If San Miguel de Allende is magical, then it is no surprise that the San Miguel Writers’ Conference spins the magic of place into an enchanted garden of the writer’s craft.
Known as the literary crossroads of the Americas, the San Miguel Writers conference attracts attendees from around the world for five days of intense celebration of writers from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America. From a modest attendance of 26 in 2006, the conference has grown annually to an attendance of 325 in 2014.
This year’s evening keynote speakers included Calvin Trillin, Yann Martel, Laura Esquivel, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Afternoon keynote speakers were David Whyte, Kathi Diamant, and Ellen Bass.
Evening keynote speakers and the conference artist and author, Duncan Tonatiuh, signed books and greeted conference attendees in a Book Signing Gala Saturday afternoon. Afternoon keynote speakers signed books immediately following their afternoon keynote addresses. A part of the magic of the San Miguel Writers Conference is the openness and accessibility of the keynote speakers.
The daily 90-minute workshops led by a faculty of published authors are engaging, provocative, and relevant. The last day of the conference, half-day workshops offer a deeper and more intense exploration of various elements of the writer’s craft. The workshop experience is a master class in writing. It is the place to be for emerging authors.
The conference gives me a keener focus on writing. More important, the conference leaves me with significant personal insights. Poet David Whyte mesmerized the conference audience with his poetry and the poetry of others that he recited from memory. Fortunate to participate in a round table with Whyte and six other conference attendees, I was grateful for the opportunity to describe to him the impact of being introduced to Walt Whitman’s poetry at the age of twenty–fifty years ago–and the thrill of recognizing his (Whyte’s) poetry moves me in the same way.
Equally significant was hearing Benjamin Alire Sáenz speak passionately about the experience of growing up on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border and the tension he feels as a citizen of both cultures. “The United States sells its culture to the world,” Sáenz said, “and when citizens of other countries knock at America’s door the tragedy is they are turned away as if we hate them because they love our culture.”
Equipped with new skills and insights, a refreshed view of my own writing, and renewed energy and motivation to write, I remain in San Miguel for two months following the conference to savor the magic of place.