David R. Collins Virtual Writers’ Conference
June 24, 25, and 26, 2021 (all times CST)
Workshops & Classes via Zoom | Public Events via Livestream

**Login info for the private workshops and master class will be sent to all registrants the week of the Conference**

Please RSVP for passwords to the Keynote Address and Faculty Readings to sarah.elgatian@mwcqc.org

Online registration for the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference now available!

For more information please email MWC, or to register via phone,
please call MWC at 309-732-7330.

Download a scholarship application for the DRC Writers’ Conference here. We offer scholarships to students, veterans/active duty service members, and those with financial need.

Thursday, June 24
Livestream starts at 7:00 p.m. CST
Please RSVP for password
to sarah.elgatian@mwcqc.org

MWC is thrilled to welcome award-winning writer, teacher, and mentor Allison Joseph to be the keynote speaker for our 2021 Writers’ Conference. Joseph will appear at a special livestream event on Thursday, June 24, and will lead a virtual master class on Friday, June 25.

Allison Joseph was born in London, England, to Caribbean parents and grew up in Toronto and the Bronx. She earned a BA from Kenyon College and an MFA from Indiana University. Joseph is the author of many collections of poetry, including Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (2018); My Father’s Kites (2010); Voice: Poems (2009); Worldly Pleasures (2004); Imitation of Life (2003); In Every Seam (1997); Soul Train (1997); and What Keeps Us Here (1992), which won a John C. Zacharis First Book Award. Of her work, which frequently joins autobiography to cultural narratives and histories of Afro-Caribbean communities, Joseph has said, “I write to be a recorder, observer, participant, and sometimes, even judge. I want to engage the world as I see it with my whole self—all those different aspects of it.”

Joseph’s honors and awards include fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences and from the Illinois Arts Council. She is the recipient of a George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. The Judge Williams Holmes Cook Endowed Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Joseph is editor of Crab Orchard Review, directs the MFA program, and runs the Young Writers Workshop, a summer program for high school students. She lives in Carbondale, Illinois.

(bio from The Poetry Foundation)

Schedule for Conference Events featuring Allison Joseph: 

-Thursday, June 24, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CST – Virtual Keynote Address and Q & A

-Friday, June 25, 12:00-1:00 p.m. CST – Virtual Master Class (included with registration fee; $30 without registration fee)


A Note on the Writers’ Conference and the Response to COVID-19

As we continue to do our part to help keep the community safe during the pandemic, MWC has decided to hold the Collins Writers’ Conference entirely in a virtual space again for 2021. Class meetings will be held via private Zoom meetings, and MWC staff will work with students and faculty to utilize email and Google applications for file sharing, posting assignments, group discussion, etc.

The free public events will be available via livestream on Zoom and YouTube, where the recordings will be archived. Book Pitches and 1-on-1 Critiques will be scheduled between students and instructors in advance.

We understand that this format can be more challenging for some, and we are available to help Conference participants get access to and familiarity with this format in advance of the first day. If you are interested in participating in the Conference, but are new to video conferencing and/or if internet access is an issue, please contact us and let us know—we will do whatever we can to help make participation as easy and as comfortable as possible.

We will continue to offer scholarships to students, veterans/active duty service members, and those with financial need.


2021 David R. Collins Virtual Writers’ Conference
Course Descriptions, Faculty Bios, and Schedule 

“Writing The Personal Essay” with Lyz Lenz

Come write an Essay! This class will take you through inspiration, drafting, and revision on an essay. We will talk craft, approach, research (yes, research), and revision. Bring your best ideas and let’s get to work.

Offered 8:45-10:15 a.m. CST on June 24, 25, 26

Lyz Lenz:

Lyz Lenz’s writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book God Land was published in 2019, through Indiana University Press. Her second book Belabored, was published in 2020 by Bold Type Books. Lyz’s essay “All the Angry Women” was also included in the anthology Not that Bad edited by Roxane Gay. Lyz received her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She lives in Iowa with her two kids.



“Framing the Novel” with Tariq Shah

From traditional Flauberian structures to to the more experimental works of David Markson, Edouard Levé, etc, this hybrid workshop will explore the elements of the novel through a survey of exemplary works while sampling writing exercises intended to generate new material and lend greater depth to the work already produced.

Offered 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST on June 24, 25, 26

Tariq Shah: 

Tariq Shah is the author of Whiteout Conditions (Two Dollar Radio, 2020). His chapbook, ‘heart assist device,’ was a finalist for the 2019 no, dear/small anchor press chapbook series. A Best of the Net award nominee, his work appears in or is forthcoming from DIAGRAM, jubilat, Heavy Feather Review, Shirley Magazine, No, Dear Magazine, Anomaly, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, where he currently teaches.




Poetry Master Class with Keynote Speaker Allison Joseph

Featuring a discussion about poetry, with Q & A, led by award-winning poet, editor, and professor Allison Joseph. Included with registration fee; if you are not registered for the Conference and would like to attend, the cost is $30.

Offered 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. CST on June 25



“Unabashed Gratitude in Difficult Times” – Poetry Workshop with Gale Marie Thompson

It may feel impossible to write an ode in this day and age, to unabashedly praise or find moments of gratitude in a world of tumult, suffering, and disillusionment. And yet, as Kaveh Akbar has said, “an orientation towards wonder, as a poet, is absolutely necessary.” But what does it mean to write poems of gratitude and wonder, and yet acknowledge suffering in a complicated world? In this workshop, we will be reading and writing poems that attempt to access that orientation toward gratitude and praise, to find the sublime in the ordinary. We’ll look to poems from Ross Gay, Adam Zagajewski, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and others, to generate our own works of gratitude in difficult times. What makes a successful “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”? What does it mean to “Try to Praise the Mutilated World”? Come join us as we attempt to write our own beautiful, complicated, grief-filled poems of praise and celebration.

Offered 1:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. CST on June 24, 25, 26

Gale Marie Thompson: 

Gale Marie Thompson is the author of Helen or My Hunger (YesYes Books, 2020), Soldier On (Tupelo Press, 2015), and two chapbooks. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Online, The Adroit Journal, BOAAT, and Crazyhorse, among others. She has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and has worked on the editorial teams of jubilatCrazyhorseFairy Tale ReviewGeorgia Review, and Slope Editions. She is the founding editor of Jellyfish Poetry and co-host of the arts advice podcast Now That We’re Friends. Gale lives in the mountains of North Georgia, where she directs the Creative Writing program at Young Harris College.


Short Fiction Workshop with Joe Meno  

Full description TBA

Offered 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST on June 24, 25, 26

Joe Meno: 

Joe Meno is a writer and cultural journalist who lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Great Lakes Book Award, and a finalist for the Story Prize, he is the author of seven novels, Marvel and a Wonder, Office Girl, The Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective Fails, Hairstyles of the Damned, How the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender as Hellfire. His short story collections are Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir and Demons in the Spring. His short fiction has been published in the likes of McSweeney’s, One Story, Swink, LIT, TriQuarterly, Other Voices, Gulf Coast, and broadcast on NPR. He is also the creator of Star Witness, a seven part serial on Electric Literature. He was a contributing editor to Punk Planet, the seminal underground arts and politics magazine. His non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times and Chicago Magazine.

(photo: Newcity)


DRC Conference Keynote Address, featuring Allison Joseph

Livestream on Thurs., June 24, 7:00 p.m. CST  – Keynote Address and Q & A
*Free & Open to the Public*

*Event livestream on Zoom & YouTube starting at 7:00 p.m. CST*

-Please RSVP for login info to sarah.elgatian@mwcqc.org

-MWC Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MidwestWritingCenter/


Virtual Conference Faculty Reading, Livestream via Zoom and YouTube on Friday June 25, 7:00 p.m. CST

Listen to conference faculty reading their work and support our friends and partners Rozz-Tox, where we usually host this and many other events every year. Free and open to the public.


Book Pitches

Ten minutes to pitch your book to Jodie Toohey from Legacy Book Press and/or to representatives from MWC Press. Pitch times will be scheduled with authors in advance of the Conference. Cost is $15, and pre-registration is required.

About the Presses:

Legacy Book Press is a full traditional publishing company based in Davenport, Iowa, seeking to publish book-length personal works in the form of non-fiction, autobiographical fiction, and/or poetry. Visit legacybookpress.com for more information, submission guidelines, and royalty split/author copy options. 

Please be prepared to tell us about your project during your pitch, and bring two copies each of the entire manuscript, a one page or shorter synopsis, and a statement of how you plan to market your book. If we choose your book for publication and you publish with us (you incur no obligation by pitching to us or having us choose your work for publication), we will credit the cost of the pitch session to your publishing package. For more information about pitching to Legacy Book Press, please contact owner Jodie Toohey or visit the Legacy Book Press website. 

MWC Press: The panel requests each author bring a one-page summary of their pitch—brief synopsis of the manuscript, brief author bio/other publications, brief outline of marketing ideas/strategy, etc. The panel will take these summaries and their input from the pitch sessions back to the MWC Board of Directors and related committees to make a final decision. Authors whose work advances through this process may be asked to provide more detailed information.


Please click here to register online for the 2021 David R. Collins Writers’ Conference!

Please call Ryan Collins at (309) 732-7330 to register over the phone today, or email him at mwc@midwestwritingcenter.org for more information.

*Downloadable PDF copy of the 2021 Collins Writers’ Conference
Brochure coming soon* 

fell poetry wrkshp_CWC14


Conference Sponsors:

Modern Woodman of America,
Founding Sponsor of the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference

Regional Development Authority

The Figge Art Museum

St. Ambrose University English Department


Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts


Illinois Humanities