This was my third time attending the annual James River Writers Conference, and this year was just as incredible an experience as before.
I did take pictures during the Library of Virginia’s Literary Awards, because when I opened up the pamphlet, I saw a couple of familiar names!
First was Dr. Claudia Emerson. Dr. Emerson has a distinguished list of honors and awards, not the least of which is a Pulitzer. She was the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2008 to 2010 and she taught as a professor at multiple colleges, including my alma mater, the University of Mary Washington. Though Dr. Emerson died of cancer in 2014, she is still being recognized for her outstanding poetry. Her husband, Kent, accepted the award on her behalf.
Another familiar name was that of Jon Pineda, who also teaches at Mary Wash. I never had him as a professor, but I heard wonderful things about his classes. I’ve heard him read his poetry a few times at the weekly Thursday Poems hosted by the English department, so it was very cool to see him accept this award and later read some of his collection at the poetry panel.
The Literary Lifetime Achievement Award went to Nikki Giovanni, who is currently teaching at Virginia Tech as a University Distinguished Professor. Her interview was amazing and definitely memorable. She said what was on her mind, whether it was humorous or heartbreaking.
On Sunday, the conference’s events wrapped up with “The Agent Dating Game,” which was hilarious and exciting and altogether very impressive. Check out the set:
Even though I was exhausted both physically and monetarily (that bookstore setup gets me every year), I was so happy to be back among readers and writers alike. I’m not really a writer myself, but this conference gets me amped up to start writing every time I go!
…and what about my book haul, you ask?
First off, I bought these amazing sticker/bookmark packs. They had a whole bunch to choose from, including Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde, but I had to stick with my main squad, V. Woolf and Jane.
I also got copies of four books, only three of which I had to buy! Of course I got Dr. Emerson’s and Professor Pineda’s books (and he even signed Little Anodynes). As part of her panel on self-promotion, Gini Koch brought in free copies of her book Touched by an Alien for every person in the room, Oprah Winfrey-style. I also bought a copy of A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, who was the keynote speaker on the opening day. Her talk was incredible and inspiring. It was also great Twitter material…
She was kind enough to sign the book for me, and I even got to sit by her during Saturday’s luncheon. Score!
If you’re a reader, a writer, or someone who wants to be inspired to become a writer, I highly suggest attending the JRW Conference. The people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve made, and the knowledge I’ve gained have been worth every penny.