HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Rae Pagliarulo

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Rae Pagliarulo is more than a returning HippoCamp presenter. She’s also Hippocampus Magazine’s associate editor and flash editor (and leads an A-team of flash readers) — and she’s also heavily involved in the behind-the-scenes of HippoCamp. Rae, a Philadelphia native who works as a nonprofit consultant by day, was kind enough to answer a few questions about her upcoming trip into Lancaster and her many, many duties at HippoCamp:


Q: Tell us a little about your involvement this year at HippoCamp.

A: I’m hosting a pre-conference workshop focused on creating your very own mini Creative Survival Handbook. It’s a very tactile workshop, where we talk about our own survival strategies and then get to work with every art supply under the sun! It’s a great way to kick off a very intense and busy weekend, and it really reminds everyone of how to take care of themselves. Plus, it’s a wonderful way for first-time HippoCampers to make some early connections!

Q: Our motto is “memorable creative nonfiction.” Tell us about one of the more recent memoirs, essay collections, or individual essays you’ve read and why it was memorable. If it’s online, share a link!

A: Too many to list, honestly. As the associate editor/flash editor of the magazine, though, I’m constantly blown away by the pieces we’re lucky enough to publish! Recently I was really overwhelmed when reading “De-escalation” by Lauren Woods.

Q: What made you decide to participate in HippoCamp this year as a speaker? If you’re a returning speaker, how did your past experiences encourage to want to come back?

A: I’ve been to HippoCamp every single year, and when I first showed up, I was a nervous MFA candidate who didn’t really think of herself as a writer. Every year, coming to HippoCamp has given me more than I could bargain for: writing buddies, friendships, and opportunities that I couldn’t dream of.

Also, as associate editor of Hippocampus, I get to help Donna and Kevin plan and prepare for this amazing weekend, and at the end of it, we all feel like proud parents: overwhelmed, exhilarated, and exhausted! I will attend every HippoCamp for as long as it’s happening. 🙂

Q: What’s going to keep you busy between now and HippoCamp?

A: In my day job as a fundraising consultant for nonprofits all over Philadelphia, I don’t really have “downtime.” So between now and the conference, I’ll be working on several federal grant applications, a business plan, a strategic plan, and a multi-million dollar building campaign! No sweat!

Q: Since you’ll also be attending the conference, when you’re not wearing your “speaker hat,” what are you most looking forward to learning or doing?

A: I have to be okay with missing things because at HippoCamp I want to do EVERYTHING. This year I’m really excited to see Lillie Gardner’s session on writing like a musician, to do yoga with Steph Auteri, and to learn everything I can about interviewing from Sheela Clary.

Q: We love introducing Lancaster to attendees. Since you’ve been here before, what would you recommend to other attendees? And what are you looking forward to?

A: Every year I tell myself I’m going to stay an extra few days just to hang out in town! It’s so freakin’ cute. I never miss the chance to go record shopping at Stan’s, grab a London Fog latte at Prince Street Cafe, and pick up a PA-themed shirt from Foxduck. Honestly – too many things to list. Building Character! Central Market! Max’s! Passenger Coffee! Stop me, please!


We can’t wait for Rae to join us this year! HippoCamp 2022, a creative nonfiction conference sponsored by Hippocampus Magazine and Books, is Aug. 12-14 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information or to register, visit our official conference website here.

(Learn more about the conference and see details of all previous years at our magazine website’s HippoCamp page.)

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