The Poetry Center at West Chester University is gearing up for the 24th Annual Poetry Conference: SETTING OUT FOR THE SUBLIME: Voice, Verse & Craft. The conference is slated for June 5 – 8, 2019, and all events take place at the Sykes Student Union at West Chester University, 110 W. Rosedale Avenue. Information and details can be found at https://www.wcupa.edu/poetry.
The West Chester University Poetry Conference (WCUPC) is the nation’s only all-poetry writing conference dedicated to formal verse and is considered the premiere conference for formal poetry and versification. Hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “the nation’s most intellectually rigorous conference for poets,” the conference offers workshops in traditional poetic craft, and provides a national forum to discuss major trends in contemporary poetry.
This year’s Keynote Speaker is American poet, David Yezzi, who also leads a 3-day critical seminar on American master, Anthony Hecht. Yezzi authored Birds of Air, Black Seas and many other books of poetry. He is the former director of the Unterberg Poetry Center at New York’s 92nd Street Y and is now the chair of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
WCUPC Program Director, Jesse Waters, says, “West Chester’s poetry conference stands out among other writers’ conferences for its unique focus on the traditional craft of poetry and for the way it combines a writers’ conference with a scholarly conference. Writers, critics, and students mix together in a notably friendly and informal atmosphere.”
WCUPC attracts a diverse group of poets as both attendees and workshop leaders. Eight 1-day or 3-day workshops are offered on a variety of topics ranging from Song Lyrics for Poets and Stealing From Other Poets to Finding Your Form and Jumpstart Your Engines. Workshop Leaders are all published poets of national and international renown and include Yezzi, as well as: Robert Archambeau, Ned Balbo, Al Basile, Jericho Brown, Susan de Sola, George Green, Amy Lemmon, Shirley Lim, Jane Satterfield, J.D. Smith, and Kathrine Varnes.
Waters adds, “What makes this conference a ‘unicorn’ of an experience is its diversity in faculty and workshops to encourage engagement in formal poetry in a way that is exciting, passionate and progressive. Many people think poetry is old or stodgy, but at this conference, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
This year, a new pricing structure ensures affordability for both graduate and undergraduate students. Cost to attend ranges from $99 to $549, based on the number of programs attended and housing needs (housing is offered on West Chester’s campus for an additional cost.) Meals are included in the price of registration.
Waters says, “We want the dynamic and unique energy that a student population can bring and our new pricing structure reflects this priority. Formal poetry is just as viable to the younger generation, and it is ultimately this generation that will bring poetry into the future.”
The WCUPC also administers cash prizes to recognize excellence in poetry. The winner of the 2019 Donald Justice Poetry Award is Katherine Barrett Swett for her manuscript, Voice Message. Ms. Swett will have her manuscript published by Autumn Press and will receive a $1,500 cash prize. Additional award winners will be announced later in April. All award winners are invited to read their works at a celebratory ceremony during the conference.
The West Chester University Poetry Center was created in 2000 to further the study and appreciation of Poetry. The Poetry Center offers an active, interesting and diverse slate of activities, all to expand its mission of bringing poetry to an ever-widening audience. The Center’s signature event is the annual Poetry Conference, which offers workshops in poetic craft, and provides a national forum to discuss trends and recognize achievement.