The Rollins Writers Conference provides an opportunity for talented fiction writers and poets to apply themselves to their craft and art. The seven-day conference includes workshops, craft talks, panel discussions, manuscript reviews, and readings by some of the most engaging and celebrated authors writing today. In panel discussions we puzzle over, without reconciling, the elements of writing that lean against each other — the plangent emotions and mysteries of character, and the sentence, always the sentence. What can we make in and out of form? How does writing come to matter? The workshops place an emphasis upon building a critical foundation to sharpen participants’ perceptions about revision, and the individual instructional conferences assure a sustained dialogue with the faculty. The final evening reading showcases the writing of workshop participants.
Rollins has significant ties to contemporary literature. In his Nobel Prize speech in 1931, Sinclair Lewis mentioned Rollins as one of only four colleges and universities that support contemporary writing. The college’s tradition of inviting contemporary authors to campus includes Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Zora Neale Hurston, Carl Sandburg, and has continued through the decades. In 2016 the college began a partnership with the National Book Foundation. As the Southeast’s sole representative of the National Book Awards on-Campus Program, the college invites two National Book Award finalists to its yearly literary festival for master classes, on-stage interviews, and readings. The list of recent guests to this festival, Winter with the Writers, includes Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Adiche, Karen Russell, Derek Walcott, Billy Collins, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Charles Simic, Michael Ondaatje, and Jamaica Kincaid.