Dr. Gwen Hart

Sept. 20, 2017

Buena Vista University's Associate Professor of English Composition, Dr. Gwen Hart, recently attended the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vt.

Each year, the conference – which was established in part by the late American poet Robert Frost in 1926 – gathers emerging writers from across the U.S. For 10 days, conference attendees experience the challenge of working under the guidance of several notable writers and diverse faculty.

Though over 2,500 individuals applied, only 200 were accepted into the esteemed 2017 conference.

“I was thrilled to learn I had been accepted into one of the oldest and most respected writing conferences in the country,” said Hart, who submitted 10 pages of original poetry among other materials as part of the application process.

“Writers are responsible for putting events down on paper to document the world as it is and as it is evolving. That’s something that really stuck with me and that I look forward to passing along to my students.”

Dr. Gwen Hart

The conference includes a variety of workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as lectures, meetings with editors and agents, classes, and readings by faculty and guests.

Hart's workshop experience was taught under well-known poet and editor, Garrett Hongo.

“I learned a great deal from Garrett,” said Hart. “Perhaps one of the most interesting takeaways was the intricate way he interprets poems. When revising a piece of work, I learned it's important to look at it though narrative, rhetorical, figurative, and sonic lenses. Writing is not one-dimensional.”

Hart plans to apply much of what she learned from the experience to her classes at BVU and to Hot Dish Magazine, an online literary journal for Midwestern teens that is edited by BVU students under the supervision of Hart.

“One of the most riveting pieces of information came out of a lecture presented by Charles Baxter, who noted writers have the unique opportunity to chronicle the present moment and the changing times so that others can re-experience them,” said Hart. “Writers are responsible for putting events down on paper to document the world as it is and as it is evolving. That's something that really stuck with me and that I look forward to passing along to my students.”

Hart, who plans to publish the collection of poetry that she submitted to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, has published many poems and stories in literary journals and anthologies. Her book of poems, “The Empress of Kisses,” won the 2016 X.J. Kennedy Award from Texas Review Press. Hart also won second place in the 20th annual Women Who Write International Poetry and Prose Competition for her short story, “This Is a Good Idea.”

“In addition to all that I learned at the conference, I really enjoyed the true sense of camaraderie that I developed with fellow writers,” added Hart. “I made a lot of valuable connections and lifelong friends.”

English at BVU

Study the language, stories, and poetry that shapes our lives. Students sharpen their communication skills, and explore literature, critical theory, cultural studies, and creative writing to prepare for careers in a world shaped increasingly by the powers of text, imagination, and tale.