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Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Sanibel Island Writers Conference
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Tom DeMarchi, Director
Sanibel Island Writers Conference

Reed Hall 242
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565



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.

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 Wilson G. Bradshaw & Joanna Bradshaw;

  • Provost Ronald Toll & Kathy Toll;

  • CAS Dean Robert Gregerson;

  • Department of Language & Literature Chair, Dr. Kimberly Jackson;

  • Jason Elek, Lori & John Cornelius, Will Miller, Jarrod Neubert, and the ground team of volunteers;

  • My colleagues in the Department of Language & Literature;

  • Former Deans Aswani Volety & Donna Henry;

  • The FGCU Foundation;

  • Dr. Jim Wohlpart and his wife Sasha Wohlpart;

  • Linda Cardillo and everyone at the Town & Gown Association;

  • Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, Susan Stuart, Paul McCarthy, Brandon Hollingshead, Dr. Kristine DeWelde, and everyone at The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education;

  • Ken Schexnayder and his staff at Community Relations and Marketing (particularly Tim Clark, Dave Anderson, Karen Feldman & Lillian Pagan);

  • Linda Rowland and the entire FYRP/OBOC committee;

  • Richard Parham & Aramark;

  • Jeff and the Sanibel Deli;

  • Lee Ellen, Marina, Chris, and everyone at BIG ARTS;

  • Jeff Cull, Nancy Stetson, and everyone at Florida Weekly;

  • Nancy McPhee, Khandyce Mosely, Laura Chmielewsky, Micah Green, and everyone at the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau and MMGY Global;

  • 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;

  • Arlene Thompson and James Greco in The Department of Web, eLearning, and Publication Services at Florida Gulf Coast University, for designing and developing this site;

  • 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 Resport, and Holiday Inn, for the rooms with a view of every Sanibel sunset;

  • Richard Georgian, Carol Defrank, Jeri Magg, and Diana Foor and the whole 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;

  • Angela Petrella, Heidi Meredith, Chris Ying and the whole McSweeney's gang, for making Believers of us all;

  • 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—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, Mary Walch, Bud & Lee Willis, Phil Carter, Matthew Jacobson, Angel Taylor, and Morgan Souza, John Bond, Tanya Hochschild, Kevin & Elena 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, everyone at BIG ARTS, 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:

  • Erin Almond

  • Steve Almond

  • Jonathan Ames

  • MK Asante

  • Andrea Askowitz

  • Julianna Baggott

  • Lynne Barrett

  • Jordan Bass

  • Ishmael Beah

  • Dan Bern

  • Jill Bialosky

  • Richard Blanco

  • Charles Bock

  • Lisa Borders

  • John Brandon

  • Eve Bridburg

  • Stanley Brinks

  • Jim Brock

  • Derrick C. Brown

  • Nickole Brown

  • Christine Buckley

  • Don Bullens

  • Augusten Burroughs

  • Robert Olen Butler

  • Bonnie Jo Campbell

  • Kevin Canty

  • Nick Carbo

  • Margaret Cardillo

  • Ron Carlson

  • Christopher Castellani

  • Tom Chiarella

  • Kevin Clark

  • Brock Clarke

  • Camille Cline

  • Ron Currie Jr.

  • Edwidge Danticat

  • John Darnielle

  • Dean Davis

  • Erica Dawson

  • Larry Doyle

  • Andre Dubus III

  • John Dufresne

  • Denise Duhamel

  • Camille Dungy

  • Carmen Edington

  • Janice Eidus

  • Wayne Falbey

  • Beth Ann Fennelly

  • Craig Finn

  • Nick Flynn

  • Gina Frangello

  • Emily Franklin

  • Tom Franklin

  • Lisa Gallagher

  • Roxane Gay

  • Robert Gelinas

  • William Giraldi

  • Taylor Goldsmith

  • William Greenway

  • Stephanie Elizondo Griest

  • Jim Gustafson

  • Barbara Hamby

  • Artis Henderson

  • Sue Henshon

  • Kristin Hersh

  • Michael Hettich

  • Carl Hiaasen

  • Shane Hinton

  • Jay Hopler

  • John Hoppenthaler

  • Karl Iagnemma

  • Kristen Iversen

  • Leslie Jamison

  • Kimberly Johnson

  • Christopher Joyce

  • Heidi Julavits

  • David Kirby

  • Walter Kirn

  • Steve Kistulentz

  • Christina Baker Kline

  • Dorianne Laux

  • Jeanne Leiby

  • Kimberly Lojewski

  • Gary Louris

  • Mary Beth Lundgren

  • Molly Lyons

  • Nick Marino

  • Campbell McGrath

  • Ron MacLean

  • Jen McClung

  • Karen McElmurray

  • John McNally

  • Joe Meno

  • Kathryn Miles

  • Joseph Millar

  • Jesse Millner

  • Lyn Millner

  • CD Mitchell

  • Debra Monroe

  • Dito Montiel

  • Dinty Moore

  • Keith Lee Morris

  • Leonard Nash

  • Sena Jeter Naslund

  • Jeff Newberry

  • Tim O’Brien

  • Robert Olmstead

  • Susan Orlean

  • Alan Michael Parker

  • Jeff Parker

  • Tim Parrish

  • Benjamin Percy

  • Tom Piazza

  • David James Poissant

  • Neal Pollack

  • Mark Powell

  • Bobbie Pyron

  • Margo Rabb

  • Nahid Rachlin

  • Deborah Reed

  • Ryan Rivas

  • Henry Rollins

  • Nina Romano

  • Kathleen Rooney

  • Robert Root

  • Richard Russo

  • John K. Samson

  • John Sayles

  • Julia Scheeres

  • Christopher Schelling

  • Danielle Sellers

  • Jennifer Senior

  • Jim Shepard

  • Karen Shepard

  • Abby Sher

  • George Singleton

  • Lauren Small

  • Christine Sneed

  • Laurel Snyder

  • Wesley Stace

  • Michael Steinberg

  • JL Stermer

  • Megan Stielstra

  • Parker Stockman

  • Darin Strauss

  • Johnny Temple

  • Jeffrey Thompson

  • Karen Tolchin

  • Martin Tolchin

  • Susan Tolchin

  • Emma Trelles

  • Laura Valeri

  • Ian Vasquez

  • Judith Viorst

  • Willy Vlautin

  • Sidney Wade

  • Dan Wakefield

  • Alexis Washam

  • Jay Wexler

  • Liza Wieland

  • Robert Wilder

  • Tom Williams

  • Tom Zoellner

And most of all, I'd like to thank anyone and everyone who's ever attended the conference.

Thanks thanks thanks,

Tom DeMarchi, Director
October 2015