Over the years, the Writers @ Work Conference in Park City has set itself apart.
Part of it has to do with that distinctive "Men at Work" logo and the "at" symbol in the name.Part of it has to do with longevity. Now in its 14th year, the conference has become venerable with age.
But the big reason Writers @ Work stands out is the strong corps of writers and instructors it fields each year. More than 200 nationally prominent authors - ranging from poets May Swenson and Rita Dove to western landmarks such as Terry Tempest Williams and Page Stegner - have made their way to Park City to help local wordsmiths learn the craft.
"I think a combination of things draws quality writers here," says Maureen Clark, vice president of Writers @ Work. "The generosity of the Utah writing community is one reason they like to come, and the setting is another. The poet, Peggy Shumaker, for example, was here last year and wanted to return. So we have her helping with our Young Writers Program this year."
This year the conference will run from July 12-17 and be headquartered at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City.
Among the faculty for the 1998 edition are Jim McManus, Debra Monroe, Bernard Cooper, Dagoberto Gilb, Rodney Jones, Judith Kitchen and Terrel Seltzer. Favorite instructors from years past include editor Carol Houck Smith, Edmund Stevens and Nancy Stauffer Cahoon.
Elizabeth Hadas, Rob Odom, Allan Kornblum, Elizabeth Wales and Reese Wayne Golden will be the visiting writers with Utah's poet laureate, David Lee, spearheading the Young Writers Program along with Shumaker and Rob Van Wagoner.
Passes for the afternoon panels are $40 or $200 a week. Free readings are scheduled in the evenings at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The readings have evolved from a "good idea" to a major tradition.
"It's true," says Clark. "We do have traditions, but we also try to do some new things each year just to see how they fly."
One tradition will be changing next year, however. Writers @ Work will be moving from Park City to the Westminster College Campus in Salt Lake City.
"With the Olympics coming, our organization has been priced out of the Park City area," says Clark. "But we're excited to move down to Salt Lake City. We're hoping the Westminster venue will attract a lot more local writers who can't stay over at Park City.
Many classes still have openings. Call Clark at 292-4327 or 323-3427 for details about registration.