NC Literary Hall of Fame




GREENSBORO—The North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference will welcome Brittingham Prize-winning poet Jennifer Whitaker, who'll lead the Master Class in Poetry.

The NCWN 2016 Spring Conference happens Saturday, April 23, in the MHRA Building at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Registration is now open.

Jennifer Whitaker is the author of The Blue Hour, winner of the Brittingham Prize and forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared in journals including Radar Poetry, New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Four Way Review. Originally from Midlothian, Virginia, Jennifer earned her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is an assistant poetry editor at storySouth. She currently lives in Greensboro, where she is Director of the University Writing Center at UNCG.

Applicants must apply for Jennifer's Poetry Master Class. In Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, she writes: "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow." Central to this workshop will be questions of audience, intention, and craft. Of course, the poet's intention matters insomuch as it is played out on the page, so the discussion will aim to focus (in part) on poetic form: How is the poem built? What is its strength? Is it most interesting for its tone, diction, metaphor, shape, narrative, movement? What makes a poem successful and memorable?

Other poetry sessions include "The Ars Poetica: Developing a Personal Vision" with Vievee Francis and "Writing the Autobiographical Moment in Poetry" with Matthew Olzmann.

Vievee Francis is the author of three books of poetry, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Second Book Prize), and the recently released Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press), which has been long listed for the PEN Open Book Award. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Prize and a Kresge Fellowship. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Best American Poetry (2010, 2014), Poetry Magazine, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, among others. She is currently an Associate Editor for Callaloo and a Visiting Poet at North Carolina State University.

At some point poets have all written a poem on writing poems. Sometimes such poems are written simply to explore or expose their own processes as they write, or to vent their frustrations over the challenges of writing poetry. The poem is made as much by the way they think (about poetry and at large) as how well they negotiate craft. In Vievee's workshop, registrants will do a writing exercise and take a close look at various examples of the ars poetica. Further, they will discuss how they might ultimately develop and articulate a larger aim, cultivating their attitudes, concepts, and the contextualization of their work “twig by twig” (as Archibald MacLeish wryly notes in his poem, "Ars Poetica") toward a comprehensive personal vision.

Matthew Olzmann is the author of two collections of poems: Mezzanines (Alice James Books, 2013) and Contradictions in the Design, which is forthcoming from Alice James Books in November, 2016. He’s received scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Kresge Arts Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, Necessary Fiction, Brevity, Southern Review, and elsewhere. He’s currently the 2015-16 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dinty W. Moore says, “It is not what happens to us in our lives that makes us into writers; it is what we make out of what happens to us.” In Matthew's session, "Writing the Autobiographical Moment in Poetry," attendees will examine how the autobiographical moment is most effectively presented in poetry and how that moment can be expanded to transform the speaker’s private experience into a personal experience for the reader as well. Through close readings of several poems, they’ll discuss successful strategies, and consider how those same strategies can be applied to their own writing. This will be a generative workshop. Registrants will write in class with the goal of producing drafts for at least two new poems.

Pr-registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Spring Conference ends Sunday, April 17. Register here!


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