For emerging writers, there’s always the moment when the workshop ends and you’re left wondering what the next step will be. Writers’ conferences—which combine intensive workshops, master classes, and readings—are a great way to sustain the momentum of writing and revision in a community of peers.
While many conferences involve cross-country travel and fees that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, the Boldface Conference—housed here in Houston—offers a dynamic experience at a fraction of the cost of many programs. The Boldface conference fee for the week is $125 for students and $200 for non-students; registration is open until May 9. Click here to learn more.
Boldface was started in 2009 by the editors of Glass Mountain, the undergraduate literary journal at the University of Houston, to create a conference devoted exclusively to developing writers. Any person who has not studied creative writing at the graduate level is welcome to attend. The goal of the conference is to give emerging writers an experience that is usually available only to professional writers: several days of intense focus on the craft of writing through workshops, readings, and craft talks.
A typical day at the conference runs from 9 am—5 pm. Writers gather for breakfast in the morning, then go to the first workshop session of the day. Before lunch, a series of Masterclasses led by the Boldface faculty (graduate students from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program) on a variety of writing-related subjects are offered. After the mid-day lunch break, there are readings by the Visiting Writers, who are graduates of the UH Creative Writing Program (this year, Amber Dermont, David MacLean and Franke Varca will be with us).
In mid-afternoon, conferees go to their second workshop session, and the last event of the day is typically a craft talk by one of the Visiting Writers or Boldface Faculty. There are student readings at Houston venues on two evenings of the conference, and an after-party on Friday night. On Friday, workshops do not meet but instead conferees attend a number of panels on subjects ranging from publishing work to applying to graduate programs.
Boldface is truly unique among writers’ conferences because it is the only literary conference specifically for emerging writers. The conference is a fantastic stepping stone for writers who’ve never attended a literary conference but would like to, surrounded by other emerging writers in a more intimate environment. Boldface is open to writers of all ages—recent conferees have ranged in age from 20 to 80.
Past attendees have said, “Boldface placed me on the fast track to realize what I want to be and am now, a writer” and “…Not only did I receive specific, focused feedback on my own work, but I also learned techniques to implement in future writing, critiqued peers’ pieces in a constructive environment, received advice on MFA programs and publishing from professionals, and networked with students and writers from across the country.”
Boldface placed me on the fast track to realize what I want to be and am now, a writer” and “…Not only did I receive specific, focused feedback on my own work, but I also learned techniques to implement in future writing, critiqued peers’ pieces in a constructive environment, received advice on MFA programs and publishing from professionals, and networked with students and writers from across the country.
Before the conference begins, writers at Boldface submit a short story or poems to be workshopped during their daily classes, much as they would in a university creative writing class. The overall focus of the workshops is to take a look at work that’s been created prior to the conference and learn how to improve it. Some Boldfacers come to the conference to polish work they’ve already drafted and revised, but most writers generate new stories and poems to bring to the conference. In the fall, Boldface conferees submit prose and poetry workshopped during the conference to the Robertson Prize. The prize, judged by Boldface faculty, carries cash prizes and publication for the winners.
Writers can attend in one of three genres: poetry, nonfiction, or fiction. In addition to the feedback from workshops and the new knowledge gleaned from master classes and readings, Boldface provides the chance to network with other emerging writers and build a peer community. As one Boldfacer commented, “I got to spend an entire week thinking about nothing but writing (a rare and priceless gift)…”