A Message from the Director

March 24, 2020

Welcome to our literary community! There are so many ways to become involved with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, foremost by attending the next conference, Sept. 17-20, 2020. Due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, however, we are postponing online registration until May 29, 2020, and providing penalty-free full refunds up until one week before the conference. The impact on our preview party and summer workshops is unknown at this time. Meanwhile, please consider signing up to receive our bi-monthly e-newsletter by emailing us at kentuckywomenwriters@gmail.com. If you have a manuscript to enter in our Betty Gabehart Prize, those entries must be submitted by June 1, 2020, at this link or postmarked by June 1, 2020. Applications for scholarships to attend the conference are also due June 1 and are described at this link.

Kentucky Women Writers is the longest running literary festival of women in the nation, launched by UK in 1979 to showcase the talents and issues unique to female writers. Authors like Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver, and 5 former and current U.S. Poets Laureate--Joy Harjo, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Louise Gluck, and Rita Dove--lead writing workshops, panel discussions, and readings for writers at all stages of development, who come seeking inspiration, fellowship, and practical advice about the publishing industry. Stipends for featured authors are a significant expense, and ticket sales cover a only a fraction of program costs, meaning everyone who attends is subsidized by the University of Kentucky and private support.

I became director of the conference in 2007 after serving for three years on its board. My background is in book publishing. During a decade in that business in Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of editing some of Kentucky's most beloved authors--Wendell Berry, Ed McClanahan, and Guy Davenport. Arriving in Lexington in 2002 already knowing these eminent Kentuckians was a happy coincidence for me. After all these years of residing in the Bluegrass, I better understand the rich sense of place that inspires its artists. Please see my August 2019 column in the Lexington Herald-Leader reflecting on the 40th anniversary of the conference.

KWWC is a national event, with typically 30-40% of conference registrants attending from out-of-state and a roster of national renowned writers hailing from throughout the U.S. We feature the work of women writers only, but we welcome men to our audiences. For readers we offer "non-workshop" registration that costs less and gains admission to all readings, panel discussions, craft talks, and publishing advice--which can be relevant not only for writers but also for anyone interested in editing and publishing.

About 500 individuals attend the conference each year. Daytime sessions attract 150 writers at all stages of development, and free evening events gather a lively community of readers. Most come seeking inspiration for new or ongoing projects, literary sisterhood, and practical advice about the publishing industry. Many are students or beginning writers; all are devoted readers. Great writers are book people. Modeling this lifestyle to young people, whether they are aspiring writers or enthusiastic critics, is an essential part of their cultural inheritance. We hope to see you in September!

Stay in Touch

To receive our bi-monthly e-newsletter, please contact us or email us at kentuckywomenwriters@gmail.com.