These curated panels will offer a forum for leading thinkers, writers, and educators to discuss writing and the arts in our culture.

10:30 – 11:20


Mary Collins


Elijah Nealy   |   Susan Strecker   |   Paula Tanapol Whitacre

 Gender Across Genres

Three award-winning writers will discuss how the subject of gender influences every aspect of a creative project. A biographer selects as a subject a woman whose story has been lost to history. A professional counselor pens a guide that challenges the very notion of living as either male or female. A novelist returns again and again to the inner life of girls versus boys. As society’s understanding of gender shifts, how does this impact the work of writers?

 Hometown Muse:
Writers Bring Their Roots Home to the Page

For each person, our own life is “home base.” It makes sense that memories of our families, neighborhoods, and local cultures underpin our creative writing. Some writers spend their entire lives exploring this familiar space, unearthing truths about the world that couldn’t be revealed in any other way. Other writers use their imaginations to supplement the experiences they’ve lived. This panel of four poets, some Connecticut natives, some not, will talk about the joys and challenges of writing about their emotional and geographical hometowns. 



Sergio Troncoso


Chandra Prasad   |   Okey Ndibe   |   Ines Rivera

 Families Living between Two Worlds

Nepantla” is an Aztec Nahuatl word meaning “in between” or “in the middle of it.” In this panel, writers will discuss which family values from their heritages have helped to shape them, their protagonists, or their narrators. What aspects of their heritages are amplified in who they are? What pieces were discarded or hanged in order to become who they wanted to be? 



Lisa Comstock


Michael Belanger   |   Katharine Weber   |   Christopher Wigren

 Eyeing the Winners’ Circle: A Talk with the 2019 Bruce Fraser Spirit of Connecticut Award Nominees

The writers selected for the first annual 2019 Bruce Fraser “Spirit of Connecticut Award” read from and discuss their nominated works with Connecticut Center for the Book Director Lisa Comstock. The nominees include Michael Belanger, Katharine Weber, and Christopher Wigren. The award celebrates the memory of longtime Connecticut Humanities director Bruce Fraser and will recognize a book that celebrates the state’s sense of place.



Lucy Ferriss


Yelizaveta Renfro   |   Lary Bloom   |   Sonya Huber

 The Lives of Others: Writing About the Real World  

Whether writing nonfiction or fiction, writers engage with the real world, addressing topics ranging from art to politics to stories of personal and cultural heritage. They seek the right balance of aesthetic truth and evidence-based veracity. How do writers tackle fact-based content with respect and empathy? How much research needs to go into writing about the real world? Just how creative can a writer be without sacrificing historical or scientific validity? How do writers engage with the real world differently across genres?



Sarah Darer Littman


Michael Belanger   |   Cindy Rodriguez   |   Melissa Thom

Keeping It Real in Young Adult Fiction

Young adult authors often face the question “Why is YA so dark?” To answer this, we must consider how YA as a genre evolved to reflect and incorporate new challenges and opportunities facing today’s adolescents. The panelists will discuss how YA authors “keep it real” while still taking into account the age and sensitivities of their audience. We’ll also look at what influence “gatekeepers” (publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and parents) have on a writer’s creative decisions.