Story Catcher Summer Workshop!!!

HOT OFF THE PRESS: we have an updated program for the 2013 Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop and Festival.

For a full PDF version of the program click this link:  Storycatcher Program 2013


May 28 to May 31, 2013

twitter #storycatcherworkshop

We are thrilled to be back again this year with a stellar lineup of professional writers to lead our second annual Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop & Festival–special guest Jonis Agee will give a keynote address and lead two workshops on  writing about place and getting started with your prose. Advanced/Intermediate multi-day workshops will be offered by award winning novelist Pamela Carter Joern and essayist Linda M. Hasselstrom. Renowned poet Kwame Dawes will lead a poetry workshop and read from his latest work, while Marianne Kunke, Managing Editor of Prairie Schooner, will offer an “insider’s view” on publishing in journals, such as Prairie Schooner, considered one of the first and finest. Additional workshops with experienced writers focusing on fiction, non-fiction prose and poetry will be offered throughout the three days–capped with a FESTIVAL that will celebrate the writing from the workshop and the region. A summary of the program follows.

Tuesday, May 28th

(Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Atrium)

3 to 5 pm  Check-in & Registration

5 to 6pm Reception

  • 5 to 5:30 Intermediate Workshop Participants meet with their instructors)
  • 5:40 Opening Remarks

6 pm  Keynote:  Jonis Agee  “To Awaken the Sleepers”

 Wednesday, May 29th

(Chadron State College and/or Locations in Region)

9 to 11 am Beginning Workshops  (1 of 2)

  • These workshops take place over two mornings and focus on the elements of writing in a specific genre, generating material, and tips and techniques for shaping your work for publication.
    • Beginning Fiction (Poe Ballantine and Matthew Evertson)
    • Beginning Poetry (R.F. McEwen)
    • Beginning Non-Fiction Prose (Rich Kenney)

8 to 11 am Intermediate Workshops (1 of 3)

  • Intermediate to Advanced Level. Space is limited and additional registration fee required. These workshops take place over three mornings and focus on writing that is already in progress, with an emphasis on peer editing, revision and shaping your narrative towards publication.
    • Memoir/Nonfiction (Linda Hasselstrom)
    • Fiction (Pamela Carter Joern)

1 to 3 pm  Jonis Agee “A Sense of Where You Are”

  • Non-fiction/Fiction: writing about place. (All levels)


3:15 to 4:15 pm  Paula Bosco Damon “Get Down to Writing”

  • Non-fiction/Fiction: This hands-on workshop will demystify the perennial question of what to write about and demonstrate how to crack the code for writer’s block. (All Levels)

“Writing Around” (field trips with writing opportunities—locations and times TBA)

Evening Readings (TBA)

Thursday, May 30th

(Chadron State College and/or Locations in Region)

9 to 11 am Beginning Workshops  (2 of 2)

  • These workshops take place over two mornings and focus on the elements of writing in a specific genre, generating material, and tips and techniques for shaping your work for publication.
    • Beginning Fiction (Poe Ballantine and Matthew Evertson)
    • Beginning Poetry (R.F. McEwen)
    • Beginning Non-Fiction Prose (Rich Kenney)

8 to 11 am Intermediate Workshops (2 of 3)

  • Intermediate to Advanced Level. Space is limited and additional registration fee required. These workshops take place over three mornings and focus on writing that is already in progress, with an emphasis on peer editing, revision and shaping your narrative towards publication.
    • Memoir/Nonfiction (Linda Hasselstrom)
    • Fiction (Pamela Carter Joern)


1 to 3 pm  Jonis Agee “The First Five Pages”

  • Non-fiction/Fiction: how to open your story with a lasting impression. (All levels)


1 to 3 pm  Kwame Dawes “Chameleons of Suffering”

  • Poetry: Beginning with a half-hour exploration of empathy through a short lecture, Kwame will then lead a hands-on workshop for poets through a series of exercises and discussion. (All levels)


3:15 to 4:15 pm  Marianne Kunkel “Publishing in Journals: An Insider’s View”

  • Seminar—strategies of publishing poetry and prose in contemporary literary journals, and her talk will be followed by a  Q&A on the subject. (All levels)

“Writing Around” (field trips with writing opportunities—locations and times TBA)

Evening Readings (TBA)

Friday, May 31st

(Chadron State College and/or Locations in Region)

8 to 11 am Intermediate Workshops (3 of 3)

  • Intermediate to Advanced Level. Space is limited and additional registration fee required. These workshops take place over three mornings and focus on writing that is already in progress, with an emphasis on peer editing, revision and shaping your narrative towards publication.
    • Memoir/Nonfiction (Linda Hasselstrom)
    • Fiction (Pamela Carter Joern)

9 to 10 am Poe Ballantine “Writing Life”

  • Stories from a working author and a life of writing (All levels)

10:15 to 11:15 am Paula Bosco Damon “Journaling, Blogging and Writing Environment”

  • Non-fiction/Fiction: This workshop will touch on the benefits of establishing a journaling routine, the ups and downs of blogging and the importance of writing environment.


(Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Atrium—Open to the Public)

  • Booksellers, Vendors, Displays all afternoon

1 to 2:20 pm Open Mic

  • Readings from Session Participants

2:30 to 3:20 pm Writing Round Table

  • Discussion with Workshop Faculty

3:30 to 4:30 pm Special Reading—Kwame Dawes and Marianne Kunkel

  • Kwame Dawes and Marianne Kunkel will read from their work and from recent issues of Prairie Schooner, followed by a Q&A.

4:30 pm Book Signing

  • Workshop Faculty will be available to sign books.

Faculty and Workshop Descriptions

ageeSpecial Guest:  Jonis AgeeJonis Agee was born in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Nebraska and Missouri, places where many of her stories and novels are set. She was educated at The University of Iowa (BA) and The State University of New York at Binghamton (MA, PhD). She is Adele Hall Professor of English at The University of Nebraska — Lincoln, where she teaches creative writing and twentieth-century fiction. She is the author of twelve books, including five novels — Sweet Eyes, Strange Angels, South of Resurrection, The Weight of Dreams, and her most recent, The River Wife — and five collections of short fiction — Pretend We’ve Never Met, Bend This Heart, A .38 Special and a Broken Heart, Taking the Wall, and Acts of Love on Indigo Road. She has also published two books of poetry: Houses and Mercury.In her newest novel, The River Wife (Random House, 2007), five generations of women experience love and heartbreak, passion and deceit against the backdrop of the nineteenth-century South. The book has been selected by the Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild, and as a main selection by the Quality Paperback Book Club.

Jonis Agee’s awards include ForeWord Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award for Taking the Wall and the Gold Medal in Fiction for Acts of Love on Indigo Road; a National Endowment for the Arts grant in fiction; a Loft-McKnight Award; a Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction; and two Nebraska Book Awards (for The Weight of Dreams and Acts of Love on Indigo Road. Three of her books — Strange Angels, Bend This Heart, and Sweet Eyes — were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times.

Jonis owns twenty pairs of cowboy boots, some of them works of art, loves the open road, and believes that ecstasy and hard work are the basic ingredients of life and writing.

(Author’s Website:

Keynote Address:  “To Awaken the Sleepers”

Afternoon Stand Alone Sessions:

 “A Sense of Where You Are”  (Non-fiction/Fiction: writing about place)

 “The First Five Pages”  (Non-fiction/Fiction: how to open your story with a lasting impression)


hasselstromLinda M. HasselstromLinda M. Hasselstrom is the full-time resident writer at Windbreak House Writing retreats, established in 1996 on her ranch. Her latest nonfiction book, No Place Like Home: Notes from a Western Life, won the 2010 WILLA in creative nonfiction from Women Writing the West. Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet, poetry with Nebraskan Twyla Hansen (The Backwaters Press)  received the Nebraska Book Award for Poetry 2012. The book was also a finalist for best poetry book, High Plains Book Awards, Billings, MT, and finalist, WILLA award for poetry, Women Writing the West, both in 2012. She was recognized for Distinguished Service to the Humanities by the South Dakota Humanities Council in 2011 and is special consultant to the Rural Literature RALLY initiative, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY. Her writing has appeared in dozens of anthologies and magazines. A poetry collection, Bitter Creek Junction, won the Wrangler for Best Poetry from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK. Bison: Monarch of the Plains, was named best environmental and nature book of 1999 by the Independent Publishers Association. Formerly visiting faculty for Iowa State University, Ames and online mentor for the University of Minnesota’s Split Rock writing program, Linda is an advisor to Texas Tech University Press.(Author’s Website:

Intermediate Workshop: Memoir & Non fiction

Clean as Bone, Pure as Water: Revising Your Writing

Students will submit up to 20 pages of nonfiction writing by May 10. I will write line-by-line-comments in the text of each submission. Class time will focus on evaluating and revising essays for potential publication with emphasis on language, sentence structure, editing, beginnings and endings and abundant individualized handouts. Please bring to class one copy of your submission for each student. Please attend the opening ceremonies to receive additional information. (Full submission instructions will be provided to participants of this workshop after they register)

The written word is to be clean as bone / pure as water, hard as stone.

Two words are not as good as one.

–Old Elizabethan rhyme


joernPamela Carter JoernPamela Carter Joern is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, playwright, and a teacher of writing. The
Plain Sense of Things
, (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) was a Midwest Booksellers Association Connections
Pick. The Floor of the Sky (University of Nebraska
Press, 2006), was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, winner of an Alex Award and the Nebraska Book Award.Pam won the 2001 and 2008 Tamarack Awards for the short story, sponsored by Minnesota Monthly Magazine. Her work has appeared in the Red Rock Review, South Dakota Review, Water~Stone, Laurel Review, Feminist Studies, Great River Review, Minnesota Monthly Magazine and an anthology,
Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace ( Backwaters Press). She has received a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship and a Career Initiative grant from the Jerome Foundation.

Pam has written six plays that have been produced in the Twin Cities area. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University and teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

(Author’s Website:


Intermediate Workshop: Fiction

You will have the opportunity to respond respectfully to others’ work and to receive feedback on your own. We’ll focus on what works well and what questions are generated for further development. We’ll venture into elements of craft as they arise, i.e. using sensory detail, capitalizing on point-of-view, developing character, writing successful dialogue, creating tension, mining your setting. There will be handouts for your future reference, and in addition to the workshop comments, I will provide written feedback. Please submit up to 20 pages, double-spaced, by May 10, either a short story or excerpt from a short story or novel. If from a novel or longer story, please include a one paragraph synopsis. Ideally, participants will receive copies of submissions in advance of the workshop so we can be adequately prepared. You’ll receive further instructions once you’ve registered. Please also bring to the workshop a printed copy of your submission for each participant. (Full submission instructions will be provided to participants of this workshop after they register)


dawesKwame DawesGhanaian-born Jamaican poet, Kwame Dawes is the award-winning author of sixteen books of poetry (most recently, Wheels, 2011) and numerous books of fiction, non-fiction, criticism and drama. He is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska.   Kwame Dawes also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing program.  Dawes’ book, Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems will be published by Copper Canyon in 2013.

(Author’s Website:

“Chameleons of Suffering” Poetry Workshop

Beginning with a half-hour exploration of empathy through a short lecture, Kwame will then lead a hands-on workshop for poets through a series of exercises and discussion.

Reading & Book Signing (with Marianne Kunkel)

Kwame Dawes and Marianne Kunkel will read from their work and from recent issues of Prairie Schooner, followed by a Q&A.


 kunkleMarianne KunkelMarianne Kunkel is the Managing Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Ph.D. student in poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a specialization in women’s and gender studies. Her poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, River Styx, and elsewhere, and her chapbook is The Laughing Game (Finishing Line Press).Publishing in Journals: An Insider’s View

Seminar—strategies of publishing poetry and prose in contemporary literary journals, and her talk will be followed by a  Q&A on the subject.

Reading & Book Signing (with Kwame Dawes)

Kwame Dawes and Marianne Kunkel will read from their work and from recent issues of Prairie Schooner, followed by a Q&A.

Founded in 1927, Prairie Schooner is a national literary quarterly published with the support of the UNL English Department. It publishes fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews by beginning, mid-career and established writers. For more information, visit


mcewenR.F. McEwenR.F. McEwen has been a tree trimmer since 1963 and English teacher since 1972. He is currently a professor of English at Chadron State College, in Chadron, Nebraska, where he has taught since 1986. His poems have appeared in the South Dakota Review,  Kansas Quarterly, Melville Extracts, Prairie Schooner, Rural Voices, Midwest Quarterly, The Literary Journal of the Seamus Heaney Center for Poetry, Belfast, and other journals. His Heartwood and other Poems was featured on CBS “Sunday Morning.”  He co-produced “Tell a Story: Joe Heaney in the Pacific Northwest” (Camsco), a two-CD collection of the stories of Joe Heaney, the noted Irish sean nos singer and storyteller. His forthcoming Bill’s Boy’s and other Poems is being published by Black Star Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. And his poem “Stacking Rick Wood: Getting On” is the poem for November in the current (2012) Nebraska Poets Calendar.  His poems are written for the most part in blank verse and are more often than not narrative.(Author Info:

Beginning Poetry (all levels)

This workshop will be devoted to writing narrative poetry, poetry that tells a story, rather than confessional, emotive poetry that explores one’s own feelings. Narrative poems explore the feelings of fictional characters involved in fictional plots that carry the weight of universal themes. We will do quite a bit of writing, some reading and, I hope, discussion of the persistent problems involved whenever one attempts to tell a story that will change, mystify, and provoke an audience of strong readers and listeners.


ballantinePoe BallantinePoe Ballantine’s work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, regularly in The Sun Magazine, Kenyon Review, and The Coal City Review. His second novel, Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, won Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. The odd jobs, eccentric characters, boarding houses, buses, and beer that populate Ballantine’s work often draw comparisons to the life and work of Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac. In addition to garnering numerous award nominations including The Pushcart Prize and The Pen/O. Henry Prize, Ballantine’s work has been included in the 1998 Best American Short Story and 2006 Best American Essay anthologies. His memoir, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, is being published by Hawthorne Press this September (and is now available for preorder).(Author Info:

Beginning Fiction (with Matthew Evertson, All Levels)

This workshop will offer a blend of “theory” and “practice” in the fundamentals of writing fiction. The “theory” will be introduced through Matthew Evertson as he shares the “nuts and bolts” lessons he has gleaned over the years from both taking and teaching fiction writing classes. Poe Ballantine will then share his insights from years of honing his craft as a working writer, publishing his stories and novels to critical acclaim.

Writing Life (All Levels)

My workshops are inspired by my years of itinerancy,  “Mining the Lost Years,” “The Life of a Drifter,” “The Importance of Being an Outsider,” and so on.  I’m frequently lumped in with the Beat Movement, though I don’t share much with them (except the traveling). My non-fiction work is almost entirely emotion-based, and I will share my insights about process, the importance of the small press (breaking in), reader psychology, and any other questions, problems, and concerns the budding writer might have.


evertsonMatthew EvertsonMatthew Quinn Evertson is Professor and Chair of the Department of English and Humanities at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska, where he teaches American Literature, Native American Literature, Western American Literature and Writing. He is currently working on a book-length comparative study of Stephen Crane and Theodore Roosevelt and is also currently teaching, researching and writing about the regional influences upon the literature of the Great Plains.  More recently he has focused on expanding creative writing opportunities at Chadron State College, complementing his scholarly work with his long interest in writing fiction (he has studied fiction writing at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and has completed several writing workshops). His publications include “Fields of Vision: Human Presence in the Plain Landscapes of Terrence Malick and Wright Morris” in Terrence Malick Film and Philosophy (New York: Continuum, May 2011) “Cather in the Rye: ‘Paul’s Case’ in Anticipation of Holden Caulfield” in Critical Insights: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (New York: EBSCO/Salem Press, 2011), “Strenuous Stories: The Wilderness Tales of Stephen Crane and Theodore Roosevelt” which appears in Stephen Crane Studies (2005); and “Love, Loss and Growing Up in J.D. Salinger and Cormac McCarthy” which appears in The Catcher in the Rye: New Essays (Peter Lang, 2002).Beginning Fiction (with Poe Ballantine, All Levels)

This workshop will offer a blend of “theory” and “practice” in the fundamentals of writing fiction. The “theory” will be introduced through Matthew Evertson as he shares the “nuts and bolts” lessons he has gleaned over the years from both taking and teaching fiction writing classes. Poe Ballantine will then share his insights from years of honing his craft as a working writer, publishing his stories and novels to critical acclaim.


kinneyRich KenneyRich Kenney is a former Little League centerfielder from Boston, Massachusetts. As a social worker, radio talk show host and newspaper columnist, he has worked with people like Big Ray, the cigar-smoking, twenty-year-old special needs student with a heart bigger than his 48-inch waistline; and Edgar, the elderly slide trombonist dying of cancer with a scheme to retrieve his horn from a hock shop. Kenney writes about hawks herding clouds or old ticket stubs caught in cobwebs. He writes about tiny canes the color of clouds hanging on a wall outside a preschool classroom for kids who are blind.

The recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Kenney has also contributed commentaries to National Public Radio. Recent publications include nonfiction prose in The New Social Worker and Social Work Today; and poetry in Rockhurst Review and Third Wednesday.

Kenney holds degrees from the University of Texas (MSSW), and the University of Arizona (BA). He is currently an assistant professor and Director of the Social Work Program at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

Beginning Creative Nonfiction (all levels)

Creative Nonfiction is the place for all writers to come clean. But don’t sweat the interrogation lights… In this workshop, we will use other techniques like language, setting and detail to help you tell your story.  You’ll fish for the moon with kites (metaphor), write “Dear Johns” to snappers (clarity), or mix sweet literary martinis (form) to uncover insights and truths. With focus on the word, creative, in creative nonfiction, you will tap into memories and life-changing moments to awaken the stories inside waiting to be told.


 damonPaula Bosco Damon Paula Bosco Damon is an award-winning author, whose short non-fiction has won countless honors, including first place in national and state writing competitions.Damon has taught writing courses at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion; Briar Cliff University, Western Iowa Tech Community College and St. Luke’s College, all in Sioux City, Iowa. Additionally, she has led numerous writing workshops in South Dakota. In 2011, Damon conducted a writing workshop at the National Federation of Press Women’s annual convention.

A popular keynote speaker, the writer has conducted readings in New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska, including Chadron State College and Chadron Public Library, among others.

Currently, Damon is the director of marketing and communication at Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, where she is on the editorial staff for the University’s award-winning literary and art publication, The Briar Cliff Review and a guest lecturer in the University’s writing classes.

A regular contributor to the Vermillion [S.D.] Plain Talk and the Carroll [Iowa] Times Daily Herald, the author submits a creative non-fiction piece to both papers weekly.  She holds a master’s degree in English and bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of South Dakota. For samples of Damon’s work, please visit her story archive at Her chapbook, Look. Don’t Look. [Briar Cliff University Press], is available upon request.

Get Down to Writing (all levels)

This hands-on workshop will demystify the perennial question of what to write about and demonstrate how to crack the code for writer’s block.

Journaling, Blogging and Writing Environment (all levels)

This workshop will touch on the benefits of establishing a journaling routine, the ups and downs of blogging and the importance of writing environment.


Registration & Costs

Workshop Sessions are open to all aspiring writers of all ages and abilities.

(We recommend that High School Participants be at the Junior level or above).

General Registration:  $150

  • All workshop participants must pay the general registration fee, which gains you access to all beginning workshops and special sessions over the four days.
  • There is no deadline for General Registration, and you do not need to sign up for any specific sessions in advance.
  • Students and Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Members Receive a 20% discount

Additional Fees:

Intermediate Workshop Tuition: $100

For writers who have work in progress and are interested in revising and refining their writing for publication with one-on-one feedback with your workshop leader. When registering, please select ONE of the following options :

  • Linda Hasselstrom (non-fiction prose/memoir)
  • Pamela Carter Joern (fiction)

Space is limited to 12 writers per workshop, so early registration is encouraged.


  • Late registration and on-site registration may be available for intermediate workshops—depending on enrollments. There will be a 20% surcharge on any late or on-site registrations for this workshop.
  • In order to fulfill our workshop commitments to faculty and other participants, we cannot cancel your reservation or offer refunds after May 10.
  • You need to pay both your general registration and your intermediate workshop fees ($250 total) when you register.


A limited number of scholarships are available for student applicants based upon written samples of their work. Please follow the instructions in the application at the end of this document.


In order to provide the utmost value and flexibility for our workshop participants, housing costs have NOT been added to your workshop registration fee. Instead, participants will have the following options for securing their own accommodations while in the region:

  • A limited number of dormitory-style rooms will be available for rent at Chadron State College during the Workshop and Festival. Costs are approximately $13 per person, per night, double occupancy, and $17.50 per person, per night, for a private room.
  • A list of hotels in the region will be provided. Several of these will be partnering with us to provide a discount rate to our conference participants.
  • Chadron State Park (approximately 9 miles south of CSC) and Fort Robinson State Park (approximately 25 miles to the south of CSC) have cabins, camping facilities and other forms of lodging as well.


Workshop participants often find that they need a relaxing break between sessions. Some may want to gather socially with other workshop members over a leisurely lunch, while others may want to grab a quick bite and work on their writing in solitude. In order to provide the most value and flexibility for your workshop experience, meals have NOT been added to your workshop registration fee.

  • As part of your registration fee, snacks and refreshments WILL be provided for the Opening Ceremonies and Reception on Wednesday afternoon.
  • As part of your registration fee, continental Breakfast with coffee and tea service (and other light refreshments) WILL be available each morning before the workshop sessions in the Sandoz Center Atrium. Coffee and Tea service will also be provided throughout the day for breaks during the workshop sessions.
  • Tickets for the NOON banquet at the Saturday Festival will be $12
  • Noontime lunches and evening dining will be on your own. A list of dining options will be provided, with several restaurants in the region providing special rates or discounts for workshop participants.


The workshop sessions will take place on the campus of Chadron State College, which lies within the southern boundary of the city of Chadron, Nebraska, with a population of approximately 6,000 residents.  Chadron State College is located about 290 miles north of Denver, Colo., and 100 miles south of Rapid City, S.D. U.S.  Highways 20 and 385 intersect in Chadron. For driving directions and regional and campus maps, please visit this website: The city of Chadron has a municipal airport with daily flights to Denver International Airport.

In addition to our workshop sessions on campus, other events will take place in the rugged beauty of the surrounding region. The scenic Pine Ridge of northwestern Nebraska has long been recognized as the most beautiful portion of the state.  The prairie and hills around Chadron are rich in pioneer history, and the town was founded in 1885.  Fort Robinson, twenty-eight miles away, was once a colorful frontier military post and provides a variety of activities amid its historic buildings, including the Post Playhouse, sponsored each summer by the college’s theatre department. Chadron State Park, the Pine Ridge, the Museum of the Fur Trade, the Sandhills of

Nebraska, the Hudson-Meng Bison Site, the Agate Fossil Beds, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Hot Springs Mammoth Site provide opportunities for exciting day trips, including sight-seeing, fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking and skiing. In 2000, Sports Afield designated Chadron as one of the “top 50 outdoor sports towns” in the nation and one of the four best

mountain biking towns in the United States.  Outside Magazine has selected Dawes County, where Chadron is located, as one of the nation’s top 100 counties in which to live.    The climate in the Pine Ridge Region during late May/Early June is typically pleasant, with clear skies and moderate temperatures—with highs in the low eighties and lows in the upper forties.

The Chadron State College residential campus, occupying two hundred eighty-one acres, is bound on the south by the tall, pine-clad buttes of the Pine Ridge.  Twenty-four major buildings with more than one million square feet of floor space provide state-of the art facilities for residential students. A highlight in the last decade was the  development of the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, which pays tribute to the western Nebraska native who became one of America’s leading authors—and which will be our “headquarters” for the Workshop and Festival this year.  The center focuses on the settlement and development of the High Plains region, including the history of the cattle industry in the C.F. Coffee Gallery.  The center houses an archive of important historical documents and artifacts, as well as a state-of-the-art digitizing laboratory, the Kosman electronically mediated classroom, a gallery of rotating artistic and historical exhibits, permanent exhibits on Sandoz and the high plains environment, and the outdoor Heritage Gardens that feature Sandhills and pioneer plantings.

About the Workshop

The Story Catcher Writing Workshop and Festival takes its inspiration from one of Nebraska’s most prominent writers, Mari Sandoz (1896-1966), who grew up in the region on the homesteads her family settled in the late 1800s. In addition to building an impressive career as an author, Sandoz went to great lengths to encourage other writers, conducting summer writing workshops on college campuses, reviewing manuscripts sent to her by aspiring authors from all over the nation, and teaching creative writing through programming produced by Nebraska Public Television. A prolific writer and dogged researcher, her works crossed the boundaries of history, fiction, biography, memoir, journalism, ethnography, ecology, activism and advocacy for marginalized groups, such as Native Americans. It is fitting, therefore, that this passionate teacher of writing who captured so many stories from this region should be the inspiration for our workshop.

The workshop and festival itself takes its name from The Story Catcher, Sandoz’s last published novel, and winner of the Levi Strauss Golden Saddleman Award in 1963 and the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best juvenile fiction in 1964. Set in the same high plains region of our workshop, the novella follows the trials and tribulations of a young Oglala Sioux searching for his place within a mid-nineteenth century tribal society facing white encroachment and continued conflict with neighboring tribes. Turning his back on the glory he might gain as a warrior, he instead wins honor and a new name: “Story Catcher,” recorder of the history of his people.

It is our goal to channel this spirit of Sandoz and The Story Catcher—to guide and encourage the participants of our workshop in capturing their own creative ideas, to help transform those ideas into written works that can then be shared, discussed and revised, and to celebrate the best qualities of writing from this workshop—and this region—in a festival that may inspire the story catcher in all of us.

In response to requests from our previous workshop participants, this year we are offering a greater mix of workshops that focus on getting started/generating writing, workshops that focus on revising work in progress towards publication, and general sessions on writing, creativity and getting published.


 Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Society

The vision of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society is to perpetuate and foster an understanding of the literary and historical works of Mari Sandoz, and to honor the land and the people about which she wrote: Native Americans, ranchers, farmers and the people who settled the High Plains country. The Society hosts a conference and presents the Pilster Great Plains Lecture

Series. Additionally, the society provides collections on loan to the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at Chadron State College. Contributions to the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society are tax-deductible. To join the Society, or for more information, e-mail or visit our website: www.marisandoz

Chadron State College Department of English and Humanities

Chadron offers a wonderful setting for the study of English literature and the humanities, with abundant beauty, natural resources, and open spaces to help open our minds. Many of our English major course offerings, such as Great Plains Literature, Literature Across Borders, and Environmental Literature have been developed with an eye towards the natural spaces of the High Plains where we live, teach, and learn. Our unique partnership with the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center offers further opportunities to read and write within a regional and environmental context. In other words, English majors at CSC benefit from an unfettered exposure to the great outdoors; here, you can literally get outside yourself. For more information, please visit our website:


Please visit our website for updates and the most current information, as well procedures for registering for the workshop or attending the festival

Story Catcher Summer Writing Workshop and Festival Staff:

Dr. Matthew Evertson, Director

Chadron State College

Department of English & Humanities (ADM 206)

1000 Main Street

Chadron, NE. 69337
(308) 432-6462

Cindy Evert Christ, Communication Coordinator

Mari Sandoz Heritage Society

(402) 304-8103 or

Planning Committee:

Matthew Evertson, Professor,

Chadron State College Department of English and Humanities

Katherine Bahr, Professor,

Chadron State College Department of English and Humanities

Elisabeth Ellington, Assistant Professor,

Chadron State College Department of English and Humanities

Sarah Polak, Director,

Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

Story Catcher Scholarship Application

The Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Society and the department of English and Humanities at Chadron State College are pleased to announce that a limited number of full and partial tuition waivers will be offered to support talented STUDENT writers this year.

Depending on the number of applicants and the merit of the writing samples that are submitted, a variety of waivers will be awarded (full or partial remission of the general registration fees and full or partial remission of tuition for the intermediate workshops)

Each scholarship recipient is responsible for her or his transportation and/or lodging costs. Visit our web site for further information about the workshop:




Name  ___________________________________________________   E-mail ______________________________________

Address  ___________________________________________  Daytime Telephone  _(_____)____________________

City ________________________________________________   State  _______                  Zip Code___________ __




If you are interested in registering for one of the intermediate workshops, please indicate which workshop you would like to attend:

  • Linda Hasselstrom (non-fiction prose/memoir)
  • Pamela Carter Joern (fiction)



(evidence of plagiarism will result in rejection of the application or cancellation of the award)


  1. The deadline for application is MAY 1,  2012 (postmark).
  2. Submit no more than 10 pages of prose or poetry. Manuscripts and supporting materials will not be returned.
  3. The conference planning committee will review the applications and contact recipients at least two weeks prior to the workshop.

Send application materials to:

Story Catcher Writing Workshop Scholarship Committee

Dr. Matthew Evertson, Director

Chadron State College

Department of English & Humanities

1000 Main Street

Chadron, NE. 69337
(308) 432-6462

OR EMAIL the above information and wri

“The Outsider”

As a potential English Major, I’m sure you like a good short story. I’d like to tell you about English and Humanities at Chadron State College, but in this story, you are the protagonist.

The Outsider

First, you arrive. From the south you speed past miles of flatlands until you cross the “table” and descend into a beautiful landscape of pine-studded ridges surrounding Chadron State Park. Or maybe you come from the East, following the northern contours of the great Sandhills, the largest formation of grass-covered dunes in the Western hemisphere, crossing the Niobrara National Scenic River on Highway 20 near Valentine, or, if you are more adventurous, you cut across the heart of the Sandhills on Highway 2, a starkly-beautiful drive through one of the most unique landscapes in the country. From the West, perhaps, you descend from the ragged buttes of Fort Robinson State Park, or the pristine and vast backcountry of the Soldier Creek Wilderness. Or, more likely, you head down from Rapid City, the second largest city in South Dakota and the gateway to the gorgeous Black Hills, with its mix of sublime natural beauty and popular tourist destinations such as Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Wind Cave National Park, Angostura reservoir—all within a two-hour drive of your destination: Chadron State College.

Regardless from which direction you come, eventually you find yourself in this quiet college town. The pace? Slow. The space? Open. You are shocked by how small and isolated the town is. And yet looks can be deceiving. The campus itself is pretty, with a nice backdrop of grass-covered hills just beyond the athletic fields to the south. You notice that the buildings on the western edge are stately and historic brick affairs—all newly-renovated inside. Your smart phone picks up the wireless signal just fine, and you text your anxious parents that you have arrived safely on campus. You walk the wide green spaces between these classic structures: Memorial Hall, home to performing and visual arts; the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, named after the famous Western Nebraska writer and historian, housing materials related to her career and the study of the region; Edna Work Hall, the newest and nicest dorm suites on campus, and, of course, “Old Administration,” fresh from its million dollar renovation. One of the oldest buildings at CSC, here you will be spending much of your time taking classes in writing, literature, education, communication, history and the social sciences. You are impressed to see so much has been invested in the humanities at Chadron State, rather than just in the business or science programs, as you have noticed on other campuses.

You take a long walk past the gorgeous sunlit atrium of the Sandoz Center and encounter a paved trail into the hills behind campus. You soon pass through a leafy canopy of cottonwoods, elms and lindens lining a watershed, cool and damp with little “Briggs Pond” gurgling beyond the tangled trees. You emerge from the shade and trek further up the trail to get a view of campus from above—the town laid out below you and the prairie beyond stretching all the way towards South Dakota. Against this picturesque high plains backdrop you settle in with the most recent Cormac McCarthy book, or your laptop open to the latest chapter of that novel you have been working on, or a final stanza for a poem you are trying to get just right. It’s a beautiful August day—a little hot, but with a pleasant breeze up here in the hills—and you suddenly feel at peace. It brings to mind the slogan you had seen on an English and Humanities brochure: “Get Outside Yourself.” You had regretted at first not choosing a school in a busy city or a crowded suburb, but you couldn’t really afford those anyway, and now you feel confident, certain this quaint village is yours to conquer.

And then you start to attend your classes. On Monday you discover that you Humanities professor has recently published a book on the films of Terrence Malick (director of one of your favorite classics, Badlands). Your writing teacher has just returned from a major poetry reading on the eastern end of the state. In Tuesday’s Elements of Literature class your professor discusses an article comparing the writings of J.D. Salinger and Willa Cather, which you will be reading that semester. (Only later do you find out that he is the author). Later that day another professor shares a funny story about a scholarly panel on Victorian Literature that he chaired at a major conference in Hawaii the previous year. The classrooms are small—sometimes you sit in a circle around a single “seminar” table. Your teachers know your name and recognize you. One of them says hello to you in the hallway of Old Administration as you sit waiting for class, chatting with some students who have been in the program a while. One is excited about his upcoming teaching-internship at a local High School in the Spring—eager to complete his “methods” course with a professor who spent a number of years teaching High School herself. Another introduces herself to you and asks if you are going to the “open mic” at the Bean Broker coffee house that Friday—the first one of the year (when you later attend you are amazed at the packed space, filled with over fifty people all gathered to hear poetry, music and spoken word performances). You learn that Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honorary and Student Club on campus, sponsors these wild events. Another student rushes down the hallway, waving the latest copy of 10th Street Miscellany, the campus literary journal. She’s thrilled to see her story has been published. Sitting across from you is a student lamenting the fact that he has to attend a production of a controversial play that the theater department is staging in “M. Hall.” It just so happens to be the same play you have been assigned in your Elements of Literature class (he later admits that actually “seeing the words performed” gave him a whole new appreciation for the material they had covered in class). You overhear a conversation between two students leaving their “Literature and Gender” class; one had just returned from a year-long study abroad in Italy, and the other was getting ready to spend a year teaching English in Poland. They talk about a former student who just posted a Facebook update about her new apartment not far from the campus of San Diego State, where she got accepted into the MFA program. This “quaint village” of college and community suddenly seems intimidating in its achievements and expectations. You wonder if you can compete.

You stick with it. The courses are challenging. All of your professors have Ph.D.s with diverse specializations from major universities across the country, and they are keeping current and active in their fields of expertise, publishing in major journals, presenting at important conferences, and trying to bring those experiences into their classrooms. Above all, they love to teach, and they push you to your limits. You have more books piled on your desk in your dorm room than you think is even possible to read, and every day you are composing posts for discussion boards, writing analysis and research papers in your literature classes and sweating over difficult essay exams. But you keep moving forward, semester after semester. You make the Dean’s list several times, and in the Spring of your Junior year you land on the “President’s List” with perfect grades. You even make it through Shakespeare, somehow. You’ve decided to do a senior thesis, thinking that maybe graduate school is in the cards—or you have taken the plunge into English Education and are getting ready to go try your hand at student teaching. Along the way you have made great friends (everybody knows each other here). You frequently go camping with one of the leaders of the Outdoor Adventure Club—he’s also an English major and knows all the great local spots to hike, bike or do maneuvers (he’s also in ROTC). Last spring you both read some passages from Henry David Thoreau at the annual “Spring Read,” a day of hiking in the local wilderness followed by some readings and a cookout, all sponsored by the English Department. He tells you about writing a story for his “Literature of the Great Plains” class and then having the professor ask him and two other students in that class to present their work in a student panel at the Sandoz Conference on campus that following Spring. He wistfully recounts being invited to the conference banquet in that big sunlit atrium and sitting at the table with his profs, drinking wine and eating fancy food and talking big ideas. He met several conference attendees who patted him on the back and encouraged him to keep writing.

It reminds you of your Junior year when you finally joined Sigma Tau Delta, and several of the members traveled with a faculty advisor to the Nebraska Book Festival on the eastern end of the state in downtown Lincoln. You listened to a keynote presentation from some famous author in the Capital Rotunda, and then had a wild time on the town before your own panel presentation on “Nebraska’s Literary Landscape” the next day. The Department paid for the hotel rooms and all your meals, and the long ride there in a CSC van was in some ways the highlight of your trip, swapping lots of great stories with your professors and fellow students. Of course, being in Sigma Tau Delta had also involved a lot of work and responsibility, such as helping to organize the open mic events and the Halloween “Scream Slam,” and the February “Love Slam.” Busy as it has been, you realize how much it has helped to bring you out of your shell.

Now a college senior, you have come to appreciate the social life of this otherwise sedate college town. You’ve taken as an elective a class in film theory, and you look forward to Thursday nights when your Humanities professor screens these wild, eclectic—often foreign—films at the local coffee house. You started reading a few pieces at the open mic events, getting more and more into the “performance” aspect of your poetry. One of these pieces developed out of a inspirational reading assignment you had in a class on Chinese Philosophy, of all things. One of your roommates, also an English major, plays guitar in a local band, along with a drummer—a graduate from the English program—and they have staged some wild concerts at various local venues. A time or two they have called you up on stage to riff on one of your performance pieces; you are starting to get a reputation as quite the local rapper. You’ve even agreed to help lead a session in performance poetry in the upcoming Summer Writers Workshop that the department has been organizing with the Sandoz Society.

Your latest poem didn’t make the cut for the recent 10th Street, but you are asked to read one of your research papers at a public colloquium that the department is hosting in the Sandoz Atrium at the beginning of the new Fall term. After the presentation you are introduced to a former Lit. Major who has gone on to get his M.A. at the University of South Dakota, and is working on his Ph.D. at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He tells you how fondly he remembers his time at CSC, how much he learned and what great friends he made. He still keeps in touch with his professors, he says, explaining that they were the ones who urged him to come check out the colloquium and revisit his old stomping grounds. He asks you about your course of study, and is amazed to learn all the new classes being offered in the program. How he wishes he could have had a chance to take some of the courses you tell him about, on such diverse subjects as Great Plains and Borderlands literature, the Environment, Philosophy, Gender , Race and Class, Contemporary Writers, even the Bible. You exchange emails, and he promises to put in a good word at USD if you decide to go to apply there.

After the colloquium, you find yourself outside the atrium, retracing your steps down the paved trail you encountered on the first day on campus, past the dark pond humming with insects, up into the hills behind campus. You sit on that same bench and look down at the twinkling buildings.  At the end of this year—your final year in the program—you will be walking across the commencement stage. What does the future hold for you? You will have one of the great multi-purpose, liberal arts degrees out there. You’ve had ground-breaking experiences at CSC—worked hard and suffered at times, it is true, trying to keep your grades up and meet the expectations of the department—but now you feel prepared for anything. Best of all, you’ve had good scholarships and financial aid, and the costs of attending CSC have been considerably less than what you have heard from many of your frustrated friends attending larger institutions.

The breeze stirs around you up in those heights above campus, and you are swept back to the “spring read” two years earlier and the last lines from Thoreau’s Walden that you had read: “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” For the first time you feel like you understand what it truly means to get outside yourself, having found those passions and insights that only you could awaken. This sleepy college town, you have to admit, has given you room to grow, and with the knowledge and skills you have developed in your hard work in English and Humanities, you are ready to fully embrace whatever rises over that horizon.


Could this be you?  Every one of the scenarios outlined in the story above is based upon actual events and experiences that I have witnessed in over a decade of teaching at Chadron State College. We do offer a very unique, challenging, yet accessible, course of study that will position you to achieve great things: teaching in Middle or High School, going to graduate school, becoming a writer (or getting involved in a career with an emphasis on reading and writing) or one of the many occupations in the private and public sector that seek out well-versed, competent, worldly people who have a great liberal-arts background.

But education researchers all agree, one of the most important factors in your success at college is how engaged you become in your educational environment by immersing yourself in the intellectual and social opportunities available to you. As “The Outsider” dramatizes, and I have seen repeatedly in my time here, our students become very involved in their academic careers at every level: academic, social, civic. Our graduates are well-rounded and prepared to face the world of tomorrow.

For materials that will outline more specifically the details of our program, and why you should consider a degree in English and Humanities, please visit our website at  or on Facebook, and at Twitter:@outsideyourself.

If you have any questions about what we can offer you at Chadron State, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We hope to see you writing your own unique story with us this Fall!

Dr. Matthew Evertson

Chair, Department of English and Humanities