Dear Young Writers, Teachers, and Parents, 

On March 25, 2023, Saint John’s High School welcomed 37 students and 5 writer-mentors for the Thirty-Third Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers Conference. Students in grades 7 through 12 represented 13 schools. Throughout the day, students attended four workshop sessions and the afternoon culminated in an open mic.

The day could not have been a success without the help of many people. My thanks to my co-moderators Katherine Guercio and Michael Curran, and to Joy Murphy of the custodial staff, Matt Iacavone from the IT department, and theater coordinator Nathan Colby.

Several members of the class of 2024 also served as excellent helpers throughout the day: Chase Rule, Drew Lindquist, Patrick Kane, Arnav Sheth, and Teddy Conboy led icebreaker sessions to welcome our guests and start the day with a creative activity. Michael Mendilian composed and read the opening prayer (shared below), and Morgan Creighton served as emcee for the student open mic at the end of the day. Additionally, we had help from Declan Berger, Chase Brush, Dylan Liu, Thomas Papagni, and Sam Ross.

Opening Prayer
By Michael Mendilian

Thank you, God, for bringing us all together today to enjoy this day so all of us writers can express our love for one another and you through the words put on paper. Let us be able to enjoy this day as we unite as a community with the art of writing, a gift you gave us to be able to express ourselves through numerous different forms. Dear God, bless everyone who has joined us today to celebrate and find joy through the simple task of putting words down on paper as well as those who took precious time out of their day to come and educate these students. In your name, we pray.

Click here to view photos from the conference.

We hope to see many of you again next year!

Diane Mulligan

Workshop Leaders

Loree Griffin Burns writes true stories for curious people of all ages. Her books for children have won many accolades, including American Library Association Notable designations, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book Award, an IRA Children’s Book Award, a Green Earth Book Award, and two Science Books & Films (SB&F) Prizes. Her essays for adults have been published in magazines like Yankee and honored in journals like Flyway. Samples of recent publications are shown below, and a more  complete body of work can be viewed on her website.

Rob Huckins is the author of four published works, including a novel, two short fiction/poetry collections, and a travelogue of essays on visiting China. Along with writing, Rob enjoys creativity in the visual arts, including photography, drawing, painting, and mixed media. He designs and sells custom mixed media artwork under the name Samurai Soop Art. Rob lives in Merrimack, NH and teaches high school social studies at Merrimack HS (NH).

Rodger Martin’
s latest volume of poetry, The Battlefield Guide, (Hobblebush Books: 2010) follows the selection of The Blue Moon Series, (Hobblebush Books: 2007) by Small Press Review as one of its bi-monthly picks of the year. He is a New Hampshire State Council on the Arts in Education roster artist and also a touring artist for the New England States Touring Foundation administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Timothy Mudie
is a speculative fiction writer and an editor of all sorts of genres. His fiction has appeared in various magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, and Interzone. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son. Find him online at

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney’s poems have appeared in Diner, The Worcester Review, The Journal of Irish Literature, and elsewhere, and have won an Academy of Poets Prize, the Frank O’Hara Poetry Prize, and other awards.  Beth has served as president of the Worcester County Poetry Association and as coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at the College of the Holy Cross, where she is now the Murray Professor of Arts and Humanities.  In May 2019, she received the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award from Holy Cross, only the second time it has ever been granted.  Beth’s chapbook, Hand Me Down (Finishing Line Press, 2013), was a semifinalist in the 2012 New Women’s Voices Competition.  She is now writing a series of poems about her namesake, Mad Sweeney—a king, poet, and madman in Irish folklore—and his wife.

WCYWC Keynote Speakers

List of 7 items.

  • 2019: Andy and Veronica Fish

    This husband-and-wife team of graphic artists has been offering their unique and popular workshops for over 10 years to students of all ages. Andy Fish is a noted comic book artist, illustrator and painter—his work has been published all over the world and exhibited in galleries as far away as Sydney, Australia. His most recent graphic novel is Dracula’s Army: The Dead Travel Fast, an adaption of Dracula brings to light storylines that only lurked in the shadows of the original. Veronica Fish’s paintings have been shown in galleries around the world, and she's also worked on character design, storyboarding for film and TV, apparel design, and editorial illustration. Veronica recently illustrated a comic entitled Blackwood, a supernatural fantasy about a magical murder in a sorcery school. As visual storytellers who often work with writers to develop comics and graphic novels, Andy and Veronica bring a fresh, new perspective to our conference. The keynote address will begin at 4:00 and is free and open to the public.
  • 2018: Terry Farish

    Terry Farish is a writer with a passion for following the stories of people from many cultures who come as immigrants or refugees to the U.S. The Good Braider is her free verse novel for young adults and adults about 17-year old Viola and her family’s journey from war-torn Sudan, to Cairo, and finally to Portland, Maine.  She wrote The Good Braider after travel to Kakuma Refugee Camp on the border of Kenya and South Sudan and years of collecting oral histories among southern Sudanese families in Portland. The novel was selected as a Best Book of the Year by the American Library Association, Bank Street College of Education, and School Library Journal.  Her picture books include The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup, illus. by Barry Root and The Alleyway set in Lawrence, MA.  The Alleyway, about a small boy whose brother has been deployed in the US Army, is in production and will be illustrated by Oliver Dominquez. In 2015 her novel, Either the Beginning or the End of the World, will be published by Carolrhoda Books. Through the New Hampshire Humanities Council, Terry leads literacy programs with refugee and immigrant parents, and she also teaches writing at Manchester (NH) Community College. You can visit her site at
  • 2017: Regie Gibson

    Literary Performer and educator, Regie Gibson, received his MFA from New England College. He’s lectured and performed in the U.S., Cuba and Europe. Representing the U.S., Regie competed for and received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy. Himself and his work appear in “love jones”: a feature-film based on events in his life. He is a former National Poetry Slam Champion, has featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, WBUR’s On Point, Radio Boston, and various other NPR programs. Regie has performed at TED X Boston, Ted X Bedford and TED X Natick, and has been nominated for a Boston Emmy. He’s received the Walker Scholarship for Poetry from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and a YMCA Writer’s Fellowship. He’s been published in Poetry Magazine, Harvard’s Divinity Magazine, and The Iowa Review, among others. His volume of poems, “Storms Beneath the Skin”, has received the Golden Pen Award. He has received both an MCC Poetry Award and a Lexington Education Foundation Grant. Regie has performed with and composed texts for The Boston City Singers, The Mystic Chorale and Boston’s Handel+Haydn Society. He performs regularly with Atlas Soul: a world-music ensemble, his own word-music ensemble, The Regie Gibson Project, and is He one half of the duo, Shakespeare to Hip-Hop: An education and performance vehicle integrating the performance and study of classical and modern texts into English curriculums.
  • 2016: Jasmine Mans

    An author, performer, poet, teacher...yes to all of those titles, but more importantly Jasmine Mans is an artist who enjoys having various forums to express her thoughts, moods, opinions and a voice to speak out on behalf of others and the community around her. A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison (2014), Jasmine received her BA in African-American Studies (Black Theory & Literature) and is the recipient of the Star Ledger – NJPAC; Arts Millennia; and (New York) Knicks Poetry Slam Scholarships and awards. However, Mans began stringing rhymes together as a middle-school student in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. Those artistic skills were honed while attending the first performing arts high school in the nation, Newark Arts High School.

  • 2015: Adam Gottlieb

    Adam Gottlieb is a Poet, Singer/Songwriter, Teaching-Artist who advocates for the power of the spoken word. He was featured in the film Louder than a Bomb, a documentary described as a "celebration of American youth at their creative best." 

    "None of this prepares the viewer for the bomb that is Adam Gottlieb (from tony Northside College Prep), whose first reading at the 20-minute mark, of a poem celebrating poetry, announces a promising new American talent. It’s difficult to resist the comparison to Allen Ginsberg in Gottlieb’s nearly breathless recitation, his use of incantation and rhythmic attack, and the sense of an epic unfolding before our ears. His subsequent reading, on his Jewish roots in Chicago, is pitched in an entirely different register and suggests a novelistic sensibility." - Variety

  • 2014: Juliette Fay

    Author Juliette Fay was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Worcester County Young Writers Conference. Students from around the area gathered to work with writing professionals and share their own work in front of their peers. Student slam poets who competed at the Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam in Boston performed, and writing mentors spoke at a panel on publishing.

    Shelter Me, Juliette’s first published novel, was designated as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2009 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. It was also named to the Indie Next List of the American Booksellers Association, was chosen as one of six novels for Target’s 2009 Bookmarked Club, and was a Good Housekeeping featured Book Pick. Her second novel, Deep Down True, was published in January 2011 by Viking Penguin, and was short-listed for the Women’s Fiction Award of the American Library Association. The Shortest Way Home, her third novel, was chosen as one of Library Journal‘s Top 5 BEST BOOKS of 2012: Women’s Fiction.

  • 2013: Matthew Quick

    Matthew Quick (aka Q) is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Academy Award-nominated film. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Q lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette.

Pictures from the 25th Annual WCYWC (2015)

25th Annual Worcester County Young Writers Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 6 items.

  • Who is eligible to attend?

    Students grades 7-12 with an interest in creative writing. In a typical year, students join us from approximately 40 schools from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. For our return to an in-person event in 2022, we are requiring proof of COVID vaccination.
  • When and where is the event?

    The conference will take place on March 25, 2023, at Saint John's High School in Shrewsbury, MA. 

    Conference Schedule:
    • 9:00 - 9:15– Participant Registration

    • 9:15 - 10:00 – Student-led Activity

    • 10:00 - 10:15 - Large Group Session 

    • 10:20 - 11:15 - Workshop 1

    • 11:20 - 12:15 - Workshop 2

    • 12:20 - 12:55 - Lunch

    • 1:00 - 1:55  Workshop 3

    • 2:00 - 2:30 - Student Open Mic
  • What happens during workshops?

    Students meet with writing mentors to learn aspects of their craft, generate new writing, and share their work with their peers. Throughout the day, students will attend three different workshops and will try their hand at a variety of types of writing.
  • Who runs the writing workshops?

    Local writers who many years of experience publishing and mentoring. See mentor bios below.
  • What is the cost of the event and what does it include?

    The registration fee is $50 and includes all workshops and lunch.
  • What do I need to register?

    You must complete our electronic form to sign up. To register, you will need to provide
    • your name, 
    • your Email address and a parent’s Email address
    • your school and grade, 
    • your English teacher’s name and Email address
    • your workshop preferences
    The registration fee can be paid online by credit card or with a check by mail.

To Register

Registration is now closed for the 2023 conference. Please join our mailing list to be notified about future events.

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