CANCELLED: New Leaves Writers' Conference, April 13-17

CANCELLED: New Leaves Writers' Conference, April 13-17

UPDATE: In light of increasing concerns regarding the imminent spread of COVID-19 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the Creative Writing Program is canceling this year's New Leaves Conference in order to limit exposure and minimize risk.


This year’s New Leaves Writers' Conference, hosted by Mason’s Creative Writing Program, takes place April 13-17—welcoming visiting writers in three genres, hosting a workshop and panel for aspiring and emerging writers, and celebrating many members of the Mason writing community, including current students, a distinguished alum, and a retiring founder of the MFA program. Through our partnership with Fall for the Book, New Leaves also welcomes Rainbow Rowell as the finale of the week’s activities.

The full schedule is below, with all events at George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus, except the event with Rainbow Rowell on Friday evening.



7:30 p.m. — A joint reading by visiting writers Mira Jacob (nonfiction) and Chinelo Okparanta (fiction). Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and named a New York Times Notable Book as well as a best book of the year by Time, Esquire, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library JournalOkparanta is the author of the novel Under the Udala Trees and the short story collection, Happiness, Like Water, which was cited as an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review and was named on the list of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013. Fenwick Library Reading Room.



1:30 p.m. — A presentation by MFA students Lisa DesRochers-Short, Melissa Wade, and Danielle Paige Williams—who each received travel grants from the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center. DesRochers-Short traveled to Canada as part of her project translating the work of 20th French-Canadian poet Alfred DesRochers, a relative of hers. Wade travelled to Europe to research her novel, which includes a character seeking to end his life with the support of a death-with-dignity organization in Switzerland. And Williams travelled to her home in the Mariana Islands to work on poetry that draws on the area’s culture. Fenwick Library Reading Room.

7:30 p.m. — A reading by Mason professor and novelist Susan Richards Shreve and Mason MFA alum and novelist Matthew Norman. Shreve, one of the founders of Mason’s MFA program, is retiring from Mason this year; her latest novel is More News Tomorrow. Norman, one of Shreve’s students during his time at Mason, is the author of three novels, most recently Last Couple Standing. Fenwick Library Reading Room.



7:30 p.m. — A reading by visiting writer Martha Ronk (poetry). Ronk is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Silences. Earlier collections include Transfer of Qualities, long-listed for the National Book Award; Vertigo, a National Poetry Series selection; and In a landscape of having to repeat, winner of the PEN USA best poetry book award. Fenwick Library Reading Room.



1:30-4:30 p.m.— Workshop: Pitches and Queries, with Mason MFA alum Samuel Ashworth. This three-hour workshop will teach participants: 1) How to craft a successful pitch or query; 2) The etiquette of dealing with agents and editors; 3) How to talk about and ask for money; 4) How a pitch becomes a published piece; and 5) How to vastly expand your range by folding basic reporting skills into your repertoire. Ashworth is a regular contributor to the Washington Post Magazine and, in addition to fiction, criticism, and essays in other publications. Fenwick Library, Room 4010. Sign-up is encouraged; you can register here.

7:30 p.m. — Loud Fire Reading. The graduate student reading series for George Mason's creative writing MFA program hosts current students sharing their fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Fenwick Library Reading Room.



1-3 p.m. — Panel Discussion: Practicing Literary Citizenship, and Maybe Land a Gig Doing It. Fenwick Library Reading Room. Panelists include:

  • Derrick Weston Brown, poet, adjunct professor at Prince George's Community College, and founder of the critically acclaimed poetry series The Nine on the Ninth.
  • Nathan Leslie, fiction writer, professor at Northern Virginia Community College, former series editor for the Best of Web anthology, and founder and host of the monthly Reston Readings series.
  • Sean Murphy, fiction writer, critic, essayist, and executive director, 1455 Literary Arts, and.
  • Alexandria Petrassi, Mason MFA alum, poet, and now communications & development associate with Split This Rock.
  • Zach Powers, novelist and director of communications for The Writer’s Center.

7:30 p.m. — An evening with Rainbow Rowell. Bestselling YA novelist Rowell, author most recently of Wayward Son, will be in conversation with critic Bethanne Patrick. Presented by Fall for the Book and sponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library. Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center, 3740 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA.