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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

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.


Karen McElmurrayKaren Salyer McElmurray writes both fiction and creative nonfiction, and her books include the memoir Surrendered Child (2006), which won the AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “notable book” by the National Book Critics Circle; the novels Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (2004), which won the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and The Motel of Stars (2008), listed as notable in the Oxford American Magazine. Most recently, she co-edited Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean with Adrian Blevins (2015). She holds an M.F.A., M.A. and Ph.D., and her work has received numerous awards from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Karen is also a lover of lakes, animals, sunlight and her native Appalachian tongue.


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.