A distinctive feature of the Young Writers’ Conference, made possible by our partnership with the famous Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Sewanee School of Letters, is the impressive lineup of major authors who come to the conference, give a reading, answer students' questions, and often visit morning workshops. Every summer, Sewanee Young Writers engage in exciting conversations with Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners, and other literary celebrities. And to make sure they have something to talk about, we ask our participants to read a book by each of our visitors before arriving in Sewanee.

When our visitors arrive in the second week, they are greeted by a well-informed audience, prepared to ask good questions and make the most of the opportunity.

Pictured at the right: Lucy Alibar, a Screenwriter and Playwright as well as a former participant at the SYWC, best known for the Oscar-nominated screenplay of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.

To learn more about this year's special guests click on the names below.

Tiana Clark, Poetry

SYWC-GuestAuthors-TianaClarkTianaClark19_300xTiana Clark is the author of the I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Clark is the winner of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, as well as the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. She was the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Best New Poets 2015, Oxford American, and elsewhere. Clark graduated from Vanderbilt University’s M.F.A. program where she served as the poetry editor of the Nashville Review‌. Clark has received scholarships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Frost Place Poetry Seminar. She was awarded funding from the Nashville Metropolitan Arts Commission for her community project, Writing as Resistance, which provides creative writing workshops for trans youth. Additionally, Clark has taught various creative writing workshops for the Porch Writer’s Collective including SLANT (Student Literary Artists of Nashville, Tennessee—a creative writing program for teens). She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Find her online at tianaclark.com.‌‌

David Haskell, Creative Nonfiction

SYWC-GuestAuthors-DavidHaskellDavid Haskell’s work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of the natural world. His first book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature (Viking Penguin, 2012), was winner of the National Academies’ Best Book Award for 2013 and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. The book was the winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award, the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, and was runner-up for the 2013 PEN E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. A profile in The New York Times said that Haskell “thinks like a biologist, writes like a poet, and gives the natural world the kind of open-minded attention one expects from a Zen monk rather than a hypothesis-driven scientist." His latest book, The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors examines the many ways that trees and humans are connected. According to Pulitzer winner Deborah Blum, “David Haskell may be the finest literary nature writer working today. The Songs of Tress – compelling, lyrical, wise – is a case in point.” Professor of Biology at Sewanee, Haskell holds degrees from the University of Oxford and from Cornell University. In 2014, the Guggenheim Foundation named him a Fellow in Creative Arts and Science Writing. His scientific research on animal ecology, evolution, and conservation has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Wildlife Fund, among others. Haskell’s classes have received national attention for the innovative ways they combine science, contemplation, and action in the community. In 2009, the Carnegie and CASE Foundations named him Professor of the Year for Tennessee. The Oxford American featured him in 2011 as one of the most creative teachers in the south, and his teaching has been profiled in USA TodayThe Tennessean, and other newspapers. He also explores natural history, science, and literature on his Ramble blog and on twitter @DGHaskell. To learn more about David Haskell visit: https://dghaskell.com.

Arlene Hutton, Playwriting

SYWC-GuestAuthors-ArleneHuttonArlene Hutton has been a guest author at SYWC nine times in the past dozen years. She is best known for Letters to SalaI Dream Before I Take the Stand and The Nibroc Trilogy, which includes Last Train to Nibroc (Drama League nomination for Best Play), See Rock City (Spirit of America Award, Washington Post list of best theatre 2018), and Gulf View Drive (Ovation Award for Best Production 2018). Her play for teens, Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry, was performed at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe as part of the American High School Theatre Festival.

Published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French and Playscripts, Hutton’s scripts appear in best play anthologies and have been produced in London, New York, Los Angeles, and across the U.S. and have been translated into Chinese, Catalon, Portuguese, Romanian and Dutch. Hutton is a winner of the Macy’s New Play Prize, three-time winner of the Samuel French Short Play Festival and an eight-time finalist for the Heideman Ten-Minute Play award.  She has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Circle Theatre Company and an alumna of New Dramatists, she has held residencies at the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference, MacDowell Colony, New Harmony Project and Yaddo, and has taught playwriting and improvisational theatre at schools and conferences around the country. Hutton has been a featured artist nine times at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska, twice on the faculty of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and was the keynote speaker at the first Kentucky Playwrights’ Conference. Honored as the Tennessee Williams Playwriting Fellow at the University of the South, Hutton taught playwriting at Sewanee in 2005-2006 and 2007-2008.  More recently, Hutton taught at the College of Charleston from 2010-2014, where her students won regional and national awards at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Based in New York City, she currently teaches at The Barrow Group and is working on a commissions for the Sloan Foundation, the Big Bridge Theatre Consortium and the Educational Theatre Association / International Thespian Society.

Wyatt Prunty, Poetry

SYWC-GuestAuthors-WyattPruntySince 1980 Wyatt Prunty has published eight books of poetry, including The Run of the HouseSince the Noon Mail StoppedA Lover’s Guide to Trapping, and Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems, which, in the words of X. J. Kennedy, “affords a clear view of Prunty’s high stature in contemporary American poetry.” His most recent collection, Couldn't Prove, Had to Promise, was published by The Johns Hopkins University Press in 2015. Prunty is also the author of the acclaimed critical book “Fallen From the Symboled World”: Precedents for the New Formalism; a second volume of criticism, Rationed Compassion: Poetry since World War II, is forthcoming. His poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and the YaleSouthernSewanee, and Kenyon Reviews, among other places. He has been honored as the recipient of a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Johns Hopkins Fellowship, and a Brown Foundation Fellowship. Prunty has taught at the Johns Hopkins University (where he held the Elliot Coleman Chair), Washington and Lee University, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; currently he serves as Carleton Professor of English at the University of the South, where he also directs the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. 

Kevin Wilson, Fiction

SYWC-GuestAuthors-KevinWilsonWilson's acclaimed 2009 book Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, praised by The New York Times Book Review for its "fabulous twists and somersaults of the imagination," won the Shirley Jackson Award and the National Library Association's prestigious Alex Award (which recognizes books written for adults that also have a special appeal to teens). His new collection, Baby You're Gonna Be Mine, was published in 2018. Wilson's best-selling novel, The Family Fang, has been praised by People as "a wacky wonderful debut" and by the Wall Street Journal for covering "complex psychological ground." "Wilson's inventive genius never stops for a rest break," adds National Public Radio. A movie based on the novel—starring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, and Jason Bateman—premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. His second novel, Perfect Little World, appeared in early 2017, earning strong reviews. "Wilson's 'perfect little world' of a novel pretty much lives up to its title," offered Maureen Corrigan of NPR.  "It's a novel you keep reading for old-fashioned reasons," added John Irving in the New York Times, "because it’s a good story, and you need to know what happens. But you also keep reading because you want to know what a good family is. Everyone wants to know that."  A new novel, Nothing to See Here, is forthcoming in 2019. Once a dorm counselor for the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, Wilson received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and his M.F.A. from the University of Florida. He lives in Sewanee, where he serves as Associate Professor of English and coordinator of the creative writing program. For more about Kevin Wilson, visit his website: www.wilsonkevin.com.

Guest Author Quote