Mayborn Conference Snags Ira Glass

Expect more Converse-clad, glasses-having attendees (such as myself) than usual at this year’s Mayborn Conference. The literary nonfiction writers gathering put on by the University of North Texas has announced the 2009 lineup of speakers. Included is This American Life host Ira Glass, who knows how to tell a story. (He also knows how to tell someone how to tell a story, as evidenced in these YouTube clips.) Another notable speaker: travel writer Paul Theroux. The full Mayborn release is after the jump. The conference is July 24-26. Registration starts this Wednesday.

(Photo credit Nancy Updike)

Fifth annual Mayborn Conference to feature NPR host Ira Glass

and other prominent storytellers, July 24-26

What: 2009 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest – an annual literary conference hosted by the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. The conference brings in renowned nonfiction storytellers from across the country for lectures and workshops. Also includes a literary competition.

When: July 24 – 26 (Friday – Sunday)

· Friday will feature travel writer Paul Theroux

· Saturday will feature “This American Life” host Ira Glass

· Sunday will feature Latin American correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto

Where: Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine

Cost: Fees are $295 for the general public. Student fees are $225. Educator fees are $270. Conference seating is limited. Additional fees may apply.

Registration: Registration will open on Feb. 18 (Wednesday). To register, visit For more information, call 940-565-4564.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The way stories are told has evolved throughout history. The earliest people told stories with cave painting and oral traditions passed from generation to generation, whereas today storytelling is beginning to rely more on technology and multimedia.

The 2009 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest, hosted by the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, will feature an eclectic group of talented storytellers who have been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenge of storytelling. The conference will feature speakers from genres unexplored in previous years including travel writing, broadcast, nature writing and documentary film.

“The world of literary nonfiction is changing,” said George Getschow, conference writer-in-residence. “This year’s conference features a diverse group of storytellers – all of whom come out of a journalism background. Taken together, our presenters offer a lesson for all of us: that in this new age of journalism, writers have to be able to stretch themselves, to tell stories in a variety of genres.”

The diversity of speakers is apparent in the keynote speakers. Travel writer Paul Theroux will speak from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 24 (Friday). National Public Radio host Ira Glass will speak from 8 to 8:50 p.m. on July 25 (Saturday). Alma Guillermoprieto, Latin American correspondent for “The New Yorker,” will speak from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on July 26 (Sunday). All three keynote addresses will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Conference participants will enjoy an intimate dinner with the conference speakers on Friday night. Friday night’s lecture with Paul Theroux is open to the public. Individual tickets to Friday night’s lecture are $25. Saturday night’s keynote address by Ira Glass also is open to the public and includes dinner. Individual tickets to Saturday’s lecture and dinner are $100. Tickets for both events will be available online only. Table sponsorships are available for the Saturday event. A table of 10 is available for $1,500. Contact Jo Ann Ballantine, conference manager, at 940-565-4778 for more information.

Glass is the host and producer of the public radio program “This American Life,” which is heard on more than 500 public radio stations each week by more than 1.7 million listeners. “The American Journalism Review” declared that the award-winning show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.” Glass also has a passion for nonfiction writing, as evidenced by “The New Kings of Nonfiction,” a collection of narratives that Glass compiled as examples of the best new masters of nonfiction storytelling.

Getschow describes Theroux as “one of America’s literary lions,” having produced more than 47 books of travel writing, short-story collections, novels, criticism and children’s literature. Guillermoprieto has covered Latin America for more than 20 years. She has served as Latin American correspondent for both “The New Yorker” and “The New York Review of Books.”

Additionally, the conference will feature the nation’s foremost humor writer, Roy Blount Jr.; Stephanie Elizondo Griest , who Getschow calls the “accidental memoirist” of Mexican-American society; “Vogue’s” renowned narrative essay writer, Julia Reed; the nation’s leading authority on Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Michael Kauffman; Gordon Grice, who Getschow calls “the Stephen King of nature writers”; “Wall Street Journal” foreign correspondent and hunger expert, Roger Thurow; internationally acclaimed documentary filmmakers Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell; and a number of other storytellers.

Bob Shacochis, a National Book Award Winner (“Swimming in the Volcano”) and last year’s Friday night keynote speaker, calls the Mayborn Conference “the most compelling, remarkable writers’ conference I’ve attended in more than 20 years of writers’ conferences around the nation.

“And now, thanks and ever thanks to the Mayborn tribe of storytellers, I think of Dallas as a preferred destination, a center of literary gravity, perhaps the very heart of the universe these days for nonfiction writers in America,” Shacochis said.

As in past years, the conference also will include a manuscript and article/essay writing contest. The manuscript winner has the option to enter into a provisional publishing contract with UNT Press, and the 10 best articles or essays will be published in a literary journal jointly published by Hearst Newspapers and the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism. The best articles and essays will also compete for cash prizes.

Conference fees are $295 for the general public. Student fees are $225. Educator fees are $270. Conference seating is limited. Additional fees will apply to individuals entering the essay and manuscript contests.

Registration will be open on Feb. 18 (Wednesday). To register, visit For more information, call 940-565-4564.

For media interviews, contact Dr. Mitch Land, director of the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism, at (940) 565-4564 or [email protected] or Getschow at 940-369-8631 or [email protected] .


The University of North Texas is a student-centered public research university and the flagship of the UNT System. One of Texas’ largest universities, UNT offers 99 bachelor’s, 104 master’s and 49 doctoral degree programs, many nationally and internationally recognized. UNT is the choice of nearly 35,000 students. Discover the power of ideas.


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9 responses to “Mayborn Conference Snags Ira Glass”

  1. Alison says:

    After seeing him speak in Virginia, I was pretty ecstatic to see that he’ll be at UNT this summer. He’s an interesting and entertaining speaker.

  2. Bill Marvel says:

    Glass’ appearance is a sign that the Mayborn is casting a wider net in search of literary narrative. It’s a welcome — and necessary — development.

  3. luniz says:

    Why is he so unpopular with so many people? I think he’s great…

  4. miranda says:

    I hope more people go and see him there then they did when he was at the Meyerson. It was an awesome experience and sad that it was so poorly attended.

  5. Bill Marvel says:

    Unpopular? News to me. He’s a phenom on the West Coast.

  6. Go To Hell State Workers says:

    Another pussy from PBS. What gay glasses!

  7. a Mayborn student says:

    Ira Glass is great! This is going to be one exciting year! 🙂 Can’t wait!

  8. Troll Doll says:

    Go To Hell: Your mom’s gay.

  9. Bill Marvel says:

    Troll and Go To hell seem to be having their troubles with gays today. Can anybody here help them out?