In addition to Alexandra Fuller, the annual National Undergraduate Literature Conference at Weber State University features a highly acclaimed poet who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize and a former Ogden author whose first novel took an unflinching look at a seemingly perfect Mormon family.
The conference, originally founded by WSU English professor Mikel Vause and former faculty member Michael Meyer, was a way to help WSU students prepare to attend graduate school, explained Carl Porter, executive director of academic support and also a WSU English instructor.
The conference first started off as a state conference, where students could share their work with other students as well as listen to and get input from notable writers. It soon expanded nationally and was attracting students from across the country.
Porter and Vause now head the conference, which is in its 27th year. This year, it attracted about 350 student submissions from colleges and universities across the country. Porter said about 180 of those students were invited to present at the conference.
The student breakout sessions happen between presentations by the featured writers and are usually presented around a theme such British literature, American literature, Shakespeare, etc. The student work includes poetry, prose, fiction, short stories, essays and more. A complete schedule of the student presentations is available at nulc2012.com.
"I really would like the community to come up and participate and be a part of this and to see not only the professional writers, but also the young writers who are honing their skills here at the university," Porter said. "I think that they would find it enjoyable."
In a career spanning half a century, W.S. Merwin, poet, translator and environmental activist, has become one of the most widely read -- and imitated -- poets in America.
The author of more than 50 books of poetry, prose and translations, Merwin was named in 2010 by the Library of Congress as the 17th United States Poet Laureate Consultant. Included in his awards are the National Book Award, the Tanning Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and two Pulitzers, first in 1971 for his book of poems, "The Carrier of Ladders," and again in 2009 for "The Shadow of Sirius."
The son of a Presbyterian minister, for whom he began writing hymns at the age of 5, Merwin went to Europe as a young man and developed a love of languages that led to work as a literary translator. Over the years, his poetic voice has moved from the formal and medieval to a more distinctly American voice. His recent poetry is his most personal, arising from his deeply held beliefs as an anti-imperialist, pacifist and environmentalist.
Merwin lives, writes, and gardens on a former pineapple plantation on the northeast corner of the island of Maui in Hawaii. He has spent the last 30 years planting 19 acres with over 800 species of palm, creating a sustainable forest. The property has recently been turned into a conservancy, the Merwin Conservancy.
Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner
Utah native Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner's first novel, "Dancing Naked" (Signature Books, 1999), was awarded the Utah Book Award and the Utah Arts Council's Publication Prize.
"Dancing Naked" tells the story of an even-tempered, successful mathematics professor who is comfortable with the predictability of his life in a quiet Salt Lake City subdivision. However, that control is just an illusion and something his 15-year-old son never lets him forget. A sensitive boy, his son is also harboring a secret.
The father's inability to accept what he knows -- and does not know -- about his son takes a devastating toll. American novelist and screenwriter Tim Sandlin wrote that the book "stares deep into the heart of intolerance, grief, and redemption, and does not blink."
Van Wagoner's short stories have appeared in literary periodicals, magazines and anthologies. His two forthcoming novels, scheduled to debut this summer, are both literary thrillers, and influenced by the traditions and landscapes unique to their settings. The books are titled "Cautionary Tales in Ogden, Utah," and "Come the Stygian Night."
A graduate of Weber State University, Van Wagoner and his family live in Washington.
Sources: WSU National Literature Undergraduate Conference; Steven Barklay Agency; Signature Books; Amazon.com.
This is an abbreviated schedule for activities related to the National Undergraduate Literature Conference at Weber State University, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden. All events are on campus, free and open to the public, except for the banquet.
The public is invited to attend the banquet at the Timbermine Steak House for $50. Call 801-626-7157 by Monday, April 2, to check availability and make a reservation.
Visit nulc2012.com for a complete schedule.
6:30-8 p.m. -- Community reading with Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning, Dumke Legacy Hall, WSU
Noon-1 p.m. -- Reading with Alexandra Fuller, George S. Eccles Auditorium, Elizabeth Hall, WSU
2-3 p.m. -- My Favorite Poem Project event with community members and featured speakers W.S. Merwin, Alexandra Fuller and Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, George S. Eccles Auditorium, Elizabeth Hall, WSU
6:30-9 p.m. -- Opening banquet with featured speaker W.S. Merwin, Timbermine Steak House, 701 Park Blvd., Ogden. Social hour and registration precedes banquet at 5:45 p.m.
11-11:55 a.m. -- Featured speaker Alexandra Fuller, George S. Eccles Auditorium, Elizabeth Hall, WSU
3:45-4:40 p.m. -- Featured speaker Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, George S. Eccles Auditorium, Elizabeth Hall, WSU
7:30-9 p.m. -- Open mic poetry, Fireplace Lounge, WSU
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -- Q&A session with featured speakers Alexandra Fuller and Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, George S. Eccles Auditorium, Elizabeth Hall, WSU