2022 Conference Update

The KSPS Conference was held October 8-9, 2022.

This year’s Kentucky State Poetry Conference, like last year’s, was a smashing success, with the twist that this year’s conference was available both online and in-person, centered in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University. The KSPS Conference drew 108 participants, with 24 presenters.

Conference presentations ranged from participatory workshops on writing erasure poems (led by Dave Harrity), to the liberating power and creativity that can come from list poems (led by NitaJade Jackson). Danni Quintos led an interesting discussion of chapbooks with panelists Morgan Adams, Lisa Low, Robin Rahija, and Britton Shurley, with Morgan comparing chapbooks to “mixed tapes,” and Robin stressing the need in chapbooks for a strong narrative voice to connect all the poems to a theme. In the panel discussion “The Art of Betrayal and the Craft of Precision,” the panelists read poems they had translated and talked about their own attempt at translating, along with the rewards and challenges they faced as translators. In the presentation  “Breaking Well-worn Rules,” presented by MFA faculty and students Tyler Vaughn Hayes, Jarek Jarvis, and Kate Nezelek, the participants read papers that explored their experiences and tensions resulting from their dual roles as graduate students and poets. Jay McCoy led the workshop “Inspired by Art,” about how the generative power of art—in all its forms—continues to inspire poets to this day.

Appropriately enough, the conference opened with a reading from women poets in Kentucky, featuring Olivia Cole, Marissa Davis, Kelly Norman Ellis, Ellen Hagan, Minda Honey, and Joy Priest. The participants read richly textured poems covering such topics as a mother’s passing (“Quilt in Frames,” by Joy Priest); along with a series written by Kelly Norman Ellis, from a collection (Saturday Class) about her teaching in Chicago in the Upward Bound Program.

Crystal Wilkinson crowned Saturday’s event by reading from her collection, Perfect Black, prefacing her reading with praise for KSPS for “creating a community of writers in Kentucky.”

For the younger (and older) crowd, there was the yearly poetry reading of the winners of the student contest, with the winners of the adult contest following. Kudos to Kelley Vance for all of her hard work with the student contest and Jeremy Paden for his taking charge of the adult contest. The KSPS Conference ended, much like last year, with two open mic readings, though this year they were both in-person (Tom Hunley and Cheryl Hopson leading) and virtual, featuring Tejaswini Sudhakar and Iris A. Law.

–Matt Birkenhauer

Thanks again to our 2022 sponsors:

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