West Chester University’s Poetry Center Launches New Virtual Poetry Conference for Teachers

Craft(ing) the Classroom: A Poetry and Pedagogy Conference Presents Virtual Events February 18 – 20, 2021Zetta Elliott

The West Chester University Poetry Center announces a new conference specifically for poets, scholars, and teachers who are interested in developing innovative approaches to teaching poetry. Craft(ing) the Classroom: A Poetry and Pedagogy Conference will present virtual events from February 18 – 20, 2021. Registration is now open and is FREE to undergraduate students. All other attendees pay between $30 -  $60 at https://www.wcupa.edu/arts-humanities/poetry/forms/craftTheClassroom/. 12 workshops are included with registration and attendees have the option to add 5 additional events at the time of registration.

The keynote speaker for the event is Zetta Elliott, whose workshop, “I Am Not a Poet: Mentors, Mantras, and the Door We Must Open,” will be presented at the conference.

Cherise Pollard, Director of West Chester University’s Poetry Center says, “For decades, teaching poetry has been an integral theme of the West Chester University Poetry Conference. This year, as we shift toward The C.R.A.F.T. Fest: WCU's Poetry and Creative Arts Festival, I thought that we could highlight Poetry and Pedagogy with its own event. This virtual conference offers something for everyone. We have an exciting lineup of local, national, and global poets who are K-16 teachers and scholars. The program is brimming with opportunities to connect and build community with like-minded poets, students, teachers, and scholars. Our Keynote Speaker and Featured Reader, Zetta Elliott's, timely work is garnering critical accolades. A Place Inside of Me has been highlighted with a 2021 Caldecott Honor, and Say Her Name (poems to empower) has been recognized by the YALSA for its 2021 Nonfiction Awards.”

Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. She has taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Her poetry has been published in New Daughters of Africa, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, the Cave Canem anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and her plays have been staged in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. She has written many books for young adults and youth including A Wish After Midnight and Ship of Souls, which was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award. Her YA novel, The Door at the Crossroads, was a finalist in the Speculative Fiction category of the 2017 Cybils Awards, and her picture book, Melena’s Jubilee, won a 2017 Skipping Stones Honor Award. Benny Doesn't Like to Be Hugged was a first-grade fiction selection for the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dragons in a Bag, a middle grade fantasy novel, was published by Random House in 2018; the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it a Notable Children’s Book. Its sequel, The Dragon Thief, was named a Best Middle Grade Book of 2019 by CBC Books. Say Her Name, a young adult poetry collection, was published in January 2020; A Place Inside of Me: a Poem to Heal the Heart from FSG was published in July of 2020.

Additionally this year during National Poetry Month, the Poetry Center will present C.R.A.F.T.: West Chester University’s Virtual Poetry and Creative Arts Festival, formerly known as the WCU Poetry Conference, from April 7 - 10, 2021. The keynote speaker is American poet, Molly Peacock. The conference’s theme is “The Healing Power of Empathy.” Visit wcupa.edu/poetry for additional information.

The West Chester University Poetry Center offers a variety of programs and activities that help expand its mission of bringing poetry to an ever-widening audience. Since its inception in 2000, the goals of the Poetry Center have remained consistent: furthering the study and appreciation of poetry, providing the nation's finest instruction in the diverse traditional techniques of poetry, providing an international forum for the discussion of poetic form and prosody, training teachers in the art of teaching poetry and poetic form, and fostering the necessary dialogue between practicing poets and critics in a culture that too often separates them. The Poetry Center also recognizes poetic achievement through the Iris N. Spencer Awards, which celebrate emerging poets at the undergraduate level, and through the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, which goes to an unpublished book-length collection of poems.





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