Story Circle Network Story Circle Network

Southwestern Writers Collection

Conference home page


Keynote Speaker

  •Roommates Wanted
  •Carpool Wanted


About SCN

About SWWC

About the Book:
What Wildness is This:
Women Write
About the Southwest

Publication date: March, 2007
University of Texas Press

What Wildness is This podcast

Exhibit: What Wildness is This

Host University

Host City


Words From the Land

Newsletter Archives/Signup

Email Webmistress


A Land Full of Stories

A Conference & Celebration of Writing
about Place and Personal History

June 7-9, 2007
Alkek Library, Southwestern Writers Collection
Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas

Program / Schedule

The conference will bring together people from around the country to tell their stories of the land through personal essays, autobiographical fiction, poetry, drama, dance, music, art and more. A wide variety of ninety-minute workshops and panel discussions focused on writing about place will be offered on Friday and Saturday. The sessions will include topics centered around "place" writing, including what it means to feel connected to a place; how cultures and artifacts affect or may be affected by the landscape; journaling about place; sharing thoughts about our home places and secret places; and discovering our healing places. Click on the workshops listed below to learn more.

photo of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
by Eric Trommer

Thursday, June 7

An optional pre-conference day of field-writing sessions is planned for morning and afternoon. These will be small group writing activities in Austin and San Marcos settings, led by experienced facilitators. Please register/pay for these optional sessions on the registration page. (The fee for these optional sessions—25 each—is not included in the conference registration fee.) Some of the sessions may also require a site entry fee, to be paid at the session itself. (See below for details).

You may also register for and attend the field-writing sessions without registering for and attending the conference. Register BEFORE 5/31, please—no at-the-door registration.

Bring writing materials. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, a hat, and bring plenty of water. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a camera might be useful, too.

9-11:30am Session 1A: Central Market Park and Pond, Austin, led by Lisa Shirah-Hiers
We'll walk through this urban natural area near the Central Market Café. Our writing will focus on the purpose of this place (purification, recycling, flood control, etc), relating that to our own life experience. Can this be a metaphor for our own experiences of purification, recycling, flood control—whatever these can mean?

No site entry fee. Full cost of this session: $25. For more information about the park and directions, go here.

9:30am-noon Session 1B: Crossings Haiku Walk, Austin, led by Melanie Alberts
An eye-opening activity for writers and non-writers alike, the Haiku Walk takes participants along trails where we will write about nature in the present moment. Our intent is to create seasonal word paintings in a meditative mood and discover a new way of cultivating self-awareness. We end our walk in the Sanctuary, where we will share our work.

Site entry fee: $22. The fee includes use of the pool, sauna, steam bath, trails, and wellness classes, in addition to lunch. You might want to plan to spend the whole day! Full cost of this session: $49. For more information about Crossings and directions, go here.

1-3:30pm Session 2A: Wild Basin Wilderness Center, Austin, led by Anne Beckner and Paula Stallings Yost
Participants will enjoy a 30-minute walking tour along a trail of their choice to observe native plants, wildlife, and fossils at the 220-acre environmental education center. Afterward, they will be given a few minutes to explore independently this oasis in the middle of encroaching development, which paints a picture of environmental crisis and the fragility of the land. The spiritual and physical connections made along the way will become fodder for a writing session on a porch overlooking the hills or in the comfort of the air-conditioned Great Hall.

Site entry fee: $5. Full cost of this session: $30. Don't forget your walking shoes. For more information about Wild Basin and directions, go here.

1-3:30pm Session 2B: Aquarena Springs, San Marcos, led by Susan Hanson
The experience will include a 30-minute boat tour of Spring Lake, followed by either a walk through the restored wetland or a hike through the woods on the hill above the lake. Participants will be asked to select one of these activities and to record their experiences in their journals. When the entire group reconvenes, participants will practice using their journal notes as a "hook" for a personal essay.

Boat tour fee: $7. Full cost of this session: $32. For information about Aquarena Springs and directions, go here.

1-3:30pm Session 2C: Inner Space Cavern, Austin, led by Rhonda Esakov
When people hear the word "cave", they have many different reactions: fear, thrill, awe, a sense of timelessness, a spirit of adventure. But caves are an important part of our ecosystem that also divulge many secrets of the past. In this session, we will go underground on a 75-minute tour through one of Texas' interesting caves, then write about the experience and our feelings. What can we learn about ourselves in this new and perhaps threatening environment?

Site entry fee: $19. Full cost of this session: $44. For information about Inner Space and directions, go here.

7:15-9:30pm Session 3: Gruene: A Texas Historical Town, led by Susan Wittig Albert
Settled in the 1840s by German immigrants, Gruene has been designated as a Texas Historic Town. We will look at the restored buildings (including the Gruene Mansion, the Gruene Dance Hall, and the buildings along the main street). We will write about the town's evocative architecture, its function as a tourist and recreational destination, and how/why/whether places like this are an important part of the modern landscape. Gruene is situated on the Guadalupe River, which is known for its scenic beauty as well as for its summertime tubing and rafting. So there are a variety of subjects to write about.

No site entry fee. Free to those who are registered for the conference. We will enjoy dinner at the Gruene Gristmill, 6-7:15. The writing session (in one or two groups) will take place after dinner. (If you can't make it in time for dinner, join us for the session.) For information about Gruene and directions, go here.

Friday, June 8

All activities will be held in the Alkek Library. You will find directions and parking information here.
12-5pm conference registration
1-2:10pm Session 1A. Cultivating a Life: the Stories and Places That Shape Us, led by Susan Hanson
Session 1B. "Here Be Dragons": Writing From the Edge, led by Susan Wittig Albert
2:10-3:30pm Session 2A. Cultivating a Life: the Stories and Places That Shape Us, led by Susan Hanson
Session 2B. "Here Be Dragons": Writing From the Edge, led by Susan Wittig Albert
3:45-4:30pm Conference Welcome Session, with Paula Stallings Yost
6-7pm Reception and cash bar. Opening of the exhibit: What Wildness is This
7:30-9pm "The World Depends on This": Keynote Address by Kathleen Dean Moore, followed by book sale

Saturday, June 9

9-10:30am Session 1. Concurrent writing workshops:
10:30-10:45am Break
10:45am-12:15pm Session 2. Concurrent writing workshops:
12:15-1:30pm Lunch (included in registration fee)
Introduction: Jan Seale. Readings from What Wildness is This
1:45-3pm Session 3. Concurrent writing workshops:
3-3:15pm Break
3:15-4:45pm Session 4. Concurrent writing workshops:
5-5:45pm Closing session