Conference Preview: Randy Brown and Rosalie Owens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARosalie OwensLearn more about two of our presenters for Tuesday, March 24, Randy Brown and Rosalie Owens.

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GPWC Op-Ed in Sioux Falls Argus-Leader


Word continues to get out about our upcoming conference. SDSU English Department Head Dr. Jason McEntee, whose academic specialization is the film and literature of war, has written a “My Voice” op-ed piece on the conference’s theme and its relevance to American society for the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader. You can read it here.

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2014 Conference Schedule Announced


You can download our printable 8 1/2 x 11 flyer as a PDF or JPG. Please share!

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Bear Eagle wins 2014 Emerging Tribal WriterAward

Announcing 2014 Emerging Tribal Writer Award Winner

Marcus Bear Eagle, Oglala Lakota and member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has been named the recipient of the annual Emerging Tribal Writer Award for the upcoming Great Plains Writers’ Conference. The conference will be held March 23-25 at South Dakota State University. The Great Plains Writers’ Conference, which was founded in 1976 at SDSU, initiated its Emerging Tribal Writer Prize in 2013.

The award is presented in cooperation with South Dakota State University’s American Indian Studies Program and American Indian Education and Cultural Center to encourage tribal writers in the early phases of their writing lives and to honor those of extraordinary merit and promise. The award is sponsored by Oakwood, SDSU’s literary and arts journal.

“This award reflects a long-standing interest that the SDSU community and the Great Plains Writers’ Conference have taken in American Indian writing and writers,” says conference coordinator and SDSU creative writing professor, Steven Wingate. “We hope through this program to encourage people in tribal communities to tell their stories and see the literary life as its own reward, and, through the years, to help more young tribal writers to share their work with the world. Conversely, we also want the rest of the world to know the deep role that tribal writers play in the cultural life of this region.”

The SDSU Department of English has a long history of literary support with the tribal writing community. The Oak Lake Tribal Writers’ Retreat, co-founded and facilitated by Dr. Charles Woodard, Distinguished Professor, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of organizing literary efforts for writers of the Oceti Sakowin (Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota).

Bear Eagle’s winning entry, a one-act play set on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is titled “Ake Kagli.” “The title means ‘to bring something home again,” explains Bear Eagle.

Dr. Richard Meyers, Coordinator of SDSU’s American Indian Studies Program, said, “Bear Eagle’s winning entry, a story that targets the Lakota Oyate as its audience, raises interesting questions. Who are a story’s intended readers? And, how does a Native writer bring reality into a proper context?”

Bear Eagle said he writes “to speak to our people who live in the world that is being portrayed. Often the portrayal of our modern day lives [focuses] on how hopeless our circumstances seem.”

In his play, Bear Eagle said he tries to not use “shock value [that] is for mass audience.” Instead, he aims to portray the renewing interest in “healing and old-time traditions” that he sees on Pine Ridge. “This hope which naturally occurs within our people is what painted this story for me.”

Bear Eagle is a full-time student at Oglala Lakota College majoring in Lakota Studies with an emphasis on the Lakota language.

Bear Eagle maintains a blog at his writing site and may be found on facebook at

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Starr Davis wins 2014 Emerging Writer Award

ImageChristine Starr Davis has been named the recipient of the Emerging Writer Award for the upcoming Great Plains Writers’ Conference. The conference will be held March 23-25 at South Dakota State University.The Great Plains Writers’ Conference, which was founded in 1976 at SDSU, initiated its Emerging Writer Prize in 2013 to support and showcase up-and-coming literary talent in the Upper Great Plains region.

“We want to help new writers from the area gain attention both within and beyond it,” said SDSU assistant professor of English Steven Wingate, who coordinates the conference and the prize program. “We want to create a forum that will help Great Plains writers work toward their first book and launch their careers.”

Following the guidelines of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, judging for the competition was done blindly; readers had no identifying marker indicating the identity of those who entered.

“Christine Starr Davis’ lines burst open on the page and spill forth insight into daily life and childhood memories,” wrote one of the competition’s judges. “She conveys exacting imagery with an exquisite control of line, a pacing of tension that leaves a reader breathless as the poem closes.”

Starr Davis is an adjunct professor at Doane College in Crete, Neb., and mentors gifted writers for the Lincoln Public Schools.

“I think prizes like this galvanize professional writing as a whole,” she said. “I mean, in a sense, all writers win when one of us is singled out for recognition. Writing as a laudable pursuit wins. I’m grateful to South Dakota State University for establishing the prize. To be the lucky one this time, and a poet too, puts me in the company of so many fine writers who have had the thrill of a YES! like this.

“It is exhilarating to have one’s creative self noticed and hoisted up for others to consider, and it’s intimidating, too,” continued Starr Davis, noting her husband has a cell-phone video of her reaction when notified of the win. “It is, of course, a huge and welcome affirmation of my progress as a writer, an answer to many earnest attempts at ‘Hello? Have I captured something that matters or rings true?’ There is so much to apprehend in a writing life, so much that begs attention and expression. I pull a thread, as I think all writers do, and hope that I have chosen a strand that could transport or alter a reader, one that merits being tugged.”

Starr Davis has had work published in more than a dozen journals, as well as in anthologies and e-zines and has several anthologies in progress. She was nominated for a 2009 Best New Poets honor and a 2010 Pushcart Prize in addition to being a finalist for the Washington Prize in 2009.

“My career? It can’t hurt!” responded Starr Davis when asked if she thought the GPWC award could boost her career. “Seriously, for better or worse, we respond enthusiastically to ‘winners’ in our culture don’t we? So, there will doubtless be folks who will now see me as a writer worth checking out. And this is the sort of thing that makes a writer’s nervous bone ache immediately after the jumping up and down part. But it is a necessary ache; the writing has to be peered at and poked.

“When you are starting out, you read the work of the ‘prize winners’ and ask yourself what is the shape of the ‘best’ poetry? You want to know this, believe you can know this,” she continued. “Maybe there will be a writer, or more than one, who finds in my work a seed, a life-giving jolt for their own work and that would be fantastic. If more happens, that would be something too.”

The book “Beautiful Joe” did just that for that Starr Davis.

“In my 20s, I returned to Swanson Library in Omaha, one of my childhood haunts, searching for a book I loved as a girl. The book was “Beautiful Joe,” written in 1893. Man, I was such a book nerd even then,” she said. “Anyway, I wanted to see the illustrations in “Beautiful Joe.” I pulled it from the shelf. No illustrations at all. Not one.

“The images I remembered had been drawn by Marshall Saunders’ words. That was defining for me,” continued Starr Davis. “Saunders had created something that in turn had created something in me. Incredible. So, the engine in my own writing is often an image, a moment, the precise smell or texture I want to offer up. I want to invite the reader to the place I’m mucking around and have their imagination complete mine. Does that sound creepy? I guess I would like to think that someone someday will pull a book of mine from the shelf and go searching for the illustrations I did not include. Or that they will hunt for a photograph or a memory they have misplaced and realize it was in fact a poem I wrote.”

For more information on Starr Davis, visit her website.

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David Abrams

David Abrams

David Abrams, author of the award-winning novel, Fobbit, will be one of our featured readers at our March 23-25 conference.

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2014 Great Plains Emerging Writer Prizewinner

We are pleased to announce that Christine Starr Davis is the winner of our 2014 Great Plains Emerging Writer Prize. Davis teaches English at Doane College and was a participant in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project:



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Emerging Tribal Writer Award deadline extended

We’ve extended our 2014 Emerging Tribal Writer Award deadline to January 22—and we’re also selecting electronic submissions for it during this window. For more information see our award page.

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GPWC 2014

The SDSU English Department is pleased to announce the theme for the 2014 Great Plains Writers’ Conference (March 23-25, 2014): “Coming Home: War, Healing, and American Culture.” The conference will feature a keynote address from poet Brian Turner (author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise) as well as readings and workshops from Ron Capps (the Founder and Director of the Veterans Writing Project), Donald Anderson (Editor of the journal War, Literature,and the Arts and professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy), Jehanne Dubrow (author of the noted “home front” poetry collection Stateside), Patrick Hicks (author of the forthcoming WWII novel The Commandant of Lubizec), and Katey Schultz (author of Flashes of War, the 2013 Gold Medal Book of the Year for literary fiction by the Military Writers Society of America).  Please click the following link to open our GWPC Coming Home pre-poster.

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Announcing GPWC 2014’s Theme

Michael Rivera photo
Coming Home: War, Healing, and American Culture

The 2014 Great Plains Writers’ Conference (March 23-25) will focus on the roles of military culture in American literary life, with particular emphasis on the relationship—on a personal and cultural level—between literature and healing. This theme reflects South Dakota’s proportionately large contribution to the armed forces, as well as South Dakota State University’s large body (over seven hundred strong) of Military Science students, reservists, and ROTC candidates.

We expect to bring in a robust lineup of nationally-recognized presenters. We hope to invite not only acclaimed writers with military service history, but also civilians who have written significantly about military-related experiences at home.  In addition to readings, our lineup will include creative writing workshops for veterans (modeled on the NEA’s “Operation Homecoming” program) and for students entering the military, programs on the Native American military experience, and outreach to veterans and their families in the community and the region. Click here for more information.

Photo by Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons
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