53rd Annual UND Writers Conference
Authors and Artists
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. His newest release, A Little Devil In America, was published with Random House in 2021. In 2021, Abdurraqib was named a MacArthur Fellow. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.
Hailed by The New Yorker as “an acute and compassionate observer,” Nomadland author Jessica Bruder reports on social injustice, subcultures, and the dark underbelly of American capitalism. Her clear-headed and empathetic stories are “stunning and beautifully written,” writes Arnie Hochschild in The New York Times Book Review, that haunt us long after we’ve finished reading.
Bruder’s Nomadland—the basis of the Oscar-winning film of the same name—documents the lives of itinerant Americans who travel from job to job out of economic necessity. Employers from big-box retailers to commercial farmers have found a new source of cheap labor: transient older Americans. When Social Security comes up short and their mortgages sink underwater, these overlooked casualties of the Great Recession take to the road in old RVs, trailers, and camper vans, forming a migrant community of self-identified “workampers.” Nomadland follows Bruder’s unforgettable subjects as they clean campground toilets, scan products in warehouses, and harvest beets in a scramble to survive, often long past the age at which they expected to retire.
In a feat of immersive journalism, Bruder drove from coast to coast and from Mexico to Canada―a total of 15,000 miles―and spent months living in a secondhand camper nicknamed Van Halen to understand her subjects’ lives and experiences on a more personal level. She came away determined to shine a light on the urgency of providing affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, preserving Social Security, and decriminalizing homelessness. Her “devastating, revelatory book” (The Washington Post) foreshadows the precarious future that may await more of us, while still managing to celebrate the quintessentially American resilience and creativity of her subjects.
With our nation’s economic future seemingly more unequal and unstable every year, Nomadland presents a “wonderfully humane and deeply troubling” (The Nation) look at how the American dream has failed some of our most vulnerable citizens. A New York Times Notable Book and an Editors’ Choice selection, it won the Discover Award and was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize and the Helen Bernstein Book Award. Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews both listed Nomadland among their top 10 titles of 2017. The book has been translated into four languages, with additional translations forthcoming.
The Oscar-winning film adaptation―a “masterpiece” (Entertainment Weekly)―was directed by Chloé Zhao, starring Frances McDormand and David Strathairn alongside dozens of other real people featured in the book. “Overflowing with humanity and tenderness for its characters” (BBC), the film garnered numerous awards including the coveted Golden Lion at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, two Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA, and four Critics Choice Awards. Topping dozens of Best Films of 2020 lists, Nomadland took home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress at the 2021 Academy Awards.
In her next book, Bruder will examine the marginalized communities working at the forefront of the modern labor movement. Expanding off of her cover story for WIRED about a tight-knit community of East Africans working at an Amazon facility in Shakopee, Minnesota, the book will follow their rise to the forefront of the American labor movement, examining their struggles through the prisms of race, immigration, economic inequality, and anti-Muslim sentiment in the modern American workplace. In 2019, the New America Foundation recognized Bruder’s work reporting in these communities with a fellowship.
In 2013, after agreeing to receive a mysterious package, Bruder became part of the human network that ferried the entire NSA archive leaked by Edward Snowden. Bruder and co-author Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dale Maharidge wrote about the part they played in bringing to light the massive surveillance apparatus assembled by the US government to spy on its own people, in Snowden’s Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance. Originally a piece for Harper’s Magazine, an engrossing narrative that reflects on the status of transparency and trust in the age of surveillance, suggesting what citizens and activists can do to protect privacy and democracy.
Bruder is the also the author and one of the photographers behind Burning Book, a visually driven nonfiction exploration of Burning Man, the annual celebration of art and creativity that has been drawing tens of thousands of revelers to the remote Nevada desert for more than a quarter-century.
Bruder has taught narrative storytelling at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for more than a decade. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, she was the founding columnist behind Start, a blog profiling socially innovative startups. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, WIRED, Harper’s, The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Nation, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Inc. Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Reuters, the AP, and CNNMoney.com. She is a former staff writer at The Oregonian and The New York Observer, as well as a former senior editor of Fortune Small Business.
For her longform magazine stories, Bruder has earned a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and a Deadline Club Award. She has also received support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the New America Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. She speaks on income inequality, labor, the gig economy, social justice, subcultures, surveillance, the housing crisis, immersion journalism and other related issues.
Kelli Jo Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Award at Bread Loaf, a National Artist Fellowship by the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She is the author of the novel Crooked Hallelujah. Her fiction has appeared in the Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Missouri Review, and the anthology Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, among other places.
Kaitlyn Greenidge is a novelist and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. Her most recent novel, the critically acclaimed Libertie (Algonquin Books, 2021) received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it, “another genius work of radical historical fiction.” She is the author of the debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books, 2016), one of the New York Times Critics' Top 10 Books of 2016, which Buzzfeed called “masterful,” and Booklist praised as “wondrous.” She writes extensively on race and culture. Her essays have appeared in Vogue, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, Elle.com, Buzzfeed, Transition Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, American Short Fiction and other places. She was also a contributing editor for LENNY Letter. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
When asked by the Los Angeles Review of Books about how language develops within families, a theme of We Love You, Charlie Freeman, she responded, “That was the inspiration for the book. I wanted to explore how families communicate with each other, and the ways they can be truthful in their communications, and then the ways that those languages that grow within families can also be dishonest and hide the truth. They can calcify people’s relationships with each other, sometimes, but can also be real sources of strength and comfort. I wanted to explore both sides of the complicated nature of that communication.”
Greenidge holds an MFA from Hunter College, and is currently at work on her second novel. She lives in Brooklyn.
Cal Lane is an internationally acclaimed sculptor known for turning ordinary objects into lacy artworks. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and a Master degree in Fine Arts in sculpture from State University of New York. To date, her pieces stand alone in capturing a delicacy and intricacy quite apart from her closest contemporaries. Lane’s tapestries, cut into harsh and often preternaturally large steel and iron structures, are sensual, alluring and deeply effeminate. Having spent much of her early life as a hairdresser in her mother’s salon in Vancouver Island, Lane soon became interested in exploring gender roles and conceptual art. Lane’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France and the USA.
Sarah M. Vogel is the first woman in US history elected Commissioner of Agriculture and is one of the nation’s foremost agriculture lawyers. The American Agricultural Law Association awarded her its Distinguished Service Award, and Willie Nelson honored Sarah at Farm Aid’s 30th Anniversary for her longtime service to family farmers. Hailed as “a giant killer in ag law” by The Nation, Sarah served for decades as co-counsel on the Keepseagle case filed to redress USDA’s race discrimination against Native American ranchers and farmers. An in-demand speaker and passionate advocate for farmers and Native Americans, Sarah lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.