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This Lonely Frontier: Exploring Boundaries of Space, Identity and Genre

Oct. 25-27, 2018

Join us for the 11th biennial John R. Milton Writers' Conference at the University of South Dakota. The 2018 conference theme, “This Lonely Frontier: Exploring Boundaries of Space, Identity, and Genre,” celebrates the 50th anniversary of Milton’s poetry collection This Lonely House (1968).

We are excited to confirm Percival Everett, Ellen Forney, Karen Salyer McElmurray and Erika Wurth as keynote and featured authors. In addition, Ellen Forney will deliver a workshop on creating comics, and the conference will feature readings by USD’s Department of English faculty Duncan B. Barlow, Leah McCormack and Lee Ann Roripaugh.

The biennial John R. Milton Writers’ Conference is a national literary conference established in 1998 and held at the University of South Dakota.


Registration for the 2018 Milton Writers' Conference is now open! Register on or before Oct. 1, 2018 to secure the lower early rate.

Register Online

To register by mail and pay via check, please print and follow the instructions on the paper registration form.

Program and Visitor Details

Travel, Lodging and Dining Information

Program and Schedule

  • On Thursday, Oct. 25, Abby Bischoff will kick off the events with a photography exhibition and talk at the Coyote Twin Theaters & Gallery (10 East Main Street, Downtown Vermillion), from 4:00-5:30 p.m., which will be followed by featured readings by Jerry and Norma Wilson and an Open-Mic reading at The Varsity Pub, from 7-9 p.m.
  • On Friday, Oct. 26, USD faculty members Duncan B. Barlow, Leah McCormack and Lee Ann Roripaugh will give a reading in Farber Auditorium in Old Main, from 3:30-5 p.m. A keynote talk by comics artist and NYT Bestselling author Ellen Forney will take place in Farber Auditorium later that evening, from 8-9:30 p.m.
  • On Saturday, Oct. 27, Ellen Forney will lead a workshop (for registered attendees) on creating comics in Old Main 212, from 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Featured authors Erika T. Wurth and Brian Brodeur will give a reading in Farber Auditorium, from 3:30-5 p.m. on Saturday. Keynote author and prominent literary figure Percival Everett will conclude the conference events with a reading in Farber Auditorium, from 8-9 p.m.

All of the featured and keynote readings and the Bischoff exhibit are free and open to the public.

Contact information:

Keynote and Featured Authors

Percival EverettPercival Everett is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of nearly 30 books, including Percival Everett by Virgil RussellAssumptionErasureI Am Not Sidney Poitier and Glyph. He is the recipient of the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Believer Book Award and the 2006 PEN USA Center Award for Fiction. He has fly fished the west for over 30 years and lives in Los Angeles.


Ellen ForneyCartoonist Ellen Forney is the author of the graphic memoirs Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me (2012), a New York Times bestseller, and Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life (2018). The 2012 Genius Award winner in literature from Seattle's The Stranger, she collaborated with Sherman Alexie on the National Book Award-winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, curated the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit, Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived and Well Drawn and has taught comics at Cornish College of the Arts since 2002.


Brian BrodeurBrian Brodeur is the author of five poetry collections, including Every Hour Is Late (2019) and the chapbook Local Fauna (2015). New poems and critical essays appear or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Hopkins Review, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Measure, Pleiades and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive How a Poem Happens as well as the Veterans Writing Workshop of Richmond, Indiana, Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.


Erika WurthErika Wurth is the author of two poetry collections, Indian Trains (2007) and A Thousand Horses out to Sea (2017), the novel Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend (2014) and the short story collection Buckskin Cocaine (2017, published by USD’s Astrophil Press). Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including BoulevardDrunken BoatThe Writer’s Chronicle and USD’s own South Dakota Review. She received her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Denver and has been a guest writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Wurth is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised outside of Denver.