person with a second language has a second soul, and translation offers us the opportunity to work with the language and within the soul of another writer.  It can also lead to new kinds of self-expression, to language and to poems that we did not realize we had inside us.  In this workshop, we will study short Spanish texts and go from there to our own creations.  Literal translations will be provided as a starting point; no knowledge of Spanish will be necessary. 

David Lee Garrison taught Spanish, Portuguese, and Comparative Literature at Wright State University from 1979-2009.  Two poems from his book, Sweeping the Cemetery, were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and another was featured by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry.  With Terry Hermsen, Garrison co-edited the small press best seller, O Taste and See: Food Poems.  His most recent translation from Spanish is a book by Pedro Salinas, Seguro azar / Certain Chance; his new book of poems is Bach in the DC Metro

Judi Hetrick

Writing for Peace through Nonfiction

Theorists of  “peace journalism” contend that writers who do not consciously consider the frames of their narratives about conflict may unknowingly practice dualistic us-vs.-them “war journalism.” In the spring of 2012, undergraduate journalism students at Earlham College studied peace journalism as a nuanced approach to reporting and writing, then put what they had learned into action by reporting on developments in Nigeria. Students and their professor, Judi Hetrick, will talk about their experiences and offer participants a chance to practice the framing advocated by “peace journalism” theory into their own writing.  This workshop should interest all writers interested in promoting peace, not just journalists.

Judi Hetrick has taught journalism at Earlham College for six years.  She earned her Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University and she is interested in the intersections of the worlds of officialdom and everyday people.

Judi Hetrick

Jennie Kiffmeyer

"In the Beginning...": Creating Origin Stories

When meeting someone new, we invariably ask, "where are you from?" The Bible begins simply "in the beginning." Why are we so interested in stories of origins? What do they tell us about God's world and our place in it? In this workshop with storyteller Jennie Kiffmeyer, we will explore these questions by writing personal origin stories and listening to narratives from the Bible and other sacred sources.

An award-wining storyteller, actor and radio commentator, Jennie Kiffmeyer loves telling and writing stories. Past venues include the Washington, D.C. Folk Festival, the National Cathedral, Indiana Historical Society, and the Richmond Civic Theatre. Currently, she is touring her one-woman show, “Rivertown Dispatch.”

Susan Neville

Making the Turn:  I and Thou, Him and Her, U and Me

This is a workshop about writing creative nonfiction that stems from personal experience, and in particular about point-of-view.  When and how does the “I” in the personal essay become universal?  How can developing an inward gaze from memory, observation and reading become a gaze away from the self?  What are the ethics of writing about the “other” when it's, say, a family member?  We'll look at examples from writers of creative nonfiction and, in the workshop, we'll try some exercises you can incorporate into your own writing practice, and in particular we'll practice “making the turn.” 

Susan Neville is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including the spiritual autobiography Iconography and the edited collection Falling Toward Grace. Her two collections of fiction include In the House of Blue Lights, winner of th Richard Sullivan Prize and a "best book of the year" according to the Chicag Tribune as well as Invention of Flight, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award. Other books include Sailing the Inland Sea; Fabrication, Essays on Making Things an Making Meaning;  Twilight in Arcadia; and Butler's Big Dance.  She is the Demi Butler Professor of English at Butler University and teaches in the Warren Wilso M.F.A. Program for Writers.

Sharman Apt Russell

The Scripture of Snail and Fern

American nature writing includes profound spiritual works from authors like Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Muir, Carson, Dillard, and others.  In that tradition, we fall in love with the Creation. The Other becomes the Beloved which becomes the Sacred.  Before coming to this workshop, take some time to observe (perhaps more deeply and closely than usual) something in the natural world (the more specific, the better) and to write a short (100-150 words) descriptive paragraph or poem.  We will begin the workshop by having participants read out loud their work. This is not required. But by starting with a quick “chorus of voices,” we will immediately see the range and depth of contemporary nature and science writing. We’ll discuss your authority as a writer in this field and some techniques of weaving research and observation with personal experience to create works of emotional and even mystical resonance.

Sharman Apt Russell is a fulltime professor of Humanities at Western New Mexico University and also teaches at the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her awards include a Writers at Work Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Henry Joseph Jackson Award in Nonfiction, a Pushcart Prize, and a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. She is now at work on an article for National Geographic and a book project about citizen scientists, for which she is studying the charismatic Western Red-bellied Tiger Beetle. Her books have been translated into a number of languages, including Chinese, Russian, Polish, Korean, Portuguese, Swedish, German, and Spanish.

Amy Lyles Wilson

Book Basics 101: The Road to Publication

You’ve got an idea for a book, but you’re not sure what to do with it. Or maybe your manuscript has been revised and proofread and you’re in a quandary about getting it out into the world. This morning-only workshop will cover the nuts and bolts of today’s publishing climate, and will include such topics as self-publishing, getting an agent, and the realities of the traditional publishing model. Real-world examples, along with creative prompts and supportive discussion, will encourage participants to take the next step with their project.

During the afternoon, writers who have prepared a book proposal may schedule a brief conference. To be considered for an afternoon conference, submit your proposals to Mandy Ford (fordma@earlham.edu) three weeks prior to the colloquium.

Amy Lyles Wilson has worked in magazine and book publishing since receiving her master’s degree in journalism in 1986. She served as the Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at the Earlham School of Religion in 2003, and will be an adjunct professor at ESR in 2013. Wilson earned her master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School in 2007. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, as well as on National Public Radio. She is an affiliate of Amherst Writers and Artists, and makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

The colloquium will be held in the ESR Center at the northeast corner of the Earlham Campus. A $65 registration fee ($70 late registraion fee, and $25 for students) covers all colloquium events, including Friday night readings, all plenary sessions and workshops, Saturday continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments, and the reading/open mic Saturday night.

*Printable PDF registration form*

For more information, contact Mandy Ford, Director of External Relations at (765) 973-2158 or email fordma@earlham.edu.

Event Date: 11/02/2012 (All day) - 11/03/2012 (All day)