Department of English
Young Writers' Conference
Hosted annually by Fresno State's Department of English, the YWC gathers hundreds of Central California's brightest young writers and their teachers on campus for a day of creative writing and imagination.
This year's event:
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On campus: Satellite Student Union
Online: Zoom broadcast
Friday, February 24, 2023
Friday, April 7, 2023
Keynote Speaker: Ethan Chatagnier
Ethan Chatagnier is the author of Singer Distance, a literary speculative novel about a silent civilization on Mars, a quest to understand their mathematics, and emotional distances between people on Earth. Published by Tin House Books, Singer Distance has appeared on most-anticipated lists at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Millions, Lit Hub, Gizmodo, Vulture, Popsugar, Alta Journal, and Daily Hive. Foreword Reviews called the book "the most arresting science fiction novel in recent memory."
Ethan's story collection Warnings from the Future was a Foreword INDIES award finalist and was published by Acre Books. His short stories have won a Pushcart Prize, been noted in the Best American Short Stories anthology, and appeared in literary magazines including Story, the New England Review, the Georgia Review, and The Normal School. His reviews, interviews, and essays have appeared in Lit Hub, The Millions, TriQuarterly, the Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
An alumnus of Fresno State, Ethan lives with his family here in Fresno, California.
Each spring since 1980, the Department of English and the Creative Writing Program host the Young Writers’ Conference for area high school students, with support from the College of Arts and Humanities and more than a dozen campus and community sponsors.
The conference provides a valuable opportunity for young writers to hear a professional author read their work and answer questions about the creative writing process and profession. It also allows young writers to meet and interact with other student writers from across Central California, to get a taste of what a university-level writing workshop might be like, and to receive feedback on their own writing.
Our department’s graduate students, as part of their commitment to community service, teach the creative writing workshops. Our undergraduate editing and publishing students serve as the editorial board of the conference’s youth journal, Spectrum, which celebrates the best work submitted by participating schools.
The conference also provides excellent training and an opportunity for an exchange of ideas among creative writing and English teachers. The conference stands as an excellent example of an ongoing collaborative effort between local school districts and the university.
By registering for the event, participants agree to comply with all health and safety protocols required by the campus and event organizers. These protocols are subject to change, depending on local health conditions.
Health screening tool: All guests are required to complete the Daily Health Screening Questionnaire in advance of coming to campus. If the screening questionnaire results in the guest receiving a Red X, the guest should not attend.
Face coverings: Regardless of vaccination status, all guests and members of the campus community are strongly encouraged to wear a surgical mask or better (e.g. N95, KN95, KF94) when indoors and in crowded outdoor areas.
Reporting illness: If guests become ill within two (2) days after the event, they must notify the event organizers right away. The organizers will then contact the campus Office of Environmental Health and Safety/Risk Management.
Help at the venue: The organizers will make surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes available for general use.
Registration deadline: April 7, 2023
Registration form | Participant form
Registration: We accept registration between Jan. 23 and April 7. Payment arrangements are required by April 7 and will be accepted no later than conference day. Registration includes admission to the morning awards and keynote sessions, and afternoon workshop. It includes a copy of our youth journal, Spectrum. In-person participants also receive a box lunch.
Please provide a complete roster of all participants — both students and teachers — by April 7.
Payment for on-campus participants: Cost to attend on campus is $15 per participant, both for students and for teachers. This covers lunch and supplies. Payment should be completed as early as possible. Payment options are by purchase order, by check, or online with a credit card. Let us know if you have payment questions.
Payment for online participants: There is no registration fee for online participants.
Registration limit: The conference is open to students from 9th to 12th grades, with a limit of 20 students and 4 teachers per school. Please use a selection method that will allow your most talented and motivated students to attend.
Register now: Early registration provides time to adequately prepare for materials and meals. This year, there will be no late registration permitted.
Refunds: A refund may be granted with an emailed request by April 17. No other refunds can be granted.
Consent to be filmed: Please note that photography and filming will be taking place at this event for promotional and archival purposes; photos and video will appear on our website and social media. By registering, participants consent to this documentation. If you would prefer to opt out, let the organizers know in advance.
Lunch preferences: We will do our best to honor box lunch sandwich preferences. Please also let us know if you have participants with additional dietary needs.
Workshop preferences: Each on-campus participant attends one workshop in the Afternoon Session. All workshops this year will be taught in a multigenre style. We will attempt to keep full school delegations together, including teachers, for health and safety reasons.
For payment questions, contact email@example.com or call 559.278.1569.
Checks payable to: Fresno State
With memo: English - Young Writers
Check payments sent to:
5150 N. Maple Ave., JA58
Fresno, CA 93740
LET US KNOW IF YOU NEED A FORMAL INVOICE or a link to pay online by credit card.
PLEASE EMAIL A COPY OF YOUR P.O. to firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuscript submission deadline: February 24, 2023
An important part of the conference is the publication of our youth journal, Spectrum. All participating students are encouraged to submit works of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama to be considered. Select manuscripts will receive awards.
We will accept manuscripts electronically from Jan. 23 through Feb. 24. This allows us time for reading and judging, as well as layout and printing of the anthology.
Email manuscripts to: YWCsubmissions@mail.fresnostate.edu
- Teachers are responsible for ensuring that students submit original work.
- Include in subject line: 1. genre, 2. author's name, 3. school.
- Include in the document, upper left corner of the first page: 1. genre, 2. author’s name, 3. school, 4. grade, and 5. the teacher’s name.
- Must be .doc or .docx format.
- No graphics or unusual fonts.
- Limit: 3 poems and/or 2 works of prose (please limit prose pieces to 7 pages each).
Only a limited number of submissions can be published.
Location: Satellite Student Union, Fresno State
- 8:15 - 9:00 — Registration
- 9:00 - 9:45 — Welcome and awards presentations
- 9:45 - 10:45 — Morning session, feat. keynote speaker
- 10:45 - 11:45 — Lunch
- 12:00 - 2:00 — Afternoon session, feat. workshops
Campus map: FresnoState.edu/map
Event-day questions: Call 559.278.1569.
Parking: Participants can receive a one-day free parking pass from kiosks at most university entrances using a coupon code (to come). Parking recommended in Lots P5 or P6. Buses may drop students at the Satellite Student Union.
Registration area: Teachers can pick up conference packets on the day of the event outside the Satellite Student Union entrance.
Online access: Several days before the conference, each school’s lead teacher will be emailed a Zoom link to share with online participants. Morning sessions will be webinar style.
You can directly impact the next generation of writers with your contribution to the conference.
Option A: $360 gift — Supports a full delegation of 20 students and 4 teachers
Option B: $180 gift — Supports a half delegation of 10 students and 2 teachers
Option C: $15 gift — Supports one student
Option D: any amount — General gift supports conference operations
Sponsor benefits would include:
- Mention in event program and on big-screen slides at conference
- Mention on conference website
- Mention in Spectrum anthology
To support the Young Writers' Conference, you can give online or by mail anytime.
Please make your gift through Fresno State's safe and secure online giving form.
1. Click on View All Giving Opportunities
2. Select "Other" and click Continue
3. Under Please Specify, write in: "English — Young Writers"
4. Continue with your personal information
Give by Mail
Please make your check payable to the Fresno State Foundation, with the memo "English — Young Writers," and mail it to:
College of Arts and Humanities
2380 E. Keats Ave., MB99
Fresno CA 93740-8024
Past Conference Journals
The conference's youth journal, Spectrum, celebrates the best creative writing submitted by area schools.
Full recording of 2023 morning session, including keynote with author Ethan Chatagnier (via CMAC TV)
Full recording of 2022 morning session, including keynote with author Kristen Radke (via CMAC TV)
List of 2016 award winners (pdf, 222kb)
2016 Spectrum journal (pdf, 801kb)
2016 Spectrum cover (pdf, 230kb)
List of 2015 award winners (pdf, 238kb)
2015 Spectrum journal (pdf, 742kb)
2015 Spectrum cover (pdf, 643kb)
Past Keynote Speakers
If you have information on past keynote speakers, please contact our admin staff.
Ethan Chatagnier (2023)
Kristen Radke (2022)
Nic Stone (2021)
Naomi Shihab Nye (2020)
Maceo Montoya (2019)
Mai Der Vang (2018)
Kristin FitzPatrick (2017)
Aimee Nezhukumatathil (2016)
Elena Passarello (2015)
Steve Yarbrough (2014)
Gary Jackson (2013)
Liza Wieland (2012)
Alex Espinoza (2011)
Tim Z. Hernandez (2010)
Steven Church (2009)
Mona Simpson (2008)
David Mas Masumoto (2006)
David Dominguez (2004)
John Hales (2003)
David Borofka (2002)
Juan Felipe Herrera and Margarita Luna Robles (1995)
Liza Wieland (1994)
C. G. Hanzlicek (1992)
Corrinne Clegg Hales (1991)
Steve Yarbrough (1990)
Sherley Anne Williams (1989)
Gary Soto (1988)
Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1986)
James D. Houston
To donate, contact the conference coordinator