Local writing community rises to prominence as NAU hosts NonfictioNOW

NonfictioNOW Arizona 2015 logo

Amid the inspiring scenery of Flagstaff, hundreds of writers will converge to share the wonders that can be perceived through their imagination and craft.

The NonfictioNOW conference being hosted by Northern Arizona University will feature 60 panels, six keynote speakers and related events Oct. 28-31 at the High Country Conference Center and locations around town. More than 400 writers from around the world are expected to attend.

Even the genre-specific title implies sweeping breadth, said conference co-chair Nicole Walker.

“From freshman composition students, to marketing professionals, from rhetoricians to bloggers, much of what we write today falls under the rubric ‘nonfiction,’ ” said Walker, assistant professor of English in NAU’s creative writing MFA program. “The conference is for writers but, as tweeters and Facebook status updaters, I consider us all writers.”

Walker said the panels and keynote talks—presented by journalists, memoirists, poets, fiction writers and essayists—will discuss nonfiction “as it relates to politics and relationships, humor and science, grasshopper eating and dealing with bad guys as characters in your books.”

Keynote speakers include Brian Doyle, Roxane Gay, Tim Flannery, Michael Martone, Ander Monson and Maggie Nelson.

The conference, and its associated evening readings and presentations, also highlights the growing writing community in Flagstaff. Walker credits NAU’s creative writing program for some of the momentum, but also pointed out the resurgence of the Book Festival, and how Monday night readings in the Narrow Chimney Reading Series have bridged the literary communities of Flagstaff and NAU.

“With the NonfictioNOW conference, the Poet’s Den, Barley Rhymes, Slam Poetry night at Fire Creek and the Book Fest, I think we’ve established Flagstaff as one of the preeminent literary communities in Arizona,” Walker said.

The conference opens at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28 with a NonfictioNOW event featuring Joni Tevis and Alison Hawthorne Deming at the Liberal Arts Building on the NAU campus.