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Arkansas Writers' Conference
aka: Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Writers’ Conference (AWC) is an annual two-day conference and workshop that brings together writers and editors of all genres from across the state and beyond. The event was begun in 1944 when the head of the journalism department at Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway (Faulkner County), Helen Hall, persuaded the department to develop a conference for Arkansas writers. An agreement was reached with the leaders of the Arkansas branch of the National League of American Pen Women to co-sponsor the first conferences, which was held on July 16–22, 1944. Hall became the first executive director of the conference. Bernie Babcock, founder of Arkansas’s first branch of the National League of American Pen Women was also an important leader in the conference’s founding. The Arkansas Pioneer Branch of the National League of American Pen Women continues to sponsor the conference in the twenty-first century.

Now held on the first Friday and Saturday of June, the conference has changed locations over time; the event is usually held in a central location and has most recently partnered with University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College as a co-host. A member of the Arkansas Pen Women serves as the director of the conference, sometimes for multiple years. Past directors have included Helen Hall, Bernie Babcock, Anna Nash Yarbrough, Roberta Allen, Clovita Rice, Peggy Vining, Barbara Mulkey, Janis Kearney, and Brenda Iannacone.

The conference charges a nominal registration fee and, in return, provides presentations and panel discussions on the writing and publishing of poetry, fiction, drama for stage or screen, and creative nonfiction for writers of all levels. Audience participation is encouraged, and attendees have time to speak with presenters one-on-one. Some topics have included the importance of place in poetry and prose, the move to e-publishing, and what editors expect from writers.

Writers and publishers attending the conference also have the opportunity to reserve display space. At these tables, writers and publishers sell their books, and many publishers use the conference as an opportunity to take pitches from authors with books ready to be published.

Since 1946, the conference has held annual writing contests to correspond with the awards banquet that closes the conference. These contests require a small entrance fee; however, winners receive a cash award.

In 1989, the AWC instituted the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame, with at least one Arkansas writer being named to the Hall of Fame each year. A luncheon on the first day of the conference celebrates the Hall of Fame honoree for the year. To be eligible, an author must have a strong Arkansas connection. Additionally, an author must have published at least three books, won a significant literary award, or demonstrated exceptional ability in column writing, editing, screenwriting or playwriting.

Year

Honoree

1989

Lily Peter

Miller Williams

1990

Anna Nash Yarbrough

1991

Jack Butler

Verna Lee Hinegardner

1992

Sue Abbott Boyd

Edith Dean

1993

David Jauss

1994

Dee Brown

1995

Paul Greenberg

1996

Andrea Hollander Budy

1997

B. C. Hall

1998

Clovita Rice

1999

Donald Harington

2000

Grif Stockley

2001

Crescent Dragonwagon

2002

Ellen Gilchrist

2003

Charles Portis

2004

Dusty Richards

2005

Laura Parker Castoro

2006

Jo McDougal

2007

Vic Fleming

2008

Shirley Abbott

2009

Phillip McMath

2010

Charlaine Harris

2011

Raydine Trees Nehring

2012

Kevin Brockmeier

2013

Mara Leveritt

2014

John Brummett

2015

Carla McClafferty

2016

Janis F Kearney

2017

Paula Martin

 

For additional information:
Arkansas Writers’ Conference. http://www.arkansaswritersconference.org/ (accessed September 15, 2017).

Hancock, Orville. Dream Weavers: A History of the Arkansas Writers Conference, 1944–1998. N.p.: 1998.

Sandy Longhorn
Pulaski Technical College

Last Updated 9/15/2017

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