Session and Speaker Preview: Viannah Duncan – Who Says CNF Has to be Prose?

v.e. duncanViannah Duncan attended college during her undergrad years on the outskirts of downtown Lancaster, and she’s excited to return to Pennsylvania to share some wisdom on making creative nonfiction a little more poetic. We ask Viannah a few questions about her upcoming appearance at HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers.

Hippo: We don’t want to give too much away about your session, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Viannah: When I was starting my MFA, a guy in one of the older cohorts had already published several collections of poetry and was in the program to focus on his other writing skills. He said, “For my thesis, I’ll be writing a book of non-poetry.” Everyone laughed, but the idea stuck with me. It had never occurred to me before that comment that we separate prose between truth and fiction, but with poetry we don’t: it’s an entirely new way to look at both truth and fiction. I hope that attendees will come out of my session with a new appreciation for truth-telling in poetry and poetry in their prose as well.

Tell us who would benefit most from your session and why.  

If you’re scared of poetry, then this session is for you! If you’re a veteran poet but want to make your nonfiction prose even better, here’s the place. Come one, come all!

What is your best advice for attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?

Oh, heavens. This is a tough one. I’m actually an introverted person, so I have to make time to recharge in my room periodically. I know that conferences are for learning new things and networking, but if you’re like me, don’t feel bad about taking a breather every now and then. The panels and sessions you do attend will be that much better for it; take care of yourself first!

Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the inaugural HippoCamp?

Soaking it all in. Seriously, I want to learn as much as I can fit into my brain so I’ll have something to think about for the rest of the summer! I also hope to catch up with colleagues and make new friends.

What’s on your personal conference agenda? Perhaps share with us a session/event you don’t want to miss.

I always really enjoy hearing writers read their own work, so I’m gung ho for the evening readings, to be sure! Also, I’ll definitely be grabbing a seat in Jennifer McGuiggan’s “One Minute Memoir” session. I love flash fiction, and flash nonfiction sounds right up my alley.

What are you most looking forward to about returning to Lancaster–and sharing with people who’ve never been here?  

I went to undergraduate and graduate school in Pennsylvania and then moved from there to New York City to Los Angeles. I’m really looking forward to seeing my East Coast friends again!