Arkansas Writers Conference

A Tradition Ends

June 1st, 2024 marked the end of an 80 year educational tradition supporting the craft of writing. With the theme of The Joy of Writing, the 80th Arkansas Writers’ Conference was brought to a close by Conference Director Brenda Iannacone. In her closing remarks, she announced this would also be the last Arkansas Writers’ Conference. The Arkansas Writers’ Conference board of directors met earlier in the year and made the difficult decision to bring an end to the conference.

As a way to celebrate the 80-year tradition, the conference involved fewer contests, but increased cash prizes. Contest entry fees were reduced as well. Arkansas Writer’s Hall of Fame recipient Laura Castoro was the conference keynote speaker. She gave a presentation entitled How Writers Read: Learn to stimulate your imagination. Former AWC board member and Pioneer Branch Pen Women member Helen Austin spoke about Journalism. Clarissa Willis made a presentation from a Publisher’s Perspective: Who’s Who and What’s What.

Anthony Wood, a White County Creative Writer member, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. He is the author of the Civil War series, A Tale of Two Colors. The sixth book in the series, Storm of Terror, was published May 20, 2024. Other Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame recipients in attendance were Dot Hatfield, Del Garrett, Janis F. Kearney, Linda Apple, and speaker Laura Castoro.

Although the conference ends, the tradition of honoring an Arkansas writer of merit will continue. White County Creative Writers has agreed to take over the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame.

Brenda Iannacone has served as the director of the Arkansas Writers’ Conference since 2015. She is also President of the Pioneer Branch of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), which was the sponsor of the Conference. The Pioneer Branch of NLAPW was founded in 1920. In 1944, the Pioneer Branch’s dream to encourage writers evolved into the first Arkansas Writers’ Conference.

The board wishes to express its gratitude for the support that has kept the conference going for a fantastic 80 year run. Many thanks to all the sponsors and attendees over the years. Serving on the Board of Directors for the conference was Brenda, Ellen Withers, Janis F. Kearney, Sara Gipson, and Rita Goodgame. All of these board members have served in various positions on the committee for many years.

Ellen E. Withers
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3 thoughts on “A Tradition Ends

  1. I hate to see this conference die. It was one of my favorites for multiple reasons. It was super-affordable, the food was good, and the price to enter contests was the best. The organizers were dedicated and always welcoming. The contests were challenging and fun. And the attendees made it seem like a family reunion every year. Thank you to everyone who has made this conference possible for so long and took us Okies in like we were family. (We ARE family! We have lots of roots there!) I will miss my Living Mystery contest. My judges and I felt lost without it this year. Best wishes to the organizers and I hope to see everyone at some of the other conferences. God bless you all!

  2. I forgot to mention: Ellen, this was a very good article. I loved the article; hated the news it shared. Our whole family will really miss this conference. The grandkids were heartbroken when they learned the news.

  3. To the board the of Arkansas Writers Conference,
    After the first surprise and slight heartbreak, I quickly came to understand that ole adage: nothing good lasts forever. But, wow, what a ride! 80 years of celebration and veneration of writing, specifically Arkansas writers. As the 2005 inductee into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame, I am forever thrilled by that honor. We will miss you. You gave our state and the country — those contests were notorious in all 50 — the best you had to offer and encouraged and benefited so many. I honor your service and dedication to a craft/art we all love and share.

    Laura Parker Castoro
    aka D. D. Ayres

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