When Jim Brock, poet extraordinaire and conference brainchild, stopped me in the hall in fall 2005 and said, "Let's form a committee to start an annual writers conference on Sanibel Island," I joined on the spot because, well, it involved Jim, and it meant we had a chance of bringing some of our favorite writers to the area. Jim drafted the initial proposal and budget, and enlisted Kimberly Campanello, Jesse Millner, Adrian Greene, Ingrid Martinez-Rico, Karen Tolchin, Jim Robison, Mary Ferarro, Jane Meek, and Lori Cornelius to lend their wisdom and talent to the cause. We made a list of the writers we'd like to invite, and somehow managed to be productive, focused and agreeable. You wouldn't be reading these words were it not for the committee members' individual commitment and collective effort. Thanks to them all for pitching in and making a molehill out of a mountain chain.
Thanks to former Chairs Dr. Brad Busbee and Dr. Myra Mendible, former Dean Donna Henry, Vice President Steve Magiera, and former President William C. Merwin for flashing the green light and cutting the red tape. It is an understatement to say that your vision and enthusiasm, your monetary and moral support, and your acknowledgment of how important creative writing is at Florida Gulf Coast University made all this possible.
A special thanks to the eternally optimistic and encouraging former chair of the Department of Language & Literature, Dr. Joe Wisdom. He lives up to his name and exudes a serenity that lowers my pulse. Joe also owns a truck that can haul lots of refreshments.
Erica Krueger, Molly Creeger, Lynne Garcia, Dewie Robinson, Raymond Rodrigues, Niki Costantino & Patricia Rice: thanks for keeping track of everything I forget.
Especially huge shout outs & bottomless gratitude to:
President Michael V. Martin;
Provost James Llorens;
Former President Wilson G. Bradshaw & Joanna Bradshaw;
Former Provost Ronald Toll & Kathy Toll;
CAS Dean Robert Gregerson;
Department of Language & Literature Chair, Dr. Kimberly Jackson;
Jason Elek, Kelly Davis, Lori & John Cornelius, and the ground team of volunteers;
My colleagues in the Department of Language & Literature;
Former Dean Donna Henry;
The FGCU Foundation;
Dr. Jim Wohlpart and his wife Sasha Wohlpart;
Everyone at the Town & Gown Association;
Everyone at The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education;
Everyone at Community Relations and Marketing;
Jeff Weigel and the Sanibel Deli;
Lee Ellen, Marina, Chris, and everyone at BIG ARTS;
Jeff Cull, Nancy Stetson, and everyone at Florida Weekly;
Nancy McPhee and everyone at the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau and MMGY Global;
Darina Nikolov, Donna Stremke, Meghan Hian, Kay Hubbard, and everyone in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
It’s an understatement to say that your vision and enthusiasm, your monetary and moral support, and your acknowledgment of how important creative writing is at Florida Gulf Coast University makes all this possible. Bless you for making the conference not just survive; bless you for making it thrive.
FGCU's Creative Writing Club, members past & present, particularly founding officers Amy Ortolano, Andrew Schmid, Ally Wickman, and Kaleena Deland-Zepeda. High-fives to Makeda Amadi, Andrea McCrary, Michael Grissom, Courtney Spencer, and Shannon Crandall, for demonstrating initiative, intelligence, humor, and keen fashion sense;
Kevin Toler at Tolervision, for his design artistry;
Lourdes Méndez Germain, for her keen aesthetic sense and wonderful images;
Susanna Wohlpart, for her gorgeous photographs of Sanibel;
Dr. Tunde Szecsi, Dr. Lois Christensen, and Dr. Marcia Greene for their generosity and partnership;
Cindy Chinelly, for her sage advice, tasty bran muffins, and organic green tea;
The Sanibel Island Public Library, for the classroom space;
Dan Morgan, for the music equipment;
the Everham Clan, for all those canoes;
Alison Granucci and everyone at Blue Flower Arts;
the West Wind Inn, Sundial Resort, and Sanibel Resort, for the rooms with a view of every Sanibel sunset;
The whole gang at the Gulf Coast Writers Association;
Philip Heubeck, Lauren Baker, Pavol Roskovensky, Benjamin Shea Lindner, Andrew Morris and Joseph Kakareka, for the posters;
Mary Lou Hess and the Florida Writers Association, for spreading the word;
Andrea DeMarchi, for making 150 conference tote bags in 24 hours;
William, Kathleen, and Michael DeMarchi, for the support and encouragement;
Karen Tolchin & Charlie DeMarchi, for inspiration.
Thanks to everyone—colleagues & friends—who offered advice, donated time & money, volunteered, and helped promote the conference, including—but certainly not limited to—Etienne Wasson, Audrea Anderson, Kristen Vaughn, Glenn Miller, Sterling Watson, Kelly McCarthy, Joe Pacheco, Marta Lee, Christine Caya, Karyn Everham, Alejandro Oquendo, Joe Higgins, Julie Ann Howell, Karen Sloan, Kristin Nail, Chealsye Bowley, Edward Livesay, Dan Stanford, Becky Donlan, Karen Lynch, Rachel Wise, Rob Hiatt, Phoebe Azran, Ron Hefner, Susan Holland, Robert and Tracy Jones, Tristan Dufresne, Martha Rosenthal, Debbie Lewis, Susan Haley, Bud & Lee Willis, Phil Carter, Matthew Jacobson, Angel Taylor, and Morgan Souza, John Bond, Tanya Hochschild, Kevin Aho, Linda DiGloria, Sheila Bolduc-Simpson, Valerie Donovan, Britta Schulze, Mary & Sam Walch, Hillary Kaufman, Maria Roca, Jonathan Rose & Laura McDermott (of the excellent Palm Beach Poetry Festival), Amy Towne, Andrew Foley and everyone at Sarasota News & Books, Don Selby & Diane Boller at Poetry Daily, the folks at ShawGuides.com, Hollie at the Sanibel Island Bookshop, Theresa Acker, Laura Jensen and the whole staff at Follett, Amy Tardif, Conan Griffin & Julie Hoffman, Cathy Chestnut, Linda Campbell, Phil Thompson, and all the people who told their friends, announced it in their classes, hung up flyers, and forwarded e-mails. If you helped in any way and I neglected to list your name, give me a nuggie next time we cross paths.
To authors/workshop leaders/editors/agents, past and present, for writing so many words worth reading:
Derrick C. Brown
Robert Olen Butler
Bonnie Jo Campbell
Alicia Lynn Clancy
Ron Currie Jr.
Andre Dubus III
Beth Ann Fennelly
Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Sue Monk Kidd
Christina Baker Kline
Mary Beth Lundgren
Keith Lee Morris
Sena Jeter Naslund
Annemarie Ni. Churreain
Linda Oatman Hill
Jennifer Gill O'Neil
Alan Michael Parker
David James Poissant
John K. Samson
Mark Evan Schwartz
Ann Kidd Taylor
And most of all, I'd like to thank anyone and everyone who's ever attended the conference.