Julie Wrinn's blog

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If you are an emerging writer with unpublished work and a yen to attend the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, you should consider submitting to our Betty Gabehart Prizes.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

Keynote Speaker Unveiled! Nicole Chung

As a child Nicole Chung wanted to believe the story she was told about her biological family, that they had loved her and given her up for adoption only out of necessity. “This may be all you can ever know,” her adoptive mother told her. That cryptic decree did not ease the dislocation Chung felt as a Korean girl in a mostly white, Catholic community in small-town Oregon, and in adulthood she began a quest to learn more. Chung’s memoir, All You Can Ever Know, is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (tba March 14!), and as keynote for this year's Kentucky Women Writers Conference, she’ll discuss her circuitous path to publication and the importance of reading underrepresented narratives. Many thanks to our longtime sponsor, the University of Kentucky Libraries, for their support of this event.

The Slowdown, KyWomenWriters2019, & Lists Galore!

Have you heard Tracy K. Smith’s podcast, “TheSlowdown”? It’s the best new thing on the radio. Each 5-minute episode features the U.S. Poet Laureate reading aloud and interpreting a poem of her choosing. We were fortunate to host Tracy in 2014, and she in turn has featured some of our past presenters’ work on the podcast: Tarfia Faizullah (episode 11), Patricia Smith (19), Ada Limón (27), and Franny Choi (32).

Mark your calendars: KyWomenWriters2019 will take place on September 19–22, and registration will begin on April 1, 2019. Since we’re not ready to unveil our roster of conference presenters, however, it seems like a fine time to look back at what some past presenters have accomplished in the years since they came to our conference. See below. I know I’m leaving out a lot, so please consult the full list of KyWomenWriters presenters since 1979 here and reply to me with additions. We rarely invite authors back for a repeat visit—unless they’re Kentucky authors, or unless they’re Sonia Sanchez (!)—so you’re unlikely see these women again at our conference. Let that be motivation not to miss future conferences!