The Second Annual EGSA Conference, a Reflection

By MAWP student Steve Bogdaniec

I was one of the organizers of the 2011 EGSA Conference, held on April 15, 2011, and I’ve been asked to say a few words about it.

This was the second annual conference, and it was bigger than last year. We had thirty-seven total participants, grads and undergrads, reading pieces in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literary criticism and theory. Many presented twice, as I did (poetry and nonfiction). The EGSA was honored to cap the event off with keynote speaker Hannah Pittard, a DePaul professor in the Department of English and author of The Fates Will Find Their Way. She read from her book and other sources that have inspired her, including William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech from 1950.

My highlight was the Poetry I panel. In the order of appearance, it was me, Jennifer Finstrom, Trudie Gauerke and Angel Woods. Everyone’s poetry was amazing, even mine—at times vivid, evocative, personal, compelling, passionate. But what made it special for me was the moderator for the panel, Warren Scheideman. He was wonderful at engaging our work, massaging questions from the audience, and overall lending our panel a warm, communal feeling. I had never seen anything quite like it at any conference. Thanks again, Warren!

(By the way, Jennifer Finstrom wrote about this panel here. Please take a look!)

The conference was well-attended by faculty, and for students, any experience gained in the world of academic conferences helps you moving forward. EGSA is also going to publish a proceedings of the event online, and this will highlight some of the outstanding pieces that were presented this year.

For me, planning and attending the conference was a lot of fun. It was difficult at times, but it ended up being a truly rewarding experience, helping to create something positive and interesting. I was honored to get to do it again this year.

This conference, and the EGSA in general, always meant a lot more to me than a line or two on a CV. For me, EGSA has always been about the people I met and grew to love including the following: Kim Anderson, Brianna Tonner, Chris Smith, Heath Black, Jesse Darnay, Angel Woods. Molly Tranberg emailing and asking, in the nicest possible way, where the hell something was that should have been to her already. (She did an awesome job with the thing you’re reading right now, by the way, Ex Libris, and if you haven’t yet, please take a moment to thank her before she graduates in June. She deserves it!) Meetings with Drs. Sirles and Shanahan in the stuffy little English conference room in McGaw, meetings with Kim and Bri and Chris in the SAC Pit, or not really meetings at all, just endless email strings about dates or numbers or what to do next, and when.

I love you all, and I will miss the time I spent with you in EGSA and/or this program. I mean it. If I could, I would do it all over again.

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