R209. The I or the Eye: The Narrator's Role in Nonfiction

Room 613/614, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Thursday, February 27, 2014
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Be it a personal or lyric essay, memoir, a  work of journalism, or criticism, writers of literary nonfiction must decide how to craft their narrators to best suit the subject at hand. Why are some narrators situated center-stage as participants (the I) while others locate themselves more offstage as observers (the Eye)? This panel of writers, teachers, and editors will offer rationales for a range of approaches and suggest strategies to determine how best to present their narrators on the page.



Michael Steinberg is founding editor of Fourth Genre. Still Pitching won the ForeWord Magazine/Independent Press Memoir of the Year. The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction (with Bob Root) is in a 6th edition. He's nonfiction writer in residence in the Solstice MFA program.

Phillip Lopate has written over twenty books, most recently, the essay collections Portrait Inside My Head and To Show and to Tell: the Craft of Literary Nonfiction. Editor of the anthology Art of the Personal Essay, he directs the MFA nonfiction program at Columbia University.

Elyssa East is the author of Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town, winner of the 2010 PEN New England/LL Winship award in Nonfiction. Her fiction has appeared in Cape Cod Noir and Best of the Akashic Noir. She teaches at Rhode Island School of Design and is working on a novel.

Robert Root teaches nonfiction in the Ashland University MFA Program in Creative Writing. His recent books include the memoir Happenstance, the essay collection Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place, and the craft book The Nonfictionist’s Guide: On Reading and Writing Creative Nonfiction.

Lia Purpura is the author of seven collections of essays, poems, and translations, most recently Rough LIkeness (essays) and King Baby (poems). Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Book Critics Circle Award. She is Writer in Residence at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Washington State Convention Center