Bridgett M. Davis, Jamey Temple, and the Betty Gabehart Prizes

April 24, 2020
I was driving Mary Gaitskill to the airport after KyWomenWriters2018 when she mentioned her new favorite author. A nervous person whose heightened sensitivities seem linked to a deep empathy for the flawed characters of her fiction, Mary was visibly uncomfortable in my old car. When the mysterious thumping noise in the dashboard began, always triggered by turning off the AC, Mary asked, “What is that noise?” “I wish I knew,” I replied. It was a short drive from her hotel to the Bluegrass Airport, and we didn’t have time to say much, but Mary especially wanted me to know her most ardent author recommendation for a future conference: Bridgett M. Davis. Mary had read Bridgett’s memoir in galleys and loved it. Knowing Mary’s penchant for characters who operate outside social conventions, I knew I had to look up this author. The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers gives an indelible portrait of a woman who supported her family in 1960s Detroit through a successful lottery operation. Best-selling novelist Tayari Jones is also a fan: “Bridgett M. Davis draws a loving portrait of her unforgettable mother who gamed the system and won. Davis is a witness to the journey of the African American strivers of Detroit. Combining rigorous research with an insider's access, The World According To Fannie Davis is a triumphant tale of female empowerment.”

Bridgett M. Davis
And so, I’m thrilled to announce that Bridgett M. Davis is coming to KyWomenWriters2020 to teach a nonfiction workshop, “Memory As an Act of Imagination.” Davis writes:
How do we craft the truth and ensure that it reads like compelling fiction, without resorting to making up things? How do we heighten reality? And how do we ensure that our true stories have resonance beyond our own lives?  Memoir relies on memory, but as Toni Morrison described it, the act of imagination is bound up with “emotional memory—what the nerves and skin remember, as well as how it appeared.” In this workshop, we’ll free ourselves to conjure emotional memory, and through a series of exercises, imbue it with both drama and meaning.
For a tender portrait of another maternal figure, I urge you to read this moving remembrance of June Hill written by her granddaughter, Jamey Temple, in the Louisville Courier-Journal. A poet and professor at University of the Cumberlands, Jamey has attended our conference in past years, and in this piece she lyrically evokes the unique pain of losing someone during the strictures of this pandemic.
Finally, we are now accepting submissions of unpublished work for our Betty Gabehart Prizes in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The prize will recognize and support three emerging writers who show potential for excellence in their literary endeavors. Winners receive a $300 honorarium, the opportunity to give a reading during KyWomenWriters2020, and full tuition support to attend the conference. You may submit online or by mail, and the entry fee is $10. Visit for details.
            I wish you continued health, safety, and stamina as we carry on through the middle portion of the story of Covid-19, not knowing when the denouement will arrive.
Yours truly,
Julie Wrinn, director
Dates for KyWomenWriters2020 will be Sept. 17–20, 2020, and registration will begin on May 29, 2020. For more information, please visit our website or call 859-257-2874.
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