Normandale Writing Festival

2016 Writing Festival Schedule

2016 Writing Festival Detailed Schedule and Session Descriptions

Normandale Community College will host its seventh annual Writing Festival on Thursday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Writing Festival is free and open to the public, and features hourly presentations on all aspects of writing.

Normandale will welcome two nationally-esteemed keynote speakers to campus this year, author Reginald Dwayne Betts and author Dr. Nina Smart.

A powerful and inspirational speaker, Reginald Dwayne Betts has written two collections of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era and Shahid Reads His Own Palm. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, is the story of a young man confined in the worst prisons in the state of Virginia, where solitary confinement, horrific conditions, and the constant violence threatened to break his humanity.

Instead, Betts used the time to turn himself into a poet, a scholar, and an advocate for the reform of the criminal justice system. The national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. Betts has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post, as well as being interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. For more information on this speaker please visit

Dr. Nina Smart was born in communist Romania and spent her teenage years in West Africa. Following a terrifying, life-changing experience, she immigrated to the United States of America in 1992. The author of the memoir Wild Flower, Dr. Nina Smart founded SWF International in 2004, an NGO that works to eradicate female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone. The recipient of several prestigious international awards for her humanitarian work, Dr. Smart travels the world to raise awareness about FGM and to present effective solutions on how to stop this human rights violation.

Writing Festival sessions will be facilitated by guest writers and writing professionals, along with Normandale faculty.  Sample topics include blogging your way into print, learning about the connections between Irish rock and literature, creative writing techniques, and how to get a job in social media writing.

The Normandale Writing Festival will also feature the annual reading of student winners and judges of Patsy Lea Core Living Memorial Award in Creative Writing. The judges will be author Bill Meissner, author of Spirits in the Grass, and poetry judge Rachel Moritz, author of Borrowed Wave, nominated for the Minnesota Book Award in 2016.

Normandale is home to a nationally-known AFA in Creating Writing program, and boasts seven published authors on its faculty, including a Minnesota Book winner and an Alex Award winner.For more information on this event, please contact Kris Bigalk, Director of Creating Writing at, or at 952-358-8384.