Julie Wrinn's blog

Lydia Millet, Katy Yocom, and 2 Fiction Workshops

            July 5, 2019
Lydia Millet’s novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven begins: “When I insisted on keeping the baby, Ned threw his hands into the air palms-forward.” So we are plunged into Anna’s story of an unfortunate marriage and the birth of their daughter, Lena. Weary of Ned’s neglect, Anna flees with Lena, traveling anonymously from Alaska to Maine and encountering an unusual cast of characters, while Ned launches his pursuit. With surprising plot twists and philosophical musings about politics and God, Sweet Lamb of Heaven is a cerebral summertime page-turner.  

Darcey Steinke Invents the Menopause Memoir

June 28, 2019
I suppose what we need is a taxonomy of hot flashes, because mine are nothing like Darcey Steinke’s as described in her new memoir, Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life. Initially the feeling was closer to a panic attack, until I eliminated caffeine and the episodes evolved into benign waves of heat—as advertised. I started enjoying the sensation, especially in bone-chilling winter. Now I laugh if my glasses fog up, and I know I’ll miss my hot flashes when they’re gone. My friend Lisa says she misses hers.

Cuban American Novelist Chantel Acevedo & the Power of Place

Chantel Acevedo was born in Miami to Cuban parents, and her fiction evinces a fascination with the history and culture of that beautiful fraught island. In The Distant Marvels, a Booklist Top 10 Historical Novel of 2015, Acevedo nests her narrative in two historical periods, 1963 during Hurricane Flora, and 1895-98 during Cuba’s War of Independence. Born at sea en route to Cuba, the narrator describes how her mother, Lulu, named her:
"The island appeared like a low cloud on the horizon. Inspired, Lulu carried me unsteadily toward the ship’s bow, to glimpse our homeland. The sea was calm and crystal clear. Dolphins played a few feet away, their polished backs breaking the surface again and again, like extraordinary fruit bobbing in the water. Lulu says that the dolphins dove deep suddenly, and in their foamy wake, a ghostly white hand emerged, then another, then finally, the dark, wet head of a lady rose from the water. . . The lady did not speak, though it felt to Lulu as if she had marked me, claiming me for herself. The lady had lifted her arms and beckoned with a small flick of her wrists . . . Because she did not know what form of divinity she was dealing with, Lulu took no chances and named me Maria Sirena."

Barbara Hurd and "The Ear Is a Lonely Hunter"

June 14, 2019
Who doesn’t relish describing what she sees? Whether sketching a character, depicting a landscape, or writing poetry known as ekphrastic, creative writers lean heavily on sight as a conduit for rendering the world. In a fascinating departure, environmental writer Barbara Hurd has written a book about sound. Near her home in the mountains of western Maryland, she often visited the Savage River with her young granddaughter and found a rich new vein of inquiry there in what they heard. As Sierra magazine said of Hurd’s latest work, Listening to the Savage (2016):

A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing

Worldwide interest in DaMaris Hill’s new book of poetry, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, has meant a grand old-fashioned book tour such as you don’t often see anymore. From D.C. to Philly, Baltimore to Atlanta, California to Chicago and 3 different cities in France, DaMaris Hill is getting around. So we are thrilled that she is coming to KyWomenWriters2019 as well to share her work as a historical poet and a poetic historian. Explaining her impulse on the Writer’sBone podcast, DaMaris said, “I like to look at these poems like they’re praise songs to these women.”

DaMaris is also a gifted teacher, as her students at the University of Kentucky can attest, and now our audiences will have an opportunity to take a poetry workshop with DaMaris that focuses on the all-important process of revision:

The Return of Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

If you are an emerging writer with unpublished work and a yen to attend the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, you should consider submitting to our Betty Gabehart Prizes. They are unique prizes that offers full tuition to attend our conference on Sept. 19-22, enrollment in a two-part writing workshop, and $300, which winners can use to defray travel and lodging. Further, you are given a platform: not the metaphorical one that agents are always talking about, but a real stage, at our conference. Each winner is invited to read her work paired with another featured presenter. This “opening act” treatment is a tried-and-true method on the music scene for exposing new artists to wider audiences, and we like the impact it’s had on our Gabehart winners as well. This year’s pairings will be:
--The Gabehart Fiction winner will read with Chantel Acevedo, professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami and author of 3 novels, including Love and Ghost Letters, winner of the Latino International Book Award
--The Gabehart Poetry winner will read with DaMaris Hill, author of the new collection A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, on tour now throughout the U.S.
--The Gabehart Nonfiction winner will read with Darcey Steinke, author of 5 novels and two memoirs, including the forthcoming Flash Count Diary

The Return of Franny Choi

After she won our Wild Women of Poetry Slam in 2014, we knew Franny Choi was destined for great things. Since then she has published two full-length collections, Soft Science (2019) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (2014), as well as the chapbook Death by Sex Machine (2017). Like last year’s slam headliner, Safia Elhillo, Franny is demonstrating that success on the stage can translate brilliantly to the page. Here she is on NPR discussing her latest book and reading the poem “Turing Test,” inspired by Alan Turing’s measurement for how well a computer can imitate human speech, which Franny deploys as a metaphor for learning a native tongue. She also co-hosts the wildly entertaining podcast Vs. with Danez Smith, and—to bring things full circle—they interviewed Safia Elhillo on one fascinating episode entitled "Shame."
You’ll have to wait until September 21, 2019, to see Franny take the stage at our Wild Women of Poetry Slam, but if you’d like to familiarize yourself with her work sooner than that, please consider enrolling in our upcoming free workshop:

Anna Wright Wins Playwriting Prize

May 10, 2019
Please join us one week from today for our Preview Party & 40th Anniversary Board Reunion, featuring Savannah Sipple reading poems from her new book, WWJD:
Friday, May 17, 2019, 6–8 p.m.
ArtsPlace Performance Gallery
161 N. Mill Street
Free admission
Enjoy hors d’oeuvres by Athenian Grill, browse books by #KyWomenWriters2019 authors, and enter a drawing for one free admission to the conference on September 19–22 (a $125 value).

DaMaris Hill & Scholarships

This year we feature four poets with new books, all published in the first half of 2019 and very hot off the presses: Franny Choi, DaMaris Hill, Dorianne Laux, and Savannah Sipple. In today’s edition I’d like to highlight DaMaris Hill, a University of Kentucky professor who is traveling the U.S. this year to share work from her first full-length collection, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing. This book is a stunning collection of poetry and prose reflecting on the history of black women in the U.S. who have been enslaved, incarcerated, or oppressed. Booklist, in a starred review, said, “With a lyricism that sings, swings, and stings, poet and writer Hill reflects on black women who resisted violent racism and misogyny, ranging from the notable and notorious (Fannie Lou Hamer, Eartha Kitt, Ida B. Wells, Joanne Little) to lesser-known, no-less-heroic women.”

At our conference on September 19–22, 2019, DaMaris will read from A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing and also teach a two-day poetry workshop entitled, “Remix and Making Poems New—A Revision Workshop,” with attention to cross-genre and hybrid writing that Hill deploys so memorably in her book.

Playwriting Prize Finalists Announced!

The #KyWomenWriters 2019 season officially opens on Monday, April 1, when online registration will begin for the September 19–22 conference. Have a look at some of the incredible talent we’re bringing to Lexington: workshops will be led by Chantel Acevedo, Ifa Bayeza, DaMaris Hill, Barbara Hurd, Dorianne Laux, Lydia Millet, and Darcey Steinke. Their bios and workshop descriptions are now available on our website. Each workshop has a limit of 15 registrants, so don’t delay in securing your spot. At the same time, we’ll have robust offerings in the non-workshop sessions, including a craft talk by a virtuoso of the short story form and frequent New Yorker contributor, Antonya Nelson.

After months of script reading, our judges have announced 3 finalists in the 5th biennial Prize for Women Playwrights (you can read our press release here). Congratulations to:
· Bite the Apple, by Linda Manning of Bronx NY
· La Fee Verte, by Bridgette Portman of Fremont CA
· Sapphire Heights, by Anna Wright of St. Leonard's On Sea, Hastings, England

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