randon billings noble looking at coffee mug


Randon Billings Noble is a returning HippoCamp speaker. Last year, she gave a highly-rated session called “essaying the book review.” This year, along with Marshall Warfield, she’s leading a pre-conference workshop, “Worries of the Poet, Tools of the Essayist: Crafting the Lyric Essay.”

We’re thrilled to welcome her back to Lancaster. Here’s a peek at her workshop, as well as some thoughts about literary citizenship, her latest CNF finds, and more.

(Read her co-presenter’s Q&A here.)

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

RBN: Attendees can expect to write.  The first half of this workshop will be devoted to germinating a lyric essay.  (I smiled when I wrote that sentence.  I love anything that has to do with the fizzy beginnings of new essays!)  During the second half of the workshop my co-presenter, Marshall Warfield, will show how six techniques used in poetry can advance and enhance an essay.

Who would benefit the most from your session or workshop?

Anyone interested in lyric essays or beautiful and evocative sentences will benefit.  Those who are intellectually playful, curious, willing to take risks – or wanting to – are especially welcome.


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?

How could it not be?  So many other writers have helped me along the way, offering advice or encouragement or even just companionship along the sometimes-lonely way.  I want to do the same for others, in whatever capacities I can.

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

I’m looking forward to hearing Wendy Bilen talk about research, and Vicki Mayk talk about speculation, and Geeta Kothari talk about writers vs. narrators.  I love the many conversations that spring up at the breakfast topic tables.  As an introvert, I’m probably also going to enjoy “Dinner on Your Own.”  But most of all I look forward to the surprises a conference brings – seeing an old friend, meeting a new one, or having an unexpected door open into an idea or essay.

Lancaster is an amazing city – since you’ve been here before, what suggestions do you have for those who haven’t been here yet?
I definitely recommend the many doughnut offerings at the Lancaster Central Market.


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?)

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City (which I reviewed for The A.V. Club).  The three-volume graphic memoir March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.  Elissa Washuta’s essay “Apocalypse Logic,” Rufi Thorpe’s essay “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid,” and all things Rebecca Solnit but especially A Field Guide to Getting Lost.


Anything else?

Can a conference be characterized as “happy”?  If so, this one is – but not at the expense of intelligence or seriousness. Thank you, Donna, for putting together such a thoughtful and well-run conference. I’m thrilled to be back and recommend HippoCamp to anyone who’s looking for a smart, intimate, and inclusive conference experience!


Randon, we echo your sentiment about doughnuts at Central Market! Baked goods galore. To learn more about Randon, visit her speaker profile page.


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  1. HippoCamp Speaker Preview: A Q&A with Marshall Warfield « HippoCamp 2017: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers says: April 21, 2017 at 10:52 pm

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