David R. Collins Writers’ Conference
June 27, 28, and 29, 2019
St. Ambrose University | McCarthy Hall
518 W. Locust St., Davenport, Iowa

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

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

Thursday, June 27, 6pm | Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA

MWC is thrilled to welcome award-winner author and Quad City native Ben Miller to be the keynote speaker for our 2019 Writers’ Conference. Miller will appear at a special event at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA on Thursday, June 27.

Be on the look out for special events regarding Miller and his debut memoir, River Bend Chronicle, which details (among other things) his growing up with and around seminal figures in QC literary history.

Ben Miller is an essayist and fiction writer. After attending Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) he graduated from the New York University writing program, studying under E.L. Doctorow, John A. Williams and Luisa Valenzuela.

He is the author of the nonfiction work River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa (Lookout Books, University of North Carolina Wilmington).

His prose has been published in many journals, including Kenyon ReviewNew England ReviewYale ReviewAGNIEcotoneRaritanAntioch ReviewSouthern ReviewHarvard Review, and One Story. Six of his essays have been cited as “Notable” by Best American Essays and another, “Bix and Flannery,” was chosen to appear in the anthology by Louis Menand.

Miller’s awards include creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Schedule for Conference Keynote Event with Ben Miller
6:00-7:00 p.m. – Public reception, Community Gallery
7:15-8:30 p.m. – Keynote Address, Q and A, Book Signing

DRC Writers’ Conference Faculty & Workshops

“Shaping the Short Story” with Jennifer Colville

What shape does you short story demand? Does it curve like an Aristotelian arc? Does it call for something associative such as a many branched collage, or wandering and exploratory as an essay? Wonderful short stories have been written in the form of field notes, interviews, love letters, and recipes. Poe and Hawthorn lay contradictory ground rules. We’ll use these rules as basic armatures, and from there work to guide your story toward its rightfully traditional or yet-to-be-invented form.

Offered 8:45-10:15 a.m. on June 27, 28, 29

Jennifer Colville:

Jennifer Colville
is the founding editor of Prompt Press, a project connecting visual artists, book artists and writers. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Her collection of short stories Elegies for Uncanny Girls was published in 2017 by Indiana University Press. She has taught at the University of Iowa, the University of San Francisco, and Coe College. She is a co-organizer of the Free Generative Writing Workshops in Iowa City.


“Writing the Personal Essay” with Lyz Lenz

Essays are a wild and weird form of writing. Both expansive in form, yet tethered to the truth. Through assigned readings and writing prompts, this class will guide students through the process of creating essays that use personal experience to give readers new insight into the world. Because whatever else our writing is, it ought to begin by being personal.

Offered 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on June 27, 28, 29


Poetry Workshop with Derrick Austin

Description Coming Soon!

Offered 1:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. on June 27, 28, 29

Derrick Austin:

Derrick Austin is the author of Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, 2016) selected by Mary Syzbist for the A. Poulin Jr, Poetry Prize. His debut collection has been honored as a finalist for the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the 2017 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the 2017 Norma Faber First Book Award. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry 2015, New England Review, Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, Nimrod, Tupelo Quarterly, and Blavity. In addition to being a Cave Canem fellow, Austin is an Assistant Poetry Editor at Memorious and served as the 2016-2017 Ron Wallace Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing.



“Selling Nonfiction – A Freelancing Workshop” with Lyz Lenz

Maybe you have a brilliant idea for a non-fiction story or perhaps there is an essay, hidden like a jewel in your files, the only trouble is, you don’t know how to get published. This intensive three-hour course, is designed to take you from idea, to pitch, to publication. The class begins with idea generation, explores the art of the successful story pitch, and how to find the right home for your writing. At the end of the course, you will have sample pitches, tools and resources for finding and contacting editors, your own fully crafted pitch, and three publications to send it to. This class is designed specifically for people interested in publishing journalism, non-fiction, and essays.

Offered 1:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. on June 27, 28, 29

Lyz Lenz:

Lyz Lenz is a contributing writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. Her essays and journalism have been published in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Washington Post, The Guardian, ESPN, Marie Claire, Mashable, Salon, and more. Her book God Land will be published by Indiana University Press on August 1, 2019 and Belabored: Tales of Myth, Medicine, and Motherhood is forthcoming from Bold Type books in spring of 2020. She also has an essay in the anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay. Lenz holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.


“From Novel Idea to Immersive First Draft” with Lucy Tan

In every successful novel-writing journey, there comes a moment when the line between fiction and reality begins to blur. This course is designed to bring you closer to that moment by deepening your understanding of characters, honing your skills for writing scenes, and taking a close look at novel structure. Through generative writing assignments and in-class exercises, we will demystify the process of novel-writing by framing it as a series of decisions that are made and re-made as our stories take shape. Students should come to class with a novel idea in mind or a first draft partially written.

Offered 3:30 – 5 p.m. on June 27, 28, 29

Lucy Tan:

Lucy Tan 
is the author of What We Were Promised, which was long listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a Best Book of 2018 by The Washington Post, Refinery 29, and Amazon. Lucy received her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the 2016 August Derleth Prize and currently serves as the James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow. Her work is published or forthcoming in journals such as McSweeney’s, Asia Literary Review and Ploughshares. Learn more at


*Downloadable PDF copy of the 2019 Collins Writers’ Conference
Brochure coming soon* 

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DRC Conference Registration

Registration via PayPal is available now! Please follow this link to register.

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

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