2019 Conference

Bart SutterIn his keynote address, Bart Sutter explored some mysteries of the writing life: how certain subjects seem to choose us more than we choose them; how we form a covenant with such material; how our deepest sources keep on surfacing in different forms; and the writer’s role as shaman, hunter-gatherer, and farmer.

The only writer to win the Minnesota Book Award in three different categories (poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction), Bart Sutter is the author of nine books, the most recent of which is Nordic Accordion: Poems in a Scandinavian Mood. He has written for public radio, he has had four verse plays produced, and he often performs as one half of The Sutter Brothers, a poetry-and-music duo. He lives in Duluth with his wife, the pastel artist Dorothea Diver, on a hillside overlooking Lake Superior.



Are you ready to ditch traditional publishing methods to get your work in print? During this presentation, attendees received an overview of the ever-changing world of on-demand publishing—aka self-publishing, vanity publishing, and indie publishing. Attendees went over the pros and cons of the current on-demand publishing services—when they work, how they work, and, ultimately, will they work for you? Through this workshop, attendees experienced what’s involved in getting your work published through on-demand services and discover whether they may be a fit for you.

Wendy is the President of Elder Eye Press (www.ElderEye.com), an editing, design, and “concierge” publishing firm she created with a dedication to helping clients get their books published with personal, one-on-one, attention, and by using the best design for all eyes. Having worked with clients who published through traditional book publishing methods, and having experienced, first-hand, the world of traditional book publishing with her own book “Yarn Works,” Wendy now specializes in on-demand printing, where the author and designer have more control over the final product. She has become a valuable resource for clients who wish to explore on-demand publishing and has successfully helped them publish a wide variety of books via such services.

As the “Legibility Doctor,” Wendy is also a presenter in the subject of universal design while promoting the following Elder Eye perspective: “When you design for the aging eye, you design for ALL eyes. When a designer knows what diminishes legibility, knowledge then exists for designing with optimal impact and clarity.” Wendy is currently writing a book about design legibility that is a compilation of her research on good design for the aging eye.

With a passion for all textile arts, Wendy founded another business, Saga Hill Designs (www.SagaHill.com), that uses her talents as an instructor, designer, writer, photographer, professional dyer, and fiber spinner. As W. J. Johnson, she authored a popular book on spinning, dyeing, and knitting yarn (Yarn Works: How to spin, dye, and knit your own yarn, pub. Quarto Publishing – Creative Publishing international, 2014) and has published many knitting patterns in traditionally-published books and through her own label. She is also an award-winning installation artist with two past outdoor exhibitions at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: 1 in 10,000 (Tree-ol-ogy) and Earthly Coat (Dirt-o-rama).

Wendy lives with her husband and two border collies in a home that she designed using aging-friendly concepts and ecologically-conscious materials.



Focusing on forms and uses of historical imagination, Joseph Amato introduced attendees to his most recent creation, Buffalo Man: A Boy Giant on the Minnesota River.

With fun and defiance, he explored the world of the Metis and the Dakota, post owners, early traders and settlers of the Minnesota River Valley in the 1850’s. He brought the past to life telling stories, mapping a new land, tracing a system of rivers, reciting folklore, making up jokes, and celebrating the power of body, metaphor, and religion.  He argues we find and express ourselves re-creating a past, whose variety far exceeds contemporary diversity.

Joseph A. Amato is married, has four children and five grandchildren. He walks
riverbanks, with and without a fishing pole, and prefers solitary prairie golf
courses when a breeze up. Born on the eastside of Detroit, Michigan, received his
B.A. in History from the University of Michigan in 1960; his M.A. in History from
the Université de Laval, Québec, in 1963, and Ph.D. in History from the
University of Rochester, New York, in 1970, plus advanced work on European
cultures with Professor Eugen Weber at U.C.L.A. in 1975-1976
In 1969 Amato began teaching at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU)
in Marshall, Minnesota where he was a founder and chair of the History
Department teaching a range of course in European history, social sciences, and
Amato reads with varying degree of proficiency Italian, French, Russian,
Spanish, and German (and some Biblical Greek) and is widely traveled in
Western Europe, Canada and Central and South America.
A known local, regional, and state speaker and innovator in understanding place
and the transformation of rural life, in 2003 Amato was honored as a Friend of
the Humanities by the Minnesota Humanities Commission and as Prairie Star by
the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Council. He served as an editor and advisor
to Historically Speaking. Amato won the Minnesota Humanities Prize for
Literature in 2005. He appears on a variety on Minnesota public T. V. and radio,
done podcasts and interviews in the nation, and Europe.



Max Goller is the Director of Education at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of his primary functions is to help educators gain teaching ideas related to world-renowned author Kurt Vonnegut. Goller retired with 20 years of service from the Untied States Navy in 2001, having served as an electronics technician, instructor and recruiter. Max currently teaches 8th grade English at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate Junior High School in Fishers, Indiana.

There are some fun similarities between Sinclair Lewis and Vonnegut. Both wrote for magazines to support their income and both were members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Vonnegut and Lewis both incorporated the limerick “Yon Yonson” in one of their novels: Vonnegut did so throughout Slaughterhouse Five and Lewis did so in Chapter 11 of Dodsworth. Both authors use the technique of returning to the same place—incorporating the same characters in different novels. Both authors also insert themselves into their stories.

In addition to these similarities, Vonnegut mentions a “Sinclair Lewis Room” in his novel Timequake, along with a “Hemingway Room”, etc. It’s part of Vonnegut’s gag about various rooms being named after alcoholic authors.

Goller’s presentation highlighted the struggles Kurt Vonnegut faced in writing Slaughterhouse Five, a novel that was largely autobiographical and one that was difficult for Vonnegut to find a publisher. Max shared Vonnegut’s rules for writing and discussed the important connections between Vonnegut and other prominent mid western authors, such as Sinclair Lewis.