marshall warfield presenting at hippocamp 2016

We’re excited to welcome Marshall Warfield back to HippoCamp! This year, Marshall will expand his 2016 breakout session, “Worries of the Essayist, Tools of a Poet” into a three-hour per-conference workshop, which he is co-teaching with Randon Billings Noble. We asked Marshall a few questions about his workshop and his return to Lancaster.

(Read his co-presenter’s Q&A here.)

HM: Without sharing any spoilers, what can attendees expect from your workshop?

MW: This is a fun question for someone who is co-presenting. As I see it, attendees can expect new love and new advice. Not love advice, I am NOT good at that, but I write poetry and love essays, and Randon writes essays and loves poetry, so expect something interesting. We work in one form and read both, so the information we give—skills and techniques coming from two genre-perspectives—should help attendees to find new love for old essays that are frustrating them. Attendees will also be inspired to begin new essays.

Who would benefit the most from your session or workshop?
Anyone who is willing to push the envelope with their nonfiction will benefit from this session. The tools we will discuss here can push essays into hybrid territory if the author wants.  If an attendee is antsy or bored with their work—or doesn’t often think about their sentence-level choices—this workshop should feel like a playground offering a bunch of new equipment that will give your prose some exercise.


Literary citizenship is so important today, and by being part of our conference, you’re contributing to the CNF community — why is sharing with others important to you?

Literary citizenship saved my life. Many times writers gave me advice, guidance, and books. Sometimes I paid for this. Sometimes it was given to me for free. Because of this, I am a better writer, teacher, and human being. If I can pay it forward every now and then, the world will be a better place. Perhaps equally important is the idea that conferences like this help advance the state of the art. CNF will do more interesting things, more often, if writers and readers are sharing their insights with each other. The discoveries we make when we engage in literary citizenship—such as Hippocamp—rarely happen in solitude.


Taking off your presenter hat, what are you hoping to learn as an attendee at HippoCamp?

I have no expectations this year. Last year was so full of great events and activities. This year I hope to learn how to balance them all.

Lancaster is an amazing city – since you’ve been here before, what suggestions do you have for those who haven’t been here yet?

A good memory from last year: It’s early morning. I am strolling by the stalls of the Lancaster Central Market taking in all the aromas as workers put out the cheeses, meats, produce, and baked goods while I savor a doughnut made the Pennsylvania-German way. A goal this year: take the 50 minute-trip to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg. Housed in a 1920’s movie theater? I must see this.


What was a recent and memorable work of creative nonfiction you read – whether a book or shorter piece? (And what did you love about it?)
I finished J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy last week. I appreciated those passages where Vance shares his struggles to adapt his perceptions of himself and the world around him. In those moments where he shares his questions and concerns about his own views with this readers, he makes himself a bit vulnerable—not easy for a guy whose instincts were always to run or fight.


Marshall, thank you for your passion for sharing and your love of literary citizenship. We’re excited to have you back on (Hippo)Campus! To learn more about Marshall, visit his speaker profile.


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  1. HippoCamp Speaker Preview: Randon Billings Noble « HippoCamp 2017: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers says: April 21, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    […] (Read her co-presenter’s Q&A here.) […]