Calling writers to CWRU’s ”Breaking Genre: A Writing Conference,” June 1

If you have a story that burns to be told, “Breaking Genre: A Writers Conference” at Case Western Reserve University can help you start writing it.

The conference is Saturday, June 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Clark Hall and Guilford House on Bellflower Road.

Cleveland-based writer Paula McClain will give the keynote address, “Closer than You Think: Thoughts on Genre Bending, Blending and Plain-old Jumping Ship.” She will talk about writing her poetry books, the memoir Like Family, and her New York Times bestseller, The Paris Wife. She will discuss what joys and pleasures can happen when a writer simply writes and stops thinking about where the writing fits.

“Writers can learn a number of good qualities from each other: curiosity, humility, enthusiasm, precision, social conscience, attention, craft,” said Sarah Gridley, assistant professor of English and the author of Loom, her recently published poetry book. “A writer’s conference can offer writers a reprieve from the isolation and inwardness of writing…and a space of mutual support, rigorous examination of shared concerns and playful exchange.”

Presentations will examine a range of writing genres:

  • Joyce Dyer’s “Memoir Doesn’t Look Like that Anymore,”
  • Sarah Gridley’s “Because You Asked About the Line between Prose and Poetry,”
  • Charles Oberndorf’s “The World as Character” and
  • Lynn Powell’s “The Muse in the Museum.”

Other local writer/presenters include:

  • Brad Ricca on “Superman at 75: Turning Self into Superhero,”
  • James Sheeler, “The Digital Time Capsule,”
  • Sarah Willis, “Crossover Novels: Adult/Young Adults” and
  • David Young, “Boundary-Crossings for Poets.”

Registration is on a first-come basis and is $95 ($75 for college students) and includes a box lunch. To register, visit the event website or call the English department at 216.368.1508.

There also are a limited number of 30-minute manuscript consultations for an additional $55. Consultants will look at 10 pages of poetry or 25 pages of double-spaced prose. To reserve a spot, email

Mary Grimm, chair of the English department, is the lead organizer. The English department, Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Foundation, Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cuyahoga County Public Library and Mac’s Back are event sponsors.