Student Presenters Share & Learn at USF Writers’ Conference

USF’s Mary Kate Hynek and MaKenzie Munson were recently interviewed by sophomore Hannah Mitchell about their experiences as student presenters at the November 13 Writers’ Conference. The conference, hosted by the USF English Department, took place on Saturday, November 13. Poet Naoko Fujimoto gave the keynote address.

Q. What was it like creating your own graphic poem during the workshop with Naoko? 

MH: Creating a graphic poem with Naoko Fujimoto was an experience like no other; I’ve never worked with graphics and poetry in combination before (although I am a huge advocate for graphics and writing working together), so the process opened my eyes to new ways of thinking that I can incorporate into my creative writing process. Naoko’s energy and passion really inspired me to create, and she made me feel part of a creative community of writers. 

Q. What was your presentation about? 

MH: My presentation, titled “Dying Rose,” was a work of short fiction and an adaptation of a graphic novel scene set to appear in a future collaborative project. This piece is the result of seven years of collaboration and character development. The main character of this piece, a young man named Briar who struggles with an ancestral curse that causes irrational insanity, will be one of the main characters appearing in the graphic novel. My collaborative partner made an appearance during my presentation, and we emphasized the benefits of images and words coming together to create something amazing. My presentation won best overall performance at the SFWC. 

MM: My presentation was a paper I wrote for my foundations II class that focused on analyzing the movie The Social Network.

Q. How did it feel to present your work in front of a group of people?

MH: Presenting something that I put my heart and soul into was a nerve-wracking experience. Never before had I presented such a treasured piece of writing outside of a classroom setting. My parents, professors, and peers were all watching, and I was hoping my reading would be clear and concise. I made sure to read with emotion, and the nerves I felt before reading my piece disappeared. It was rewarding to hear the applause (and to applaud my fellow presenters) as I finished; the SFWC was such a positive, supportive environment. Presenting in a conference setting boosted my confidence and gave me valuable experience as a writer. 

MM: I have experience with public speaking but have not been able to do it for a while, so it felt great to be in front of an audience again! 

Q. Overall, what was your takeaway from this experience? 

MH: Overall, the SFWC was an incredible experience. It allowed me to make connections, share my work, and appreciate the work of other writers. Perhaps, most of all, I learned so much at the SFWC. I’m so glad that the University of St. Francis has a safe, supportive environment for writers.

MM: While I loved sharing my own work, the most inspiring part of the conference was hearing from others and being part of a space that included so many other talented and passionate writers. 

The St. Francis Writers’ Conference is Just Around the Corner

The St. Francis Writers' Conference is Just Around the Corner

Naoko FujimotoOn Saturday, November 13, the University of St. Francis English Department will host the 30th annual St. Francis Writers’ Conference, featuring poet Naoko Fujimoto as keynote speaker. This conference gives students the opportunity to share multimodal writing and gain presentation experience outside of the classroom.

Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan where she attended school at Nanzan Junior College. She then became an exchange student at Indiana University, where she received both a B.A. and an M.A. Some of her recent work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse and The Arkansas International.

Fujimoto is the author of “Glyph: Graphic Poetry=trans. Sensory,” a multi-media graphic art book that relays the work of translating sources, events, and emotional revelations into text (Tupelo Press, 2021). Additionally, she is the author of “Where I Was Born” (Willow Publishing, 2019), and three chapbooks, or short books of poetry.

Assistant Professor of English Elizabeth McDermott looks forward to the event and the presentation by Fujimoto.

“The exciting aspect of the 30th annual St. Francis Writers’ Conference, in addition to the students’ presentations, is the interactive keynote. Naoko Fujimoto is leading conference attendees in a graphic poetry exercise, and attendees will leave the keynote with their very own graphic poem,” McDermott said. “Fujimoto previously visited my Introduction to Creative Writing course, and the students really enjoyed her workshop style because she took them through her process step-by-step, inviting them to become inspired by the relationship between words and images.”

Naoko Fujimoto is an associate and outreach translation editor at RHINO Poetry, as well as a senior translation editor at Tupelo Quarterly. You can learn more about Fujimoto by visiting her website here, and if you are curious about her artistic process, check out this YouTube video:

To learn more about the St. Francis Writers’ Conference or to RSVP, visit or email!