St. Francis Writers’ Conference

Present your writing at the University of St. Francis!

Saturday, November 16, 2019, at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.

2019 marks the 28th year for the St. Francis Writers’ Conference. U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Tobias Wolff, Eavan Boland, Mary Gordon, Tillie Olsen, and Li Young Lee, among others, have read and discussed their work with students at USF’s annual St. Francis Writers’ Conference (formerly known as the English Language and Literatures Conference). Students from institutions such as Barnard, Harvard, Northwestern, Sarah Lawrence and the University of Illinois as well as USF have participated in this conference, where undergraduates annually present their own scholarship to an audience of peers and professors.

The conference is an opportunity for students to hone their argumentative thinking skills. Their work falls into categories including literature, translation, comparative literature, critical theory, film, creative writing, teaching English, history & politics, philosophy & theology, science writing, business writing, and ecocriticism. Nearly 30 presentations are given each year.

Conference attendance is free, RSVP is recommended.

Keynote Speaker

male headshotA former Chicago social worker, Peter Kahn is a founding member of the London poetry collective Malika’s Kitchen. His poems have been published internationally in various journals, he has twice been a commended poet in the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition (UK), and he was a finalist in the Fugue Poetry Contest and Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, among others. A high school teacher at Oak Park/River Forest High School since 1994, Peter was a Featured Speaker at the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention. He helped conceive of Louder Than a Bomb, for which he was named Coach of the Year, and created the London Teenage Poetry Slam.

His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The London Guardian, BBC radio, NPR, Education Week, the documentary Louder Than a Bomb and docu-series America to Me. As a Visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths-University of London, he founded the Spoken Word Education Training Programme. He has been an adjunct or guest lecturer at Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, Concordia University-Chicago, the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Denison University and Oxford University (UK).

Peter Kahn has presented at the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Poetry Foundation’s Teacher Institute (Chicago and Miami) and the NCTE annual convention. Peter holds an MA in English Education from The Ohio State University and earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. Along with Patricia Smith and Ravi Shankar, Peter co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, which was reviewed by Claudia Rankine in The New York Times. He is teaming with Dan Sullivan, Franny Choi and Hanif Abdurraqib to create a poetry anthology honoring the 20th anniversary of Oak Park/River Forest High School’s Spoken Word Club. Peter’s own poetry collection will be published in the United Kingdom in the spring of 2020.

Interested in presenting?

Current and prospective undergraduate students should submit abstracts for proposed papers or presentations by Sept. 30 to

Categories include:

  • Literature
  • Translation
  • Comparative Literature
  • Critical Theory
  • Film
  • Creative Writing
  • Teaching English
  • History & Politics
  • Philosophy & Theology
  • Science Writing
  • Business Writing
  • Ecocriticism

There are also special sessions for high school writers.

Register Today

Hotel & Shuttle Information

We regret that we have no funds for travel or hotels; however, we have set aside rooms at the following hotels for your convenience. Please be sure to mention the St. Francis Writers’ Conference at the time of reservation and reference the contact name as Beth McDermott.

  • Wingate Inn
    101 McDonald Ave., Joliet  |  815-741-2100 
  • Quality Inn & Suites
    35 South Larkin Ave., Joliet  |  815-744-1770 
  • Best Western
    4380 Enterprise Drive, Joliet  |  815-730-7500


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