The annual Mesa Verde Writers Conference will take place July 13-16 in Mancos.
Award-winning authors, including two from Southwest Colorado, will host a variety of fiction and poetry workshops and provide instruction. Manuscript critique sessions are also offered.
Instructors are authors Lisa C. Taylor and Mark Stevens, both of Mancos, along with Nick Arvin of Denver and Alan McMonagle of Ireland.
Bios of the authors and workshop descriptions are posted on the conference website.
Taylor is the author of five poetry collections, including recently published “Interrogation of Mourning,” and two short story collections. She is published in Ireland and the U.S. and has won the Hugo House New Works Fiction Award.
Stevens is the author of “The Fireballer” and the “Allison Coil Mystery Series.” “Antler Dust” was a Denver Post bestseller in 2007 and 2009. His story “Trapline” won the Colorado Book Award in 2015. Stevens is a former television news producer and hosts regular podcasts for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Arvin is the author of four books of fiction: “Mad Boy,” “The Reconstructionist” and “Articles of War,” and a collection of stories “In the Electric Eden.” His work has appeared in the New Yorker and Wall Street Journal. Arvin’s work has been awarded by the American Library Association and the National Endowment of the Arts.
McMonagle’s debut novel “Ithaca” was published in 2017 as part of a two-book deal with Picador. His second novel, “Laura Cassidy’s Walk of Fame,” was published in 2020. He published two collections of short stories, “Psychotic Episodes” in 2013, and “Liar Liar” in 2008, which were nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award. He also writes plays that have been produced as part of RTE’s Drama on One season.
The new writing conference will take place at the Harmony Barn venue 4 miles east of Mancos and is open to published and aspiring writers. Meals are included, and are catered by local businesses Zuma Natural Foods of Mancos and Zoe the Tail Fine Foods of Dolores.
Taylor said she and Stevens came up with the idea for the conference after meeting at a wedding where he was playing bass in the band Flashback, based in Montezuma County.
“There are not a lot of writing workshops here, so we thought, ‘Lets start one’,” she said in an interview.
They were inspired to share their thrill for writing and thought the natural beauty of Southwest Colorado in summer was the perfect backdrop.
“It is an opportunity for mentoring by award-winning writers, and a chance to connect with other writers,” Taylor said. “You may have written a lot, or not at all. You may be retired, or a teacher who always wanted to try but did not have the time except for in summer. Students of all ages will learn how to tell a story from experienced authors who are warm, funny and welcoming.”
After the workshops, the conference includes bonfires, open mic readings and live music. It is described as a “generative conference” where the work you create may become a finished story, personal essay, novel or poem.
“Listen to your inner voice, take risks, and break from the routine,” the website states.
Taylor hopes the conference will become an annual event in order to carry on the tradition of Southwest Colorado as a haven for writers and artists.
“I think there are a lot of secret writers out there who would love to dedicate a summer weekend to learning more about writing craft and generating new work,” Taylor said.
For more information costs and sign up, visit mesaverdewritersconference.org
A locals discount is offered, and space is limited to 25 participants.