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News 2018

2018 WCU Poetry Conference: Meter, Rhythm & Blues with a CD Release Event by Al Basile

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News 2018

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June 4, 2018

2018 WCU Poetry Conference: Meter, Rhythm & Blues with a CD Release Event by Al Basile

At the 2018 West Chester University Poetry Conference June 6–9, discussion will focus on the craft of creating and critiquing formal poetry. Events will take place in Sykes Student Union on West Rosedale Avenue. Poetry Conference

Free poetry readings by the renowned conference faculty are open to the public on both Thursday and Friday evenings from 8:30 to 10 p.m. in Sykes Theater on the ground floor of the student union. Thursday’s readings are by Ned Balbo, Tara Betts, Emily Grosholz, Julianna Gray, Hailey Leithauser, Tim Liu, Catherine Tufariello, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, and Susan de Sola. Friday features Al Basile, Chelsea Rathburn, Annie Finch, George Green, Jane Satterfield, Michael White, Tony Barnstone, Amy Lemmon, and Kathrine Varnes.

Special guest poet/musician Al Basile will conduct a one-day workshop on the “Great American Songbook: Song Lyrics for Poets.” The singer-songwriter and cornetist has had a long career in blues circles where he has been nominated multiple times for Blues Music Awards. On Saturday, June 9, he will celebrate the June 15 release of his latest CD with a one-man performance of Me & the Originator (Sweetspot Records).

This year’s keynote speaker is Timothy Steele, a regular West Chester Poetry Conference faculty member. An emeritus professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles, where he taught from 1987 to 2012, Steele is the author of four collections of poems and two books of scholarship and literary criticism. Among his many honors are a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Los Angeles PEN Center’s Literary Award for Poetry.


Young and emerging poets are honored annually at the conference with the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards. Winners are invited to read their work at the conference on Wednesday, June 6, at 5 p.m.

Chad Abushanab was awarded the Donald Justice Prize for his unpublished manuscript Deliberately Lost. He is a doctoral candidate in literature and creative writing at Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas) and an associate editor at Iron Horse Literary Review.

Morgan Ome, Johns Hopkins University, won first place in the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award, created by Kean W. Spencer in honor of his mother, a reader and community servant. Ome is a rising senior double majoring in writing seminars and Italian. Emily Stepp, a rising junior at University of North Carolina at Asheville, won second place. Stepp is an English major with a concentration in creative writing.

Daniel Garcia, University of North Texas, was selected as winner of the Myong Cha Son Haiku Award. He is the current College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) national haiku champion. Runners up are Haley Beasley, West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas; Jemma Fisher, Sarah Lawrence College; and Yvette Ndlovu, Cornell University.

The Rhina Espaillat Award was again awarded to Alejandro Lemus Gomez, last year’s winner. Born in Miami to Cuban exiles, he is a senior at Young Harris College. He also won the 2018 Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival Contest in poetry. A second winner of the 2018 Rhina Espaillat Award is Mayra Arrevalo, Augustana College.

Visit the WCU Poetry Center’s Contests and Awards webpage to learn more about the awards, the winners, and their poetry.