Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A great opportunity for a kid you know

This announcement from the Mayborn School of Journalism sounds like a pretty cool deal!

The Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas is conducting a national biography contest and writing seminar for high school and community college students. 

The competition will provide scholarships to 10 winners and a teacher of each winner’s choice to attend the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference July 22-24 in Grapevine, Texas.

The Mayborn Conference is a gathering of renowned nonfiction storytellers from across the nation.  Focusing exclusively on non-fiction, the Mayborn has risen from obscurity to become, in the words of Esquire, “one of the most vital gatherings of writers in America.”

Last summer, Harvard's Nieman Narrative Digest sent its editor, Andrea Pitzer, to cover the Mayborn Conference. 

The summer before, the Columbia Journalism Review covered the conference.

The 2011 conference will feature some of the nation’s most prominent narrative nonfiction storytellers. Topping the list is the Mayborn’s Saturday night keynote speaker, Ted Conover, who has ridden the rails with hoboes, snuck across the border with Mexicans, traveled with truck drivers on East Africa’s “AIDS highway,” worked as a prison officer and much more to live inside his subjects’ stories. 

Susan Casey, the editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, puts herself in harm’s way to write about gigantic rogue waves that sink massive freighters and great white sharks, giving new meaning to the term “immersion reporting.”  

And, at age 24, Joshua Foer, a science writer for Slate magazine, spent a year training for the U.S. Memory Championship by extracting secrets from the world's memory savants. Not only did he become a memory champion, he was also offered a $1.2 million contract to write a book about his adventures.

Besides Conover, this year’s keynote speakers are Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love, a memoir that Joyce Carol Oates describes as “intimate, richly documented, and beautiful,” and The Zookeepers Wife: A War Story, a WWII saga of a courageous zookeeper’s wife who sheltered 300 Jews and Polish resisters in her villa and in animal cages and sheds, and the only two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the Washington Post’s syndicated-columnist Gene Weingarten. One of his Pulitzer Prize winners began as a stunt. He put a world-class musician in the basement of a Washington, D.C., subway station to see if passers-by would stop and listen.

In total, the conference will feature more than 25 of the nation’s pre-eminent journalists and authors. Bob Shacochis, a National Book Award Winner (Swimming in the Volcano) who spoke at last year's conference, says the Mayborn is "the most compelling, remarkable writers' conference I've attended in more than 20 years of writers' conferences around the nation. Thanks to the Mayborn tribe of storytellers, I think of Dallas as a preferred destination, a center of literary gravity, perhaps the very heart of the universe these days for nonfiction writers in America.”

Biography Contest Details

The competition will provide scholarships to 10 winners and a teacher of each winner’s choice to attend the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference July 22-24.

The 10 winning students and their teachers will be recognized at the Mayborn Conference’s Saturday's night Literary Lights Dinner, and their biographies will be published in The Dallas Morning News. In addition to free conference registration, the 10 winning students will get to participate an all-day workshop with Pulitzer biographer, James McGrath Morris.

Our partners in this endeavor include Shirley Hammond, Barbara Bush's education director in Texas, and Dallas-based Big Thought, a nationally renowned non-profit building partnerships that allow all children access to quality learning opportunities. The contest is funded by Lee Hancock, a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, and Jim Moroney, publisher of The Dallas Morning News.

The deadline for entering the Mayborn's Biography Contest is Monday, June 20, at midnight.

To enter the competition, teachers and their students must register and listen to the archived recording of James McGrath Morris's lecture on narrative nonfiction and biography writing at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. To do that, please go to:

There's a three-step process to enter our biography writing contest:

1) Register by filling out the registration information at the bottom of the homepage.

2) Watch the video of the March 3 event at the Bush Library on the Art and Craft Nonfiction Event. To do that, please click on the streaming link on this page. If the streaming link doesn't function on your computer, please click on the "download" function.

3) Read the contest rules carefully, fill out the application form and send your biography to George Getschow at the address listed on the application form.

Details about the contest can also be found at the Mayborn Conference website

I wanted to go to this but I found out about it too late. I'll be there next year for sure!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I'm thrilled that U. North Texas is taking such a big initiative. I wish that I'd had this opportunity as a college/grad student Sadly, my university -- which used to be one of the "Big Three" journalism schools back in the day -- is nowhere in the game. V. disappointing, but to be expected, given the devastating blow to higher education in Texas.