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Writers' Conference
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Language Arts Division

From Past to Present

In the summer of 1975, two Foothill College English instructors, Ann Connor and the late Dick Maxwell, established the first Foothill Creative Writers' Conference. Held for a full week in the summer, the conference offered workshops involving dialogue and instruction on all aspects of creative writing.

During the 1980's, Dick headed up the conference with the help of some colleagues in the English department. In the early 1990's, Kim Wolterbeek and Jim Whearty served as co-directors and continued the fine tradition of the Conference. Since 2003, Doren Robbins has been the Conference Director.

For 30 years, the Foothill College Writers' Conference has continued to serve the community and has brought recognition and prestige to the college. Foothill's Writers' Conference is unique in that it is the only Bay Area writing conference available to all members of the community.

At each conference, Foothill College has assembled a distinguished faculty of visiting writers and poets intended to reflect and attract our diverse community population. Some years, the conference has attracted more than 200 students. Well-known poet Jane Hirshfield, an early instructor at the Conference, writes about it as follows:

I teach at various other conferences, and whenever I urge students to attend the one at Foothill I tell them that there's no other that compares with it. It has a wonderful community spirit, a very large and varied faculty, all of whom are highly qualified and bring something unique to the conference, and is affordable for people who may not be able to travel long distances from home and pay higher fees. It is the most democratic-feeling of conferences - utterly uncompetitive, friendly, warm, and diverse - and also completely serious in the commitment to craft and the art of good literature. Students range from beginning writers to those who have engaged in many years of serious work, and they seem to me to coexist splendidly... Panel offerings, classes, and workshops are well-conceived and wide ranging.

Another writer-instructor, Mary-Marcia Casoly, describes the Foothill Writers' Conference as "invaluable to the creative writing community of the South Bay," and as "the most intimate and encouraging to be found anywhere."

Robert Haas, United States Poet Laureate from 1995 - 1997, wrote that "no literary institution in Northern California has done more for students, young writers, and the literary community than the Foothill Conference has . . .the easy and completely democratic air of each summer's proceedings were a great gift."

Other well-known writers and poets who have participated in the Writers' Conference include Grace Paley, Raymond Carver, Chitra Divakaruni, and Adrienne Rich.

Each summer, we offer this five-day conference at a very reasonable cost so that members of our community can take advantage of this opportunity to hear from a wide range of published writers and poets.

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