This past week, Sundress Publications and A Novel Idea bookstore sponsored Secluded: A Virtual Writing Conference with three days of online talks, readings, and even happy hours. I was able to attend Ira Sukrungruang’s keynote “Writing as Survival,” in which he spoke about the role of writing during times of chaos, uncertainty, and despair. Both a teacher and a father, his insightful honesty provided a sense of grounding. Ira named authors he encourages his students to read, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxanne Gay, and Claudia Rankin, commenting:
Not to say these books will give you an answer, but to me, these books inform me, it insulates me in a community of people who want to talk instead of who to say something – who is refusing to listen. One of the things that I always preach nowadays to my students is that I’d rather you listen to the world at this point before you even open your mouth. But when you open your mouth, and I encourage them to, I encourage you to write, to speak out, to protest peacefully, to go out there and say what’s on your mind, what’s ailing your heart. But I think you also have to listen to what the world is trying to tell you.
The conference was free and recorded for replay here.