S254. The Other Side of the Story: The Trouble with Writing About Real People

C123, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Joan Didion claimed that “writers are always selling somebody out” even as they strive for honesty and self-scrutiny. As a writer crafts each sentence to best articulate their point of view, they inevitably face a conflict with the subjects of their stories, which may inhibit the process, spur retaliation, and threaten relationships. We will explore the personal, artistic, and legal implications of choosing to write about family, friends, lovers and public figures, and offer strategies for coping.


Sophia Shalmiyev is a Portland-based writer and a Portland State University MFA graduate. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, the Seattle Review of BooksPortland ReviewEntropy, and Vela. Shalmiyev's debut memoir, Mother Winter, is about emigration, motherlessness, and feminism.

Chris Kraus is the author of four novels, three books of art and cultural criticism, and most recently After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. She is a co-editor of Semiotexte alongside Hedi El Kholti and Sylvere Lotringer, and will hold the Mary Routt Chair of Writing at Scripps College in 2019.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart, and the essay collection, Abandon Me. She serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and is Associate Professor of Creative Nonfiction at Monmouth University and MFA faculty at the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based professor, curator, activist, and is author of the essay collection The Reckonings, the widely-acclaimed memoir The Other Side, and Trespasses: A Memoir. She teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University.

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, He is a Professor English and Creative Writing at University of Mississippi and is the author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. His memoir Heavy is forthcoming from Scribner in October 2018.


March 27–30, 2019
Portland, OR

Oregon Convention Center