Writers, journalists, film-makers and other non-fiction practitioners from around the world met for three days of vibrant conversation and debate at the 2015 NonfictioNOW conference.
NonfictioNOW is a regular gathering of over 400 non-fiction writers, teachers, and students from around the world in an effort to explore the past, present, and future of non-fiction.
NonfictioNOW is unique in being neither a conventional academic conference nor a writers’ festival, but rather, a conversation among peers, from well-established writers and artists to those just starting out.
This year the conference was held at Northern University in Arizona in October where RMIT’s nonfictionLab co-presented with partners Northern Arizona University and Yale NUS College, Singapore.
Associate Professor David Carlin, co-director of RMIT’s nonfictionLab said it was a thrill to be able to co-chair NonfictioNOW, which is the leading international gathering for innovative and creative nonfiction writers 2015 in Flagstaff.
“Non-fiction is an increasingly popular and varied field, ranging from memoir and essay to literary journalism, travel writing and narrative history — not to mention graphic memoir, radio, television and online documentaries," Carlin said.
“There is so much to discuss, including questions of art, ethics, truth, authenticity and the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction.
“NonfictionLab and RMIT is delighted to have been able to once again co-present this significantevent, the largest of its kind in the world.
Melbourne-based writer of non-fiction and poetry, Samantha Van Zweden, was funded by Melbourne's City of Literature office to travel to and blog for NonfictioNOW 2015.
Van Sweden said presenting a paper at NonfictioNOW was utterly unlike any other conference or festival experience she’d had.
“It brings together a deep interrogation of writing practice - its methods, as well as its significance and impact - with the curiosity that comes from sharing work and appreciating other writers’ ideas,”Van Zweden said.
Bentley Snow, student at USA's Brigham Young University, said NonfictioNOW involves mingling with a small multitude of kind, thoughtful, articulate people who seek to live and share meaning with others.
“As someone who goes for that sort of thing, I found this one of my year's highlights. I'd often heard it preached that essayists--folks who explicitly aim to sense the wonders of the everyday--tend to be particularly pleasant people. My experience a few weeks ago confirmed it," Snow said.
Creative writers and researchers from RMIT's nonfictionLab, including Associate Professor Francesca Rendle-Short, Dr Jessica Wilkinson and Lucinda Strahan, and research students including Peta Murray and Benjamin Laird, led the impressive Australian presence at the conference.
Cutting-edge forms and topics explored included poetic biographies, performance essays, andexperimental memoir.
Australian science writer and explorer Tim Flannery was one of the conference’s keynote speakers.
RMIT will once again co-present NonfictioNOW in 2017 in Reykjavik, in partnership with the University of Iceland.
Story: Wendy Little