Spring 2021 All Virtual Events
C.R.A.F.T.: Poetry and Creative Arts Festival presented by West Chester University
(Formally the WCU Annual Poetry Conference)
April 7-10, 2021
Molly Peacock - Keynote Speaker
The West Chester University Poetry Center is excited to announce C.R.A.F.T: Poetry and Creative Arts Festival, April 7-10, 2021. The theme for our inaugural gathering is The Healing Power of Empathy. Molly Peacock will deliver her Keynote Reading titled, The Poet's Vitamins: Nutrients for Writing and the Writer's Life on April 7th. She is also presenting a One-Day Workshop, Snap Sonnets.
For anyone who has ever reached a now-or-never moment in life, Molly Peacock’s craft studio, Snap Sonnets, will crystallize how poets seize that now-or-never crisis and drive it into fourteen lines with a turn—using a magic proportion of 8 to 6. Peacock will examine a classic sonnet, a contemporary sonnet, and she will also provide a cluster of individualized writing prompts--the Snap--for every attendee, whether you are brand new to the form or have written hundreds.
Molly Peacock is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Analyst, The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems. She is also the author of several books of prose and a memoir, Paradise, Piece by Piece. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and other leading literary journals. Among her honors are fellowships from the Danforth, Ingram Merrill, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. In Canada she is the series editor for The Best Canadian Poetry in English, and the Poetry Editor of the Literary Review of Canada.
Your Prose Poem's Delights: Narrative and Form (3-Day Workshop)
The prose poem is seldom viewed as a strict form, seeming to miss metrical scansion and rhyme. But it comes from a venerable poetic tradition that has been dynamically vitalized by many contemporary poets (e.g., Carolyn Forché, Jamaica Kincaid, Neil Gaiman, Rita Dove). Prose poems draw on rhythm, sound, imagery, figurative and rhetorical strategies---all the range of language play that distinguishes poetry from prose. Composing new works in the course of the three-day workshop, participants may also rework previously written poems, re-shaping and infusing these poems with other expressive values in the absence of stanzaic regularity to open the originals to a different narrative development.
Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s first poetry collection, Crossing the Peninsula, received the British Commonwealth Poetry Prize, first for a woman and Asian. She’s published ten poetry collections, most recently The Irreversible Sun, Ars Poetica for the Day, and Do You Live In? Her poetry has been widely anthologized; published in journals like the Hudson Review, Feminist Studies and the Virginia Quarterly; featured on television by Bill Moyers, in Tracey K. Smith’s Slowdown, and set to music as libretto for various scores performed at Oxford University, for example. “Learning to Love America” is regularly performed as part of the NEA Poetry Out Loud Program. Recipient of two American Book awards, the second for Among the White Moon Faces, of the Multiethnic Literatures of the United States Lifetime Achievement Award, Feminist Press Lifetime Achievement Award, and University of California Santa Barbara Faculty Research Lecture Award, she has also published three short story collections; two novels (Joss and Gold and Sister Swing); a children’s novel, Princess Shawl; and The Shirley Lim Collection. Her work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, Bahasa and other languages. Professor Emerita and Research Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, she served as Chair of Women’s Studies and as Chair Professor of English at University of Hong Kong.
Working the Beat: How to Make Poems Sing (3-Day Workshop)
It can be tempting to think of rhythm, meter, or form as a container, something outside
and separate from a poem. But the best poems sing with rhythms that move them as
innately and mysteriously as waves work the water. Whether or not you’ve written
in meter before, these powerful rhythms are there in your poems already. In this class,
we will trace the patterns that already move through your lines, whether in free verse
or form, and unpack the dynamics of the energies they carry. By working the beat,
you will have the chance to explore and connect with the deepest structures driving
your poems. You will discover voices you never knew you had—and a sure and instinctive
path to fresh and exciting revisions. Recommended reading: A Poet's Craft by Annie Finch.
Annie Finch is an award-winning feminist poet and writer. Her seven books of poetry include The Poetry Witch Little Book of Spells, Calendars (finalist for the National Poetry Series), Spells: New and Selected Poems, and an epic poem on abortion, Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams, which received the 2012 Sarasvati Award from ASWM. Annie’s books on poetic meter and craft include The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self and A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry (University of Michigan Press) as well as the anthologies A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, Villanelles, and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters. She is also the editor of Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Haymarket Books). Annie’s poetry has been performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and published in Poetry, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. She holds a BA from Yale and a Ph.D from Stanford and was awarded the Robert Fitzgerald Award for her lifetime contribution to the study of Versification. Known for her mesmerizing performances of her work, she has collaborated widely with artists in theater, dance, and music. She teaches poetry, meter, and scansion through her website and online community, and travels to teach and perform.
One Free Workshop Included in Registration
Vision and Line: An Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop (2-Day Workshop)
This generative writing workshop will focus on ekphrastic poems or poems that respond
to other works of art. Tara Betts will lead participants on a journey that explores the dimensions and depths of writing
about an artist’s work. Does it have a voice that speaks to you as the observer? What
are the stories that works of art can tell? What perspectives can the artwork assume?
In this workshop, we will consider reproduced images on paper, and ekphrastic poems
by writers such as Kwame Dawes, Carol Maso, Angel Nafis, Afaa Weaver, Laurie Ann Guerrero,
and others. If participants would like to do so, they can familiarize themselves with
pieces that they'd like to write about from virtual exhibits or works on the Google
Arts & Culture application.
Poem Plus Prompt (1-Day Workshop)
Poem Plus Prompt (PPP) is a bite-sized session designed to feed your writing practice! Each session includes a poem paired with discussion questions that will help us unpack significant craft elements. After our craft discussion, we’ll commit to a round of shared quiet writing time inspired by a related prompt.
Dilruba Ahmed is the author Bring Now the Angels (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), with poems featured in New York Times Magazine, Best American Poetry 2019, and podcasts such as The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith and Poetry Unbound with Pádraig Ó Tuama. Her debut book of poetry, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf Press, 2011), won the Bakeless Prize. Ahmed’s poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares. Her poetry has also been anthologized in Literature: The Human Experience; Border Lines: Poems of Migration; The Orison Anthology 2020; and elsewhere. Ahmed is the recipient of The Florida Review’s Editors’ Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Prize, and the Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship in Poetry awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Ahmed has taught with the MFA programs at Chatham University and Warren Wilson College. She also teaches classes online with Hugo House and The Writing Lab.
Poetry and Performance in a Pandemic (1-Day Workshop)
COVID-19 has changed the nature of poetry readings. Not only have public readings
been a near impossibility, we are facing what feels like a collective trauma. In this
workshop, we will re-imagine the concept of a poetry reading in order to meet the
needs of an audience under quarantine. We will also explore how we can take these
experiments and apply them to a post-pandemic world.
p.e. garcia is a Editor-at-Large for the Rumpus. Their work has appeared in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Hunger Mountain, and more. Currently, they are a PhD candidate in Rhetoric at Temple University.
Empathy in Expression (1-Day Workshop)
In this workshop, we will work to uncover the meaning of empathy in poetic and musical language. Using Aaron Taylor's song "Home" as a springboard, participants will craft personal pieces that engage with the wonder of understanding and caring for one another.
Wes Matthews is a Detroit-born, Philadelphia-based poet and essayist. His work has been published in 68to05, Scoundrel Time, Muzzle, and elsewhere. Wes served as the 2018-19 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate and received the Congressional Award for “outstanding and invaluable service to the community.” He is the recipient of the 2020 College Alumni Society Prize for his poetry and the 2020 Lillian and Benjamin Levy Award for his music criticism.
Poetry and Visual Arts Workshop (1-Day Workshop)
This workshop is designed to find your poetic voice to complement a visual piece of
art and to create a different narrative of what may be already formed or known for
the piece. Discussions about these images are meant to evoke emotions to encourage
originality: abstract expressionism, a photograph of the American flag taken January
6, 2021 at the capitol and a meme of Bernie Sanders. The end result is a graphic narrative
Christine Otis is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, the Community College of Philadelphia and the Art Institute of Philadelphia. A creative at heart, she is constantly producing narratives and stories through multiple mediums: photography, designing, painting, knitting, and writing and editing (not necessarily in that order, nor is this the full creative list). An Upstate New York native, she currently has found her roots in the sandy soil of Florida after uprooting from her longtime home of Philadelphia. You can follow her on Instagram otis_christine and check out her website www.christineotis.com.
Woven Words: A Poetry and Collage Workshop (1-Day Workshop)
Participants will write a poem, then transform it into a woven collage art piece.
Appropriate for all creatives (novice, moderate, accomplished), the workshop will
begin with a facilitated poetry exercise that focuses on empathy and compassion. Once
the poems have been written, participants will cut their poems into strips of paper.
They will then weave the strips together, adding additional materials, creating unique
and colorful patterns. The completed art piece will serve as a metaphor for reality;
that all beings are interconnected in beautiful and profound ways. All required materials
are commonplace items; participants are encouraged to utilize repurpose materials;
old magazines, t-shirts, etc.)
Imani Tolliver is an award-winning poet, artist, educator, and public speaker. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and served as Poet Laureate for the Watts Towers Arts Center. She has also been recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her work as a promoter, host, and publicist in support of the literary arts in Southern California. An interdisciplinary artist her entire life, she is a collagist, dollmaker, jewelry-maker and has recently fallen into the wonderful world of watercolor. As the Cultural and Fine Arts Supervisor for the City of Buena Park, CA for over a decade, she successfully developed and oversaw a wide portfolio of arts and cultural programming that was responsive to the needs of a diverse community. Programs included art festivals, concerts, youth and community theatre, cultural excursions, and special city events.
Panel Presentations and Select Readings - Included in all registrations
Poetry in Fractious Times: A Conversational Interview with Rhina P. Espaillat
Presented by Nancy Kang, Silvio Torres-Saillant, and Rhina Espaillat
As co-authors of The Once and Future Muse: The Poetry and Poetics of Rhina P. Espaillat (2018), Kang and Torres-Saillant will query Espaillat on the power of poetry to enable a mutual recognition across differences that seems to confirm rather than deny our common humanity. Espaillat will have occasion to speak on the role of craft in building bridges across languages, belief systems, ways of knowing, ancestries, and phenotypes, among others
Reading: Empathic Poetics
Ioana Cosma reads from The Psychogeography of Love which focuses on empathy, attention and care for the surrounding world, and the lives of the ones left aside.
Sujash Islam Purna will read poems that chronicle his journey of an immigrant who comes to the US and discovers the complexity of his identity reflected in his evolving relationships with people and places. The poems acknowledge the nostalgia for his home and also his sense of understanding the socio-political climate he finds himself in. “Dhaka” is a collection of poems with each depicting a facet of the immigrant identity of the poet who also struggles with language barrier and odd syntactic choices.
Singing Our Grief: A Collaborative Reading and Performance
Presented by Carrie Green and Scott Whiddon.
In this multi-modal presentation, Carrie Green will read ekphrastic poems and present slides of the illustrations her poems reflect on while her partner, Scott Whiddon, accompanies her with live ambient music. Green’s debut book, Studies of Familiar Birds: Poems (Able Muse Press, 2020), explores how art, empathy, and the close study of the natural world can help us survive and heal from loss. Many poems in the book are about the series of nest-and-egg illustrations that Virginia Jones saw to completion after her daughter, who had begun Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio (1886), died suddenly at the age of 32. Green turned to this story as a way of understanding her own grief over the death of her father. Both Green and Whiddon have released work throughout the pandemic to maintain connection with others and to sustain their creative practice.
Rise Up, Go, Ladies! Remaking Ballads
Presented by Anna Lena Phillips Bell
If traditional ballads helped their singers and listeners to survive, what do they offer now that’s worth keeping, and what of them should be set aside or transformed? Smaller Songs, a sequence of poems made entirely from word and phrase banks transcribed from the footnotes of Robert Graves’s English and Scottish Ballads, attempts to answer these questions. This presentation will include a reading from Smaller Songs, released in 2020 as a letterpress-printed chapbook from St Brigid Press; the performance of an Appalachian ballad; and the performance of a poem from Smaller Songs set to music by Allen Phillips Bell.
Dementia and Form
When a painful subject seems “unwriteable,” the key to creating the poem of healing through empathy lies not in words but in rules. This presentation features work that demonstrates the value of fixed and nonce forms to one of the most “unwriteable” subjects: dementia. Because no dementia patient can articulate with awareness what they go through, and family members only experience the illness indirectly, a poet writing about dementia becomes a translator, with all inherent challenges. The included poems represent a breadth of forms whose elements replicate experiences of dementia to evoke empathy for sufferers and healing for all.
Reading: Empathic Poetics
Crystal Hurdle, Steven Salmoni, Meg Shraedley
#WordsForResilience: A Community Literary Project Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic
In May of 2020, Oakland University’s Center for Public Humanities launched #WordsForResilience, a social media literary project featuring both new original creative work and favorite literary quotes. #WFR editor Katie Hartsock will discuss the scope of the project, and its aim to engage the pandemic and its effects on our world through the beauty and power of language. Student contributors to the project Christiana Sinacola, Sharese Stribling, Malaena Caldwell, and Caitlyn Ulery will read their work and address the importance of literary expression and connections for young writers in the time of Covid.
Frederick Feirstein: Empathic Artist and Healer
Chaired by Claudia Gary with Emily Grosholz, David Katz, Molly Peacock, and Frederick Turner
Join panelists as they honor poet, playwright, and psychoanalyst Frederick Feirstein who was a co-founder of the Expansive movement in poetry, along with Frederick Turner and the late Dick Allen. Feirstein’s 1981 verse novel “Manhattan Carnival” still stands as an exemplary work of contemporary metrical narrative.
Isolation and Conversation
Presented by Chris Vogt-Hennessey. The project, Isolation and Conversation, began as a way to have conversation despite the separation between us this past year. Reaching for art, whether in language or image was a way to just connect: a through line, a thread, a rip cord. In this festival session poets will read the poems that have sparked a series of mixed media artworks that range from abstract to figurative to representational. We will also have the opportunity to generate new content in dialogue and inspired by what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling during the presentation. If desired, please bring a few simple tools with you for writing and/or mark making. A few ideas: pens, crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. There will be poems, art, music, conversation, and community.
Artist Talk: Pagan Forest
Jennifer Coates show is titled "Pagan Forest" and in her own words, "explores representations of animals and humans in the landscape." Different periods in art history serve as inspiration as well as Coates’ personal experience spending extended time in the woods of rural Pennsylvania. "The paintings strive towards a utopian impossibility and point to the past. The toxic palette has a histrionic, fevered menace to it. All is not exactly well in these pastoral settings."
Panel: Empathic Understandings
Representations of “Comfort Women” and Ekphrastic Poetic Responses with Maureen Fielding
Empathy in Academia: A Teacher’s Sacred Duty with Stephanie Robinson
Great American Songbook
This panel, the fourth in a series which began in 2017, explores the careers and styles of lyricists who produced the Great American Songbook in the middle of the last century, with an emphasis on how the way the public was exposed to popular songs – from sheet music to radio to musical theater to songs in movies – conditioned the way songwriters worked. This installment presents, with musical examples, the work of Carolyn Leigh, Frank Loesser, and Stephen Sondheim . Presented by Al Basile with Wightman Martindale.
The Healing Power of Empathy
Amanda Koenigsberg will present three original works, all of which center upon various forms of grief (i.e. Alzheimer’s, miscarriage, and estrangement due to addiction). In these works, empathy acts as a key to unlocking and processing loss. For creative writers, imagination, meaning, and depth, all, sometimes unknowingly, result in profound and resonant empathy. By way of these three works, attendee will explore the ways in which, writing grief though poetry is inherently rooted in empathy and results in a deeper connection between reader and writer.
Hannah Keziah Agustin created a documentary poetics zine titled archipelagic apparitions that explores different threads of diaspora through the compilation of historical and personal artifacts. Intertwining five thematic threads: historical investigation of the relationship between Western Imperialism and the Filipino Diaspora; her family’s immigration narrative; how other Asian writers have worked through issues of absence, distance, and disconnection; letters to ghosts, to those that are both there and not there, to that which is both there and not there, and Photographs of ghosts this project is an extended and elaborate visual and literary work.
Feeling Across Distance
Chaired by Lesley Wheeler with Lauren Alleyne, Talifisha Edwards, Luisa A. Igloria, Jane Satterfield
Join panelists as they discuss poetry that bridges geography, time, opposing perspectives, and even species boundaries. Migration can divide us from families and cultures, history is full of gaps, yet poetry is an art of presence in absence. It can create space for contemplation of loss but also for connection despite difference. Panelists will discuss desire for contact and understanding as motives for poetry, then read some of their own work addressing this theme.
Kim Bridgford Memorial
An Amaranthine Summer is an anthology dedicated to the late Dr. Kim Bridgford, edited and Introduced by Shane Warren and Ryan Wasser. Guest readers include William Conelly, Barbara Crooker, Charlotte Innes, Jean Kreiling, Pat Valdata, Joyce Wilson, and others.
Reviews of manuscripts will be available by Anna Lena and Luke Stromberg. Once registered, reviewer and registrant will be connected to discuss length of manuscript pages and set up time to review.
Anna Lena Phillips Bell
Anna Lena Phillips Bell is a poet, teacher, editor, printer, and the author of Ornament, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize. Her artist’s books and print objects include A Pocket Book of Forms and Forces of Attention. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in magazines including 32 Poems, Colorado Review, the Southern Review, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, International Poetry Review, and Quarterly West, and in anthologies including A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene, and Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change. Bell is the 2019–2021 Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for Eastern North Carolina, and is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship in literature. She teaches in the creative writing department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and is the editor of Ecotone, the literary magazine that seeks to reimagine place, and Lookout Books. She formerly served as senior editor for American Scientist, for which she remains a contributing editor. She calls ungendered oldtime Appalachian square dances in piedmont North Carolina and beyond.
Luke Stromberg's poems and criticism have appeared in Smartish Pace, The Hopkins Review, The New Criterion, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Golidad Review, The Raintown Review, The Dark Horse, Cassandra Voices, and several other venues. He also serves as the Associate Poetry Editor of E-Verse Radio. A graduate of West Chester University, Luke is the winner of the 2007 Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award and has been involved with the WCU Poetry Center both as a participant and coordinator for the conference for many years. Luke works as an adjunct professor at Eastern University and La Salle University and lives in Upper Darby, PA.
Show Us Your Papers
Enjoy Show Us Your Papers, an anthology edited by Daneila Buccilli, Wendy Scott Paff, and Cherise Pollard.
Show Us Your Papers speaks to a crisis of identity and belonging, to an increasing sense of vulnerability amid rapid changes in the USA. While corporations wait to assign us a number, here are 81 poets who demand full identities, richer than those allowed by documents of every sort. Here are poems of immigration and concentration camps, of refugees and wills, marriage and divorce, of lost correspondence and found parents, of identity theft and medical charts. In an era where the databases multiply, where politicians and tech companies sort us into endless categories, identifying documents serve as thumbtacks. They freeze the dancing, lurching, rising and falling experience of our lives. The disconnect between our documents and our identities is inherent, reductive, frustrating, and, too often, dangerous. Yet we cannot live without them. In this anthology 81 poets offer a richer sense of our lives and histories—richer than any “official paper” allows. These lyric and narrative forms demand that readers recognize our full identities: personal, familial, national, and historical.
Documents are fault lines where power and racism inscribe otherness, where governments inflame and enact anxiety about whiteness and “otherness.” They denote belonging, and exclusion. We trust in the safety they promise, only to discover the same authorities that issue them can rescind them, deny us, refuse to look at them. Identifiers such as driver’s licenses have never reflected the lived experience of black and brown men and women when they encounter police. No paper trail. No court cases. No opportunity for justice. A new form of documentation was necessary to make cultural change possible. Only when citizens began using their cell phones to document transgressions by police was evidence of police violence created. Without video evidence, state-sanctioned documents would offer the general public no trace and no justice.
Here are 81 poets and 3 editors who refuse to fear one another, to be divided by an administration that seeks to foments and benefits from hate. We refuse to be reduced to the categories “our papers” indicate. While difference exists among us, in cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and experiences, we give no one, least of all governments, corporations and institutions, the power to reduce, divide, or estrange us. These poems are bridges across a two-dimensional landscape of numbers, indicators, and limited categories. Come join us in crossing them. Let’s meet in a space where documents do not define us.