R126. What Was Is: The Use of Present Tense in Creative Nonfiction

Room 202, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 2
Thursday, February 27, 2014
9:00 am to 10:15 am


This panel of memoirists and essayists will consider what happens when we write about past events in the present tense. When does present tense provide needed immediacy, and when does it limit an author’s ability to write to the true story? We will explore the benefits, challenges, and drawbacks of using present tense as we craft our lives on the page, and we will discuss how tense affects other craft issues, such as voice, reflection, and structure.


Kate Hopper is the author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. She teaches writing online and at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Sustainable Arts Grant.

Hope Edelman is the author of six nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her articles and essays have been published widely. She teaches at Antioch University-LA and in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival every July.

Bonnie J. Rough is the author of the 2011 Minnesota Book Award-winning memoir Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA. She teaches in the Ashland University low-residency MFA program in nonfiction, and she is a prose editor for Versal.

Marybeth Holleman is author of The Heart of the Sound, co-author of Among Wolves, and co-editor of Crosscurrents North. A Pushcart-prize nominee, her essays, poems, and articles have appeared in such venues as Orion, Christian Science Monitor, The Future of Nature, and on National Public Radio.

Ryan Van Meter's essay collection, If You Knew Then What I Know Now, was published in 2011. His work has also appeared in journals and anthologies, including Best American Essays. A recent finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, he teaches at the University of San Francisco.


March 27–30, 2019
Portland, OR

Oregon Convention Center