Julie Wrinn's blog

Gayl Jones, Honoreé Jeffers, Heather Parks, & farewell!

November 12, 2021
Dear Friends,
I write to you on my last day as Director of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. It’s been a challenging year, such that we elected not to hold a conference in 2021, yet many good things have occurred in the world of letters. By way of recap, I’d like to highlight successes of three women writers with ties to Kentucky: Gayl Jones, Honoreé Fanonne Jeffers, and Heather Parks.

Horsepower: Art Inspired by the Poetry of Joy Priest

I’m delighted to announce a collaboration with our local arts council, LexArts, on a juried art exhibition inspired by the work of Kentucky poet Joy Priest. Joy’s debut poetry collection, Horsepower, was selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey—a past presenter at our conference in 2008—as the winner of the prestigious Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from Pitt Press, who published the collection in 2020.

Radio Hour with Joy Priest & Lynnell Edwards

February 5, 2021
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:

Mothers & Supporting Women's Voices

As this very different holiday season unfolds, I am thinking of mothers. Two in particular were brought to life in one of the most inspiring sessions from our September conference. Lisa Kent, our Gabehart nonfiction winner, read from her beautiful memoir-in-progress about her mother, Death, Rock Me to Sleep, and Bridgett M. Davis read about hers in her memoir, The World According to Fannie Davis, also slated to become a major film, for which Bridgett is writing the screenplay. It’s going to be a long winter, and we are going to need provisions. As our holiday gift to you, I offer this recording of Lisa’s and Bridgett’s reading.

Louise Glück, Gayl Jones, and recordings from KyWomenWriters2020

Octoberr 30, 2020

Do not let the news avalanche of our time overshadow the thrilling fact that Louise Glück has won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature! Author of 13 collections of poetry and U.S. Poet Laureate in 2003–4, Glück is the first American woman writer to win the Nobel Prize since Toni Morrison in 1993. This is news that keeps on giving, as I make my way through these collections. In “October” Glück writes,

This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.

Surely it is a privilege to approach the end

still believing in something.

Evie Shockley's Life-Giving Words

KyWomenWriters2020 was extraordinary in many ways and foremost in its keynote reading by Evie Shockley, sponsored by University of Kentucky Libraries. After sharing poems from her brilliant 2017 collection, semiautomatic, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Evie segued to new, unpublished work. She read a poem that we couldn’t help feeling was a special gift to Kentucky, entitled (if I’ve transcribed properly):

“Breonna Taylor’s Final Rest, or The Furies Are Still Activists”

Covid Plot Twist? Q&A with UKNow

Recently I was interviewed by University of Kentucky publicist Whitney Hale for UKNow, which is also available at this link: https://uknow.uky.edu/uk-happenings/covid-plot-twist-virtual-format-lead...

UKNow: How and when did you decide to take this annual conference virtual? Did you ever consider canceling?

Wrinn: Our Board of Directors met in late April (on Zoom, of course) and decided to make it a virtual conference. That early in the pandemic, we were already having “uncertainty fatigue” and wanted to commit to making the conference happen virtually, somehow, details TBA. We never considered canceling. Many people know that ours is the longest running event of its kind in the nation — this is the 42nd annual conference — and we felt a responsibility to uphold that legacy, to encourage, lift up, and inspire women writers and readers, especially during a pandemic.

If You're Still on the Fence . . .

If you are still on the fence about attending this year’s Kentucky Women Writers Conference, now less than a week away, you may enjoy this interview with our Board president, Randi Ewing, who spoke to Eastern Standard’s Tom Martin on 88.9 WEKU: https://esweku.org/track/2455952/martin-ewing.

Darcey Steinke & Writing the Body

In these days of cloistering and virtual reality, it’s harder than ever to remember that we inhabit bodies in space and time, and that our physical experiences are worth writing about. As someone who loves reading and writing about both sports and dance (including this fascinating new essay by British author Clair Wills, “Stepping Out,”), I was especially excited to learn that our KyWomenWriters2020 presenter Darcey Steinke would be teaching a workshop for us on “Writing the Body.” Darcey describes this workshop as follows:

Join the Ky Women Writers Online to Turn “Lament and Upheaval” into Art

Our local newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, graciously offered space for me to share my thoughts about what it means to hold the conference during these unusual times. You will recognize the lede from an earlier blog post here! What follows is the text of my op-ed from August 14, 2020, also available at this link: https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article244914312.html.