Wilkes University

2017 Pennsylvania Writers Conference

The Pennsylvania Writers Conference is designed to engage, educate and empower the literary community. If you’re a passionate writer, reader, or both, join us on the campus of Wilkes University to learn more about fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting and playwriting.

Pennsylvania Writers Conference

July 30 to Aug. 5 2017

Photo of Natasha Trethewe

Natasha Trethewey
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan
The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University, book critic on NPR's Fresh Air. Contributor, "Book World" section of The Washington Post.

Jason Carney

Jason Carney
Host open mic/poetry slam on Friday, Aug. 4.
Carney will also host a poetry slam workshop, Aug. 4-5.

Aug. 5 & 6, 2016

Scranton native and poet, novelist and biographer Jay Parini will deliver the keynote address. Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air book critic, will conduct the plenary session.

Jay PariniKeynote Speaker – Jay Parini

Jay Parini is an accomplished writer in several genres and is known for novels, poetry, and biography. His biographies include Robert Frost: A Life, which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for best nonfiction in 2000; One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner, which was a New York Times bestseller, and Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal. His 1990 novel The Last Station, about the final days of Leo Tolstoy, was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film. Benjamin’s Crossing, a New York Times Notable Book of the year in 1997, is a historical novel about Jewish critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin’s escape from Nazi occupied France. His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of magazines, including The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Poetry. As a journalist, Parini is a regular contributor to CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian and GQ. He is a 1993 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. With roots in northeast Pennsylvania -- he was born in Pittston, Pa., and grew up in Scranton -- Parini now teaches at Middlebury College, where he is the D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Maureen CorriganPlenary Session Speaker – Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, is a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. She also served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. She is the author of So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures, and a literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading! She is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post’s Book World. In addition to serving on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, she has chaired the Mystery and Suspense judges’ panel of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.


Topics to include writing for YA, screenwriting, imaginative playwriting, comedy writing, prose, publishing, and speculating in creative nonfiction.

Friday, Aug. 5

  • 6:30 p.m. - Registration begins - Henry Student Center Ballroom (second floor)
  • 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. - Open Mic and Poetry Slam

Saturday, Aug. 6

  • 8:30 a.m. - Registration continues (Dorothy Dickson Darte Center)
  • 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Plenary Session: Reviews that Mattered, presented by Maureen Corrigan
    NPR's Fresh Air book critic will provide an overview of reviews that were crucial to the fate of important books, past and present, and why. The presentation will consider how the power of review has changed and, yet, why they still matter. The session will include Q&A.
  • 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon  - Writing workshops, craft classes, panel discussions
    Choose from a variety of topics and tracks that appeal to your writing interests.

  • 12 noon to 1:45 p.m. - Lunch
    Enjoy lunch on your own in historic downtown Wilkes-Barre.  A list of local restaurants and regional fare will be included in your registration booklet.

  • 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Plenary Session: Genres of Creative Writing, presented by Wilkes faculty
    What does a low-residency M.F.A. program entail? Five Wilkes faculty members explain what takes place in their courses, including time demanded, requirements and outcomes, and the final creative manuscript. This session will cover genres in fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, poetry and playwriting. 

  • 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. - Writing workshops, craft classes, panel discussions
    Choose from a variety of topics and tracks that appeal to your writing interests.

  • 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. - Dinner hosted by Wilkes University (this is included in your registration fee)
    Dine with conference attendees and workshop presenters in the Henry Student Center Ballroom.

  • 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Keynote address by Jay Parini

    Awards will be presented to the winners of the writing competition immediately following the keynote address. 

Have a creative piece you're excited to share?  As a conference participant, you may submit a five-page sample of your work in the following genres:

  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Creative nonfiction

Prizes will be awarded during the conference for the best of each genre.

  • First place: $150
  • Second place: $100
  • Third Place: $50

Online submissions include a $5 fee.

We want to hear from you! That's why conference attendees have the option to present their work during the open mic or poetry slam. Register for a $5 fee ($10 for both events).

Questions? Contact us at:

(800) WILKES-U Ext. 4534


The Pennsylvania Writers Conference is hosted by the graduate Creative Writing program at Wilkes University. Follow your passion, write your story, and work to get published with Wilkes University’s M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Learn more.