History

Descriptions of our past Festivals are available below.

Photos from previous Festivals are available in our Photo Gallery.

Curious about our Creative Labs? See our Creative Labs Archive.

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Past Festivals

2018:  Words on Water

  • Featured Authors:  Marion Boyer, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jeff Goodell, Kirk Landers, Jean Pendizwol, Richard Purinton, Douglas Wood

  • Writers’ Workshops:

    • Bonnie Jo Campbell:  Mining the Material of Your Life: You have stories to tell, and we’ll spend a couple of energetic hours together chatting, plotting, and figuring out what our rich lives have taught us and shown us so far. Poets, essayists, fiction writers, and anyone interested in taking joy in story-telling are welcome.  Let’s get obsessed together, make friends, and enjoy the fruits of the writing life. Warning:  I won’t let you leave unless you show me you’ve got a dozen ideas.

    • Douglas Wood: A Writer's Path: A Writer’s Path is loaded like an over-stuffed Duluth pack with Douglas Wood’s tips and insights from 25 years of writing, publishing and teaching.  It comes with plenty of opportunities for questions and personal sharing, including:  the quest for ideas, overcoming “writer’s block,” discovering your confidence, the glory of “re-writing,” the art of picturesque language, the importance of “getting to the point,” and more.  The workshop follows Douglas Wood's journey from a shy child-- the worst reader in the class, who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia--to NY Times best-selling author of 37 award-winning books with over 2.5 million copies sold. Not only a literary journey, the path also winds from the Boundary Waters to the Northwest Territories, as Doug became a renowned wilderness guide and educated countless explorers on the values and meaning of wild things and wild country, from trees, wildflowers, and geology to the simple sharing of a sunrise.  The workshop is warm, educational and inspirational—and plenty of fun, too!  

    • Jean Pendziwol:  The Facts of Historical Fiction: Writing a novel that is rooted in history can become a balancing act for the author who becomes at once both historian and storyteller. While it's important to remain true to facts, there is also a need for the characters to be able move through their lives and for their story to take shape on the page. Explore the process used by award winning author, Jean E. Pendziwol in writing her bestselling debut novel The Lightkeeper's Daughters set on Lake Superior during the years leading up to and during WW2. 

    • Marion Boyer:  Navigating the Undercurrents in Poetry: Story, structure, music, and imagination are undercurrents within poetry.  Gregory Orr proposes that we are each born with a natural inclination to use these four dynamics in different proportions in our writing.  In this workshop we will examine Orr’s framework with a view of how to deepen, broaden, or vary the natural flow of our writing. Open to all poets who wish to ease their writing into deeper waters and anyone new to poetry, interested in learning ways to consider and respond to poems. Poets, please bring 6 copies of one or two poems you’re willing to read and share with the group. (This will be nonthreatening -- flotation jackets for all)

  • Creative Lab Faculty: Lane Hall, Dusan Harminc

 

2017:  Exploring Frontiers:  Real and Imagined

  • Featured Authors:  Dan Egan, Kao Kalia Yang, David Stuart MacLean, Rachel Dewoskin, Amy Hassinger, Karla Huston

  • Writers’ Workshop Faculty:  James S. McCormick, Rachel Dewoskin, David Stuart MacLean, Amy Hassinger, Kao Kalia Yang, Karla Huston

 

2016:  Mystique and Mystery of the Midwest

  • Featured Authors:  Kimberly Blaeser, Kathleen Ernst, Brian Freeman, Rebecca Makkai, Michael McCarthy, Nick Petrie, and Patricia Skalka.

  • Writers’ Workshop Faculty:  Rebecca Makkai, Lynn Kaczmarek, Kathleen Maci, Patricia Skalka, Kimberly Blaeser

 

2015:  Spirit of Place:  Literature of the Land and Sea

  • Featured Authors:  Hampton Sides, Lin Enger, John Hildebrand, Anne-Marie Oomen, Peter Geye, Kevin Miyazaki, Don Kilpela, Danielle Sosin, Alice D’Alessio

  • Writers’ Workshop Faculty:  Elizabeth Sachs, Rebekah Keaton, Anne-Marie Oomen, Alice D’Alessio

 

2014:  Rooted in the Heartland:  Themes of Family

  • Featured Authors:  Susanna Daniel, Larry Watson, Max Garland, Fritz Damler, Mari Anderson, Susan Gloss, Marnie Mamminga, Adam Schrager, Elizabeth Sachs

  • Writers’ Workshop Faculty:  Michelle Wildgen, Susanna Daniel, Susan Gloss, Max Garland

 

2013:  Writing Wisconsin:  Facts and Fiction

  • Featured Authors:  Jean Feraca, Norman Gilliland, Dale Kushner, Bruce Dethlefsen, Martha Egan, Richard Purinton, Ralph Murre, Sharon Auberle

  • Featured Presenters:  Terese Allen, Jerod Santek


“I was happy to be there, and had a wonderful time. Great venues, great food, great and engaged readers. And those starry nights! Wow.” - Jeff Goodell