Ben Miller was the keynote speaker for this year’s David R. Collins Writers’ Conference on Thursday, June 27 at the Figge’s John Deere auditorium. What follows are my remarks at the open mic event held Friday, June 28 at Rozz-Tox, Rock Island, IL.
"Ben Miller was the perfect choice to be the keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary edition of the David R. Collins Writers’ Conference. The Figge was the perfect venue. I toured two exhibits that involved recycling: the first artist used garbage from Rio’s largest dump to restage famous paintings, the other artist reused knick-knacks to form collages that transformed familiar objects into shrines and 3-D sculptures. Perfect tie ins with the title of Ben Miller’s book which is rather long and involved. It begins with “River Bend Chronicle” moves on to mention “Junkification,” then alludes to a “Boyhood,” before concluding with “the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa.” To date it is his one and only book.
I believe Ben Miller is better known for his essays. I believe that after listening to him speak to us current members of the Midwest Writing Center and this year’s conference attendees. His remarks were quite literate and eloquent. Testament to the many people he mentioned and thanked for helping a needy youngster turn a writing passion into a life’s work.
Dick Stahl still writes poems inspired by the Mississippi River; he just celebrated his 80th birthday. Steve Lackey keeps the Writer’s Studio chugging along; its twice monthly meetings still welcome all comers. Rochelle Murray may be a retired librarian, but she never tires of being the champion for children’s reading skills. These are only a few of Miller’s cast of life-changing, perhaps lifesaving, characters.
The Midwest Writing Center began as the vision of David R. Collins, teacher. It continues as a hard-working resource for all aspiring writers. Just as it supplied Ben Miller with what he needed, when he needed it. The Midwest Writing Center has always been there for my writing journey by offering just the right workshop, and the perfect inspiration when I needed it. So yes, I answered Ben Miller’s call to action— DO SOMETHING FOR YOUR WRITING EVERY DAY! I wrote this today, at 5 AM. And I will write something else tomorrow.
Thank you all for your support." Mary R. Davidsaver