WriteAngles: keynote speaker awards and inspiration

WriteAngles Conference 2024

WriteAngles: keynote speaker, awards, and inspiration
By Ellen Meeropol

Registration is now open for the April 6, 2024 WriteAngles Conference. As the ticket sales increase day by day, my thoughts move away from the necessary details of conference development that have taken up most of my brain, returning to the big picture. 

What do we hope to accomplish with this gathering of western Massachusetts writers? What kind of inspiration might we expect? Why is it so important to writers to gather and share our craft, our words, our hopes? Why am I so excited about this conference?

A big part of my excitement is our keynote speaker, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. I’ve read her brilliant 790-page novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, twice and will, I am certain, return to it for a third reading at some point. Ms. Jeffers writes the kind of fiction that moves me most deeply: the plot is grounded in history and the characters soar, unashamedly feminist, authentic, and compelling. If you are not familiar with Honorée Jeffers’ work, check out her website here.

On a personal note, selecting her as the recipient of the Social Justice Writing Award that honors my late father-in-law Abel Meeropol feels perfect. Abel was a poet, songwriter, and playwright who wrote about racial and economic justice. He would have loved her work and I look forward with excitement to the ideas and inspiration she will share with us as she accepts this award.

But a conference is more than one presenter. The program content was developed based on suggestions offered by dozens of writers in the four western Massachusetts counties, via pop-up conversations, virtual meetings, and an online survey. 

These writers told us they wanted something different, not just the usual craft and publishing programming, although those are important too. They wanted conversation about being a writer in today’s broken world, about alternate ways of hearing diverse voices, about how we as writers can give back to our communities.

The twenty volunteer conference planners took these suggestions and magically transformed them into panels, roundtable discussions, and workshops that range from speculative fiction to writing in community, from the life of a book to writing beyond the book, from reading our work out loud and using storytelling to enliven nonfiction to generating poems from different cultural experiences. 

The committee has gathered a wonderful faculty of presenters—diverse in age, race, and background—and raised funds to both pay these presenters and offer significant scholarship assistance to those who need it to attend. 

In addition to the sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with a literary agent, eat lunch with other writers who share your interests, win a basket of books or literary services, and read your words at the open mic that will follow the conference programming. 

That’s why I’m so excited about WriteAngles, and why I hope you’ll register now and join us on April 6 at the Northampton Center for the Arts.