A Message from the Director

February 5, 2021

Dear Friends,

The Kentucky Women Writers Radio Hour is back! Please join me on February 8 or 14 at 8 p.m. for conversations with two Kentucky poets who published books published in 2020. I spoke with Joy Priest about her award-winning debut collection, Horsepower, and Board member Randi Ewing spoke with Lynnell Edwards about the historical and landscape poetry of This Great Green Valley. Here are 3 ways to listen:
  • tune in to WUKY FM 91.3 at 8 p.m. on February 8 or 14
  • livestream (go online during the broadcast) here
  • listen to the recording posted here after the broadcast

Carrie Green is another Kentucky poet who launched a book during the pandemic. Her Studies of Familiar Birds came out in December, after her very moving reading of selections from it at our conference last fall. I think this blurb captures it best: "Carrie Green’s poems are as exquisitely crafted as the nests they depict, honoring the delicacy of loss. Studies of Familiar Birds explores, through elegy, ekphrasis, and ode, the tender affections for family and nature. Whether it is the nineteenth-century egg-and-nest illustrations of Genevieve and Virginia Jones, the avid gaze upon commonplace birds, or the remembrance of the poet’s own beloved father, this collection of poems creates an aviary of light." –Amy Fleury    Studies of Familiar Birds can be purchased from Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org, or Amazon.

In other news of past presenters, Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2020 by the New York Times, which said: "A bevy of kids and their middle-aged parents convene for the summer at a country house in America’s Northeast. . . What begins as generational comedy soon takes a darker turn, as climate collapse and societal breakdown encroach. The ensuing chaos is underscored by scenes and symbols repurposed from the Bible — a man on a blowup raft among the reeds, animals rescued from a deluge into the back of a van, a baby born in a manger. With an unfailingly light touch, Millet delivers a wry fable about climate change, imbuing foundational myths with new meaning and, finally, hope." Those of you lucky enough to have taken Lydia’s workshop in 2019 will remember her dry wit and deep engagement with climate issues, which combine beautifully in this latest work.

Huge congratulations are in order for past presenter and legendary Kentucky writer Bobbie Ann Mason, born in 1940 and still in her prime as evidenced by her latest novel, Dear Ann, being named one of 10 books on the longlist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, America’s largest peer-juried literary prize. Exploring the excitement of youth and the nostalgia of old age through its protagonist, Ann Workman, Dear Ann was inspired in part by experiences of Mason’s writer friends who studied at Stanford on Stegner Fellowships. In the words of People magazine, “You can practically smell the incense and hear the Beatles in this love letter to the counterculture of the 1960s.” See the other PEN/Faulkner nominees here.

Finally, I am thrilled to welcome six new members to our Board of Directors: Leannia Haywood, Tosha Larson, Kristi Maxwell, Lisa Miller, Dani Quintos, and Ginny Southgate. They join current members Randi Ewing, Shelda Hale, Patrice Muhammad, and Ashley Sipple-McGraw. Together, these accomplished leaders will steer us through another year of pandemic-induced uncertainty. The 2021 conference dates have been set for September 9–12, 2021, and we are planning for an in-person conference, taking our cue from the University of Kentucky, which is planning for a normal fall semester. But, we will be prepared to switch to online if needed. Because of this uncertainty, we are once again delaying our registration opening from April to July. Registration will open on July 1, 2021, and by then we will know whether the conference will be fully in person, fully online, or a hybrid of the two. Finally, much gratitude is owed to Board members who departed in 2020 and served us so admirably: Camilla Holzer, Erin Keane, Jessica Winters, and Katy Yocom. You are greatly missed!

P.S. Dates for the next Kentucky Women Writers Conference will be September 9–12, 2021, and registration will begin on July 1, 2021. Its modality (in-person, online, or hybrid) is tbd.

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