Kent Johnson

Kent Johnson (above) and Davis Schneiderman


Annual Creative Writing Conference to Highlight 'The Art of the Hoax'

February 20, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Illinois Wesleyan University's creative arts journal, Tributaries, will sponsor the third annual Tongue & Ink creative writing conference Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24.  This year's conference theme is "The Art of the Hoax."  The conference is an opportunity for students from any school and writers in the community to share and improve their own work, hear readings by keynote speakers Kent Johnson and Davis Schneiderman, who are known for their association with literary "hoaxes," and participate in a poetry slam with World Poetry Slam champion Buddy Wakefield, who is returning to IWU after an appearance last year.

Keynote readings, the slam and other performances, which will take place in Illinois Wesleyan's Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher, Bloomington), are free and open to the public.  Participation in the entire conference, which includes four writing and publishing workshops on Saturday, is free for IWU students and costs $20 for the general public.

The conference will kick off Friday with registration from 3 - 4 p.m. and the first session beginning at 4 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center.  "Slam Poetry and the Poetry Slam: How to Write Poems People Will Like," will be led by Robb Telfer, who received his master's of fine arts from Illinois State University in 2006 and who formerly hosted the Normal poetry slam.  Telfer is currently on a poetry tour, during which he has opened for Ani DiFranco.

At 6 p.m., one of the keynote speakers, Schneiderman, will read his work in the Hansen Student Center.  The reading will be followed at 7: 30 p.m. with an opportunity for conference participants to put their newly-learned slam skills into practice with a poetry slam hosted by Telfer and featuring Wakefield, a two-time individual World Poetry Slam champion.  Wakefield has been featured on NPR, the BBC, HBO's Def Poetry Jam and recently signed to Strange Famous Records.

On Saturday, there will be four workshop sessions in Shaw Hall between 9 a.m. and 3:45 p.m., which will each run for one hour and fifteen minutes.  During every time slot, participants can choose to attend one of two or three workshops.  The workshops range from explorations of writing techniques such as creative non-fiction and surprising poetic turns to how-to sessions on publishing and creative writing outside of academia.  Workshops will be led by IWU and Illinois State University faculty, IWU alumni and other professionals in the field of creative writing and publishing.

Additionally, Schneiderman and the other keynote speaker, Johnson, will each lead a session from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.  Schneiderman's workshop, "Pla(y)giarism and You: A 'How To' Sampler," begins with the controversial idea that all writing is theft and suggests that the way for writers to begin is to begin "thieving."  Johnson's workshop, "Translation as Experiment," will be an informal presentation of ideas about poetic translation.   An acclaimed translator, he will apply these concepts to pieces submitted by participants in advance.

At 4 p.m., Johnson will give a reading in the Hansen Student Center, which will be followed by a student reading and the release of the conference's publication at 5 p.m.  All conference participants who registered early and submitted examples of creative writing will be published in this journal.

Schneiderman, chair of the American studies program and assistant professor of English at Lake Forest College, is co-editor of Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization (2004).  His next collaborative effort, The Exquisite Corpse: Creativity, Collaboration, and the World's Most Popular Parlor Game, is forthcoming.   He is the author of Multifesto: a Henri d'Mescan Reader, which purports to reveal the life of French writer, philosopher and cultural theorist Henri d'Mescan as he develops a career as an experimental fiction writer in the U.S. - with Schneiderman as his editor.  In the course of the novel, the persona of the French author calls the authenticity of the whole text into question.

Johnson, an instructor of English and Spanish at Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill., is most famous for his apparent role in editing the works of Hiroshima survivor Araki Yasusada, including Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada (1995) and Also, with My Throat, I Shall Swallow Ten Thousand Swords: Araki Yasusada's Letters in English (2005).   Although the existence of Araki Yasusada has been called into question, Johnson maintains his claim that he is the editor of Yasusada's works.

The conference schedule and other information are available at the Tributaries Web site,  For additional information or to register, contact Tributaries co-editor and conference chair Amanda ReCupido at

Contact: Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181