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Cultural Events

Sandy Hook Writer Will Kick Off Mark Twain Virtual Event



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HARTFORD — Local author Sophfronia Scott will deliver a keynote speech to begin the Mark Twain House & Museum’s Virtual Writers Weekend, being held July 10-12. Her Friday evening address is entitled “Why Are You Writing?”

“I’m going to talk about something that’s on a lot of writers minds right now,” said Scott. “In difficult times such as we’re experiencing now it can seem like toiling at the blank page is the most irrelevant thing to be doing. But, as Toni Morrison noted, this is exactly when artists need to get to work.”

Billed as “Aimed at writers of all ilks and experience,” the Writers Weekend offers keynote addresses and breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics with a variety of skilled and talented presenters including The Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, The Onion founding editor Scott Dikkers; Soraya Nadia McDonald, a 2020 Pulitzer Prize finalist for criticism; novelists Amy Bloom and Amity Gaige; and many more. The event was originally scheduled as an in-person conference, but is now being offered virtually via video conferences in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aimed at writers working in all genres and at all levels of experience, the Writers Weekend offers four keynote addresses, panel discussions, and breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics presented by more than two dozen skilled and talented writers.

Jennifer LaRue, the museum’s director of public programs, said that while the historic property recently reopened for public tours, “under very controlled circumstances,” it is not yet the time to hold large gatherings like a conference.

“We recognize, though, that people have been scribbling and working on their writing a lot during these past few months, and we are happy to provide a forum for them,” LaRue noted.

Registration is $75, about half of the registration of last year’s in-person event. Details, including the weekend’s schedule and those planning to present, can be found at marktwainhouse.org/virtualwritersweekend.

The weekend is supported by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is the restored Hartford, Connecticut, home where American author Samuel Clemens — Mark Twain — and his family lived from 1874 to 1891. Twain wrote his most important works, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, during the years he lived there.

In addition to hosting tours, the National Historic Landmark offers activities and education programs that illuminate Twain’s literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

Scott was awarded a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Her current writing project, a nonfiction book entitled The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton, about the famous Trappist monk and author of The Seven Storey Mountain, will be published in March 2021 by Broadleaf Books.

Sophfronia Scott, second from the top at left, will offer the keynote address Friday, July 10, to open The Mark Twain House & Museum Writers Weekend. Events continue through July 12 and will include a longtime writer for The Simpsons, the founding editor of The Onion, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and a playwright and Love Boat star among the presenters.
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