If I had to pick one quote that has sustained me throughout my writing career of three decades through success and rejection it would be the following from the author Jean Rhys: All of writing is a huge lake. Thereare great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are trickles like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters.
But how does one feed the lake? How does one keep writing transforming experience and imagination into fiction? How do you renew that trickle or, if you're so lucky, river, in order to keep the writing flowing, whether you're a novice or an advanced writer? It's by beginning. And beginning again. Over and over. This talk will address the courage and craft that goes into dedicating oneself to that worthy goal.
Steven Schwartz grew up outside Chester, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Colorado for the past thirty years. He's the author of three story collections, To Leningrad in Winter, Lives of the Fathers, and Little Raw Souls, and two novels, Therapy and A Good Doctor's Son. His writing has twice received the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction, the Nelson Algren Award, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two O. Henry Prize Story Awards, and the Cleanth Brooks Prize in Nonfiction from The Southern Review. He taught creative writing for 30 years at Colorado State University before retiring and currently teaches in the low-residency Warren Wilson MFA Program. He is the fiction editor of Colorado Review.
Patricia Hampl's most recent book is The Florist's Daughter, winner of numerous best and year end awards, including the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, published in 2006 and now in paperback, was also one of the Times Notable Books; a portion was chosen for The Best Spiritual Writing 2005.
Patricia Hampl first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her memoir about her Czech heritage, awarded a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. This book and subsequent works have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 25 years.
She is the author as well of two collections of poetry, Woman before an Aquarium, and Resort and Other Poems. And she has published Spillville, a meditation on Antonin Dvorak's 1893 summer in Iowa, with engravings by Steven Sorman. Virgin Time, about her Catholic upbringing and an inquiry into contemplative life, is available in a recent paperback.
I Could Tell You Stories, her collection of essays on memory and imagination, was a finalist in 2000 for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction. Four of her books have been named "Notable Books" of the year by The New York Times Book Review. A Romantic Education appeared in a new edition with a post-Cold War Afterword in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in 1999. In 2001, Carnegie Mellon Press chose Resort and Other Poems for its Contemporary Classics series.
In 2004 Borealis Books (of the Minnesota Historical Society Press) published The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald edited and with an introduction by Patricia Hampl. And in fall 2008 Tell Me True: Memoir, History and Writing a Life came out from the same imprint, co-edited by Ms. Hampl and Elaine Tyler May with essays by 14 memoirists including the editors.
Ms. Hampl's fiction, poems, reviews, essays and travel pieces have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays.
She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Bush Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (twice, in poetry and prose), Ingram Merrill Foundation, and Djerassi Foundation. In 1990 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.
Ms. Hampl is Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where she teaches fall semesters in the MFA program of the English Department. She is also a member of the permanent faculty of the Prague Summer Program. She regularly gives readings, lectures and workshops across the country and internationally.