Winter Wheat plants seeds of literary harvest

Colette Arrand left and Theresa Williams will read from their work at Winter Wheat (BGSU photos)


BG Independent News

The seeds for Winter Wheat were planted at Bowling Green State University back in 2001, and the writers have been harvesting the benefits annually ever since.

Abigail Cloud, who is coordinating this festival, said: “The basic metaphor is sewing the seed for later harvest.”

Winter Wheat begins Thursday, Nov. 2, and runs through Saturday night when the participants will gather at Grumpy Dave’s for an open mic. The weekend will include workshops, panels, talks, and readings. Between 200 to 300 participants are expected.

Winter Wheat is free and registration is open throughout the weekend. For more information and schedule visit

Cloud said she’d just arrived at BGSU in 2001 when Karen Craigo set about organizing the first gathering.  “She had been wanting to do a community event for a while,” Cloud said.

The event welcomes back graduates of the Creative Writing Program as well as students and faculty from schools around the region and as far away as California and Texas, and writers from the local community.

“It’s a good town-gown outreach,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have a banner event for creative writing.”

This year Winter Wheat is convening in conjunction with the meeting of the International Symposium for Poetic Inquiry. This is the first time the symposium is being held in the United States.

Faculty colleague Sandra Faulkner, the host, suggested the arrangement and Cloud readily agreed. Winter Wheat adds value for those traveling from abroad.

Last year a meeting of student editors convened at the same time.

Winter Wheat differs from other writing conferences by including time for writing.

“There was a recognition when we started that a lot of times when we leave comforting environment of workshops at school, we stop making time for our work. So we’re offering that time to produce something new. … It gives us a chance to dig back in and do some new writing on specific topics or explore where we haven’t had a chance to explore before.”

The gathering always includes readings by faculty and graduates. Theresa Williams is both. She will present her work in graphic novels on Thursday night. On Friday evening, alumnae Colette Arrand will read from her novel “Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon.” Poet and, playwright and scholar Mary Weems will present Saturday afternoon.

Kimberly Dark will speak Friday as part of the ISPI.

And on Friday afternoon the first director of BGSU’s MFA program Howard McCord will join Joel Lipman and Jane Piirto,  for So Speak the Elders: Historical Roots of Poetry in Northwest Ohio in the 1970s and 1980s: A Poetic Inquiry.

There are workshops covered “the widest range possible,” Cloud said. They include writing dialogue, including for funeral scenes, yoga for writers, writing comics, and writing inspired by art. Cloud said the sessions are mostly new from year to year.

Some are perennials such as Lawrence Coates; Saturday session on Brainstorming the Novel. Cloud said she moved that to a larger room to accommodate demand.

The conference has definite advantages for BGSU’s Creative Writing program. “I have received compliments from other institutions that have applauded the way we keep in touch with alums through Winter Wheat,” Cloud said.

And it fosters connections with other regional schools. That’s good for students in the BFA program who are considering to move on to an MFA program. “They’re networking potential is increased.”