Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hats off to Hub City! A few words about their Writing in Place conference

Last weekend's Writing in Place conference, offered by Hub City Writers Project and held at Wofford College, was the 13th annual one—and what a wonderful weekend it was. Betsy Teter, the brain and heart of Hub City, truly knows how to plan a conference. Lots of classroom time, of course, for the workshops focusing on writing something new in the particular genre—but also readings by faculty and workshop participants, casual receptions that gave us time to get to know one another better, a panel on publishing, and a couple of concurrent Sunday workshops on specific topics. Plus plenty of good food! 

In the poetry workshop I taught—“An Arrival of Poems"—there were 13 participants: talented, dedicated poets who came together in the spirit of not only writing new work but also encouraging the others in the class with their own writing. I felt lucky to have such a congenial, hard-working group gathered together for our three sessions. Thank you, poets! 

And thank you, Hub City, for this gift of time, as well as the chance for each of us to allow ourselves  to wander off in a new direction with our writing, to try something we don't yet know how to do--to risk sounding clumsy and maybe even silly—but ultimately to trust that eventually it's all leading somewhere we need to go.


Sunday, July 07, 2013

My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass is off at the printer's

I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas: my new poetry collection is at the printer's, with an official release date: August 15. So for me the countdown is on. My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass is a book that I began in 2007, poem by poem--not knowing initially that the poems were working their way toward a book. Before too long, though, I realized that there were a few core obsessions holding the poems together. In particular was the epistolary form that had gotten me started, short poems written to such friends and enemies as the constant bark of a dog, melancholy, the atamasco lily, and the loose wing of a dragonfly. In addition, the poems I was writing at the time kept returning to feelings and premonitions about the natural world; about what constitutes (for me) wonder, burden, and danger; about--what else?--love and death.

In 2009 I started circulating a completed manuscript, which went through additional revisions as it would come back, again and again, without a home. I knew I was getting close when the manuscript was a finalist for several contests, including The National Poetry Series, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and the Anhinga Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. Finally, last August I received the call I'd dreamed of. It came from editor Ruth Foley: the manuscript had won the Cider Press Review Editors Prize. I am most grateful to Ruth and editor/publisher Caron Andregg for their tireless, creative work in producing what I think is a gorgeous book. The cover art is a bromoil--an early 20th-century photographic stippling technique--by my brother Gene Laughter.

Please do visit CIDER PRESS REVIEW and enjoy getting to know their journal, as well as the books they publish annually. I'm now a huge fan!

Hub City Writing in Place conference, Jul. 12-14

It's less than a week until the annual Hub City Writing in Place conference. I can't wait! Invited to be the poet on faculty, I've been having fun putting a class packet together--called "An Arrival of Poems" and completed last night. The weekend conference workshops are for the purpose of generating new work, which is my kind of workshop.

The conference is held on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg. Other faculty this year include Wiley Cash, keynote speaker; Judy Goldman, Jim Minick; and Susan Tekulve. Betsy Teter is the director of Hub City and the conference. Check it out here. It may be the perfect jumpstart for your writing next year.

Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series: A joy to Coordinate!

Barbara G. S. Hagerty and I had a wonderful time putting together the Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series programming for the first time this year. We knew we were in for a big job, following in the footsteps of Carol Furtwangler, Coordinator for the Series for the past fifteen years. Carol was a tremendous help in getting us oriented and ready to go as the new Coordinators. The Series consists of ten evenings, Monday through Friday during the Picolo Spoleto Festival, of poetry readings by poets from the Charleston area and beyond. This year's Series featured the following talented poets:

Mon., May 27         William P. Baldwin
Tue., May 28           Lola Haskins
Wed., May 29         Edward Gold
Thur., May 30         Barbara G. S. Hagerty
Fri., May 31            Glenis Redmond

Mon., Jun. 3           Emily Rosko
Tue., Jun. 4            Randy Spencer
Wed., Jun. 5          Alice Osborn
Thur., Jun. 6          Henk Brandt
Fri., Jun. 7             Sandra Beasley

Much gratitude to all the fine poets who read, plus to the wonderful audiences who made it all worthwhile. We're already looking forward to the 2014 Series. Applications will be posted online this fall at the Piccolo Spoleto website .