Julie Wrinn's blog

Sapphire Heights Opening Night!

November 7, 2019
Live theater is the most ancient of arts, and in a world awash with screens, we need more than ever to share time and space with actors and audience for a singular storytelling experience. That’s what you’ll find tonight and through Saturday, Nov. 9, at our world premiere production of Sapphire Heights. Sapphire Heights takes place in a London council flat, where newlyweds Billy and Angela are working on a plan to improve the lives of a group of Palestinian families, whom Billy befriended on a trip to the West Bank. Needing financial backing, the young couple decides to solicit Angela’s wealthy parents for the money but are forced to deal with the older couples’ old fashioned opinions and narrow world view. Over an afternoon in the tiny distressed flat and fueled by alcohol, political dissonance, and glaring incompatibility, the two couples’ secrets begin to reveal themselves.

Sqecial Media, Agnes Varda, Nicole Chung's cover design

September 6, 2019
Last year we welcomed a new sponsorship from one of my favorite stores in Lexington, Sqecial Media, and we’re grateful for their support again this year. Sqecial Media’s tagline is “books and curiosities," and this 2nd-floor treasure trove at 371 South Limestone does not disappoint: shelves upon shelves of silver jewelry, scarves, mobiles, paper lanterns, artisan greeting cards, candles, incense, soaps, and tobacco accessories. Sqecial Media is also the curator of one of Lexington’s coolest festivals, the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival, and lucky for KyWomenWriters audiences, this year they are highlighting the work of the French feminist new wave director Agnes Varda. One of Varda’s best known works is Cleo from 5 to 7, a 1961 film that screens at the Kentucky Theatre on the night before our conference opens, Wed., Sept. 18, 7 p.m., at the Kentucky Theatre. Read more about that and other films in the series here.

Jane Alison, Ashlee Clark Thompson, and Alice Speilburg

August 30, 2019
You may have noticed Darcey Steinke’s photo quietly disappearing from our website and Facebook page recently, and I’m sorry to say that it’s because she is unable to join us. Due to a back condition that will require surgery, Darcey had to cancel, and we hope to bring her in a future year. I was lucky to find an awesome replacement in Jane Alison, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. Jane will give a reading from her nonfiction novel, Nine Island, which “dramatizes the social invisibility of women who live alone past a certain age” (Alix Ohlin, New York Times), and she’ll also read from her memoir, The Sisters Antipodes. The latter is an example of fact being stranger than fiction: during her childhood, Jane’s Australian-diplomat parents bonded with another married couple who were U.S. diplomats, and the two couples ended up changing partners. Since we’re a women writers conference, I won’t say that the husbands traded wives, but rather, that the wives traded husbands!

Guest Column by Jan Isenhour

August 21, 2019
I’m not sure you can imagine how important, how revolutionary, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference was to me when it burst into town in 1979, but I’m going to help you try. I spent four years as an undergraduate English major. In those four years I was assigned exactly two books by women. The instructor for my two-semester British Literature class was a woman, the only woman I had during my time as an English major. First semester she assigned Jane Austen’s Emma; second semester, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. And in four years that was it. No poems or essays by women, no short stories. Modern American Novel? Alas, nothing by women.

Conference Celebrates 40 Years As a Place Where Diverse Women's Voices Are Thriving

August 16, 2019
Lexington’s nickname as the “Athens of the West” has been invoked many times in many contexts, but never so accurately as in the longevity of our literary institutions. We are a city of books, that knows how to support writers. The Kentucky Women Writers Conference celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and the University Press of Kentucky its 76th, both incredible assets to the community, state, and nation that the University of Kentucky has nurtured for many decades. Together with the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, celebrating its 27th anniversary this year, they provide a unique and thriving literary ecosystem that is the envy of many midwestern cities. Read more here: https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article234089712.html#storylink=cpy

Toni Morrison & Historical Fiction

August 9, 2019
The passing of Toni Morrison on August 5 at age 88 probably means millions of readers pulling her books from their shelves to find the underlined passages and re-live the power and beauty of her language. I know I did. Earlier this week, Democracy Now with Amy Goodman welcomed Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Angela Davis to speak on their friend’s passing. That episode is well worth a view on YouTube, and I was especially intrigued to learn about Morrison’s career as a book editor. Many of us have gotten to know Sister Sonia during her visits to Lexington for the series named after her, and it’s gratifying to hear her thoughts on Morrison.

Mariama Lockington & Sapphire Heights auditions

August 2, 2019
Some of the most eye opening literature on family comes from authors raised in a nontraditional configuration that sheds new light on the meaning of kinfolk. Transracial adoption is one of those configurations, and we’ll hear more about that at KyWomenWriters2019 from our keynote speaker, Nicole Chung, author of the award-winning memoir, All You Can Ever Know.

Antonya Nelson & 4 Tenacious Women

July 19, 2019
My first introduction to Antonya Nelson was on a New Yorker fiction podcast, that cozy club of New Yorker authors choosing each other’s backlist stories to read and discuss with preternaturally calm editor, Deborah Treisman. A chief pleasure of this podcast is how it showcases affinities among writers, and when Lorrie Moore reads Antonya Nelson’s "Naked Ladies," the shared sensibility is evident. Wry tragi-comedies in the domestic sphere, with a mastery of dialogue as revelation of character--if there’s a quintessential New Yorker fiction writer, it’s Antonya Nelson, who has published no fewer than 17 stories there since 1991. We’re thrilled to bring Antonya Nelson to this year’s conference, where she’ll give a reading and lead a fiction craft talk. It’s one of several sessions underscoring the value of the “$125 general admission without workshop” option. We know that our registrants return to KyWomenWriters year after year, and sometimes they’re not at a place in their work where they want to do a workshop. Craft talks with some generative exercises can get the juices flowing in a lower-key setting than the intensive workshops.

Alice Speilburg, Jane Friedman, & Gabehart Winners Announced

July 12, 2019
Paths to publication are markedly different for the three main genres represented at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. With fiction, you must wait until your work is complete: no agent or editor wants to speculate on an unfinished story. With nonfiction, however, a sample chapter and outline are often enough to earn a publishing contract. With poetry, the readership is smaller, meaning that agents cannot earn a livelihood by selling it, and you must approach editors directly.

For our annual look at what writers need to know about getting published, we are delighted to feature Alice Speilburg giving two talks at KyWomenWriters2019:
--Representationship: Manager, Editor, Therapist -- What To Expect from a Literary Agent, and
--First Page Critiques: How to Write the Opening that Publishing Pros Want to Read

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.

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