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The creative writing program in the University of South Florida's English department helps students hone their skill at poetry and prose. A conference this week will help them get their work published.
"The First Book: From Draft to Final Product" takes place Thursday afternoon on the Tampa campus and is open to anyone interested in publishing literary fiction or poetry.
Rita Ciresi is director of the creative writing program and author of two short story collections and three novels (the latest is Remind Me Again Why I Married You). She says, "It's so difficult to get published these days.
"We've had some success here with our graduate students, and we wanted to encourage them, and members of the community, to find out how to publish."
The two featured speakers are "great resources," she says. Rick Campbell, who teaches at Florida A&M, founded Anhinga Press. "He's published a lot of writers as well as writing poetry himself."
Fort Myers resident Ad Hudler, author of All This Belongs to Me and Househusband, is "a very entertaining person." He's a journalist turned novelist, Ciresi says. "A lot of people identify with that, because they didn't start out as novelists."
Several USF creative writing professors and students will participate in a panel discussion, including Ciresi. She recently judged the Flannery O'Connor short fiction contest and says that was "a real eye-opener."
"There are a lot of competent writers out there, very solid. It really taught me you have to stand out in some way, to have something really vibrant and meaningful in your writing, to get published."
IF YOU GO
The First Book: From Draft to Final Product
The free conference for writers of literary fiction and poetry takes place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Westside Conference Center Room A, the University of South Florida Tampa campus. Call (813) 974-2421.
1 p.m. - "A Book, a Job, the Tenure Track: Why It Seems Everyone Has a Book of Poetry": Rick Campbell
1:30 - "The Writing Life: From Short Story Writer to Novelist": Ad Hudler
2 - "Entering Poetry and Fiction Contests: What We Learned From Being Applicants and Judges." Panel discussion by Karen Brown, Rick Campbell, Rita Ciresi, John Fleming, George Guida and Jay Hopler