Archive for Conferences

Blog Silence

Tomorrow I will be traveling to the ASA Conference in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  As I have mentioned before, I am super excited about this trip — I have never been to an ASA Conference before and I love multidisciplinary conferences.  I’m also super excited to go to the conference for another reason — I am going technology free.  Yep, no laptops, no access to computers.  (Okay, I’m bringing my cell phone — but trust me, it’s a very old model.  I can barely send text messages on it!)  Lately, because of work, I have felt tethered to my computer, so I’ve decided I need a break from technology — thus, my blog will be silent until I get back, and I won’t be responding to emails.  However, I will be back on Sunday!

Have a great week, and for those of you in the East, enjoy this great weather!

Dreaming of Chautauqua

This winter has brought us “unseasonably warm temperatures” with little to no snow.  Today, it’s sunny outside, and I’m even thinking of getting my bike out of the garage to take a quick spin around the block.  This morning, I swear I heard a robin (although I haven’t seen any robins yet!)  In short, with weather like this in February, it’s easy to dream about summer.  And it’s easy to dream about Chautauqua.

This year, the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival will be held on June 14 – June 17.  There’s a great lineup of writers including poets Martin Espada and Judith Vollmer.  Judith was my advisor and professor when I was an undergraduate at Pitt Greensburg, and I can’t wait to see her again! 

The regular summer sessions look great too!  Poets Marjorie Maddox, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Jim Daniels, Gabriel Welsch, and Julia Kasdorf will all be conducting workshops throughout the summer.  Take a look here for more information.

I know that most people who come to Chautauqua are local (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York), but the prices for both the festival and the workshops are very reasonable.  If you are looking for a fantastic writer’s vacation, consider trying one of these sessions!

ASA Conference

A few days ago, I received some great news — at the end of March, I will be reading with one of my favorite poets, Paula Bohince, at the Appalachian Studies Conference in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  Fans of the Scrapper Poet know how much I love Bohince’s work (and so excited that her next book, The Children, will be out in spring 2012!), so I’m thrilled (and a bit nervous, I must admit) to read with her!  The conference also holds other great writers including poets Maggie Anderson, Peter Oresick, and Lori Jakiela. 

This is the first time I have ever planned on attending the Appalachian Studies Association Conference, and I’m really looking forward to the event.  The Appalachian Studies Association is much like the Working Class Studies Association — that is, it’s an interdisciplinary conference, so there will be films, readings, panels about pedagogy and literature, plus panels concerning history and sociology.  I always love these kinds of conferences because I learn so many new things.

I don’t know how many readers I have in the Western/Central Pennsylvania area, but if you live in the area — I would think this is a conference well worth attending, even if you can only make the Saturday events!  Here is the link to the ASA’s website, along with the conference schedule. 

Fall Break

Will the real October please stand up?  This month started off cold and rainy — so cold, that I gave in and turned up the heat (because of high gas bills, I try to wait it out until November).  But now, this weekend has brought our Indian Summer — colors that make Pennsylvania the landscape of picture calendars.  Plus, it’s wonderfully, wonderfully warm outside.

I’m in the middle of JCC’s Autumn Break, and I’m trying to get some writing done.  I have been drafting almost everyday, but somehow can’t actually get a lot of my poems “done.”  Nevertheless, I did send out three submission packets last week.  Unlike most people — I don’t send out a lot of submissions in the fall, mostly because my schedule is always crazy busy.

In other news, my postal carrier has been very busy this week.  I got my contributor’s copies of Fourth River, the literary journal published by Chatham University’s MFA program.  My work joins poems by some of my favorite people, including Phil Terman, Todd Davis, and Judith Vollmer.  In general, the journal focuses on work that creates a strong sense of place — you may want to check it out!

I also got my regular copy of Cave Wall, one of my favorite literary journals.  Just a reminder:  October is when Cave Wall is open for submissions, so you may want to look at the full guidelines.   I also got the Fall 2011 copy of Midwestern Gothic, which features some great poems by poets Nancy Devine, Christina Olson, and Brandi Homan.  In fact, if you click here, you can read a great interview with Homan!

Finally, I found out that I will be reading my poems at the annual Appalachian Studies Association conference in March.  This year’s conference will be held in Indiana, Pennsylvania — a mere three hours from where I live (That is close — in rural Pennsylvania world).  I don’t know the details yet, but will keep you posted.

Now, it’s time to venture back outside to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Festival Wrap Up

I just got back from the 8th Annual Writers’ Festival at Chautauqua, and I have to say that this year’s festival was one of the best! I workshopped under Denise Duhamel and had a very lively group.  I got to meet a lot of writers and teachers of creative writing (that was a plus — I don’t get to talk to a lot of people about the teaching of creative writing, and I was able to hold conversations which revolved around such issues and questions as “Do You Have a No-Vampire Clause in your creative writing syllabus”?)

As always, the festival activities gave me a lot to think about — both in my own writing and my own teaching.  But one thought is really sticking with me.  George Looney, poet and co-director of the festival, told us, “Remember, you are all on the fringe.”  (I may be paraphrasing his speech a bit).  His words certainly rang true throughout the festival — I mean, where else (except with a group of writers) will you have engaging conversations about semicolons and commas?  About abstract nouns and concrete nouns?  About the shifts in point of view in a poem?  About the use of verb tense? 

And I suppose, with the state of the world, that these discussions may not seem that important.  Still, it’s nice to take time out of everyday life affairs to focus on these small details in writing — and make choices as if these “small” choices could change the world.



I’m in the middle of spring break here, but I haven’t really had much of a “break.”  I got back from PCEA yesterday, and I have spent a greater part of today thinking about how time changes.   I haven’t been to a PCEA conference in about 10 years, and back when I last attended, most sessions were geared towards scholarly work, which is fine, but sometimes hard to follow when one is a member of the audience.  This year, however, I was pleased to see the number of sessions geared towards creative works and pedagogy.  I ran into some old friends.  I got to meet writers Erin Murphy and Iris Jamahl Dunkle, (whose website appears to be down, so I linked to some of her poems) poets who are currently dabbling in creative nonfiction. 

Furthermore, I sat in on an excellent session on Saturday morning that discussed pedagogy.  One presenter talked about teaching humanities in a digital age; another talked about using Russian formalism to help children critically read texts, including Clifford and Franklin (I don’t have kids, so I was a bit surprised, but pleased, to find out that children read Clifford).  I found the second presenter’s mention of Vladimir Propp’s theories about folklore and fairy tales fascinating, and couldn’t help but think of Sandy’s latest discussion about fairy tales.

Overall, it was interesting to me how much discussion focused on technology and informational literacy. I am getting old, I am afraid, because when I first started attending conferences, technology was throwing a VHS movie in during class time or maybe using Power Point.  There’s so much out there, so much to learn.  It was pointed out that so many campuses insist that today’s students know everything about informational literacy and technology, which, as one presenter pointed out, simply isn’t true.  A young woman in the audience who said she was a student (undergraduate or graduate, I’m not sure.  She was probably in her early 20’s) said that she felt very overwhelmed about all the “technology” out there.  And just the other day, I had a whole bunch of students tell me that they wish teachers would go back to the chalk and blackboard and not use so much technology in the classroom.

Are we incorporating technology in the classroom because we believe that is what today’s students know or want?  How much is too much?  I’m afraid there are probably professors and teachers out there who use technology for the sake of using technology, and that’s it.  I know that I am not one of them (I still fumble with the DVD player in class).  I wonder what will change in another 10 years….

Dear AWP,

I’m sorry that I won’t see you this year.  It seems as if my time is too cramped, my life too busy.  The spring semester is always crazy — and this spring I am attending two other conferences. You always seem to get pushed out of the way.  I really would like to meet you face-to-face someday — I’ve heard  so much about you.

But, you are a bit expensive.  And I’m just a country girl, afterall.  I would get lost in the crowd.  I may even huddle in my hotel room, afraid to face the multitudes of writers. I don’t know the politics of AWP, and I’m not sure I would understand the inside jokes. 

Still, I would love to meet some people on my blogroll.  Or listen to some poets who just don’t make their way out to rural Pennsylvania or Western New York.  Maybe next year.  Maybe.


Karen J. Weyant

P.S.  To everyone attending this year’s conference: Safe and happy travels! I’m looking forward to hearing the updates and stories (and the poetry loot — don’t forget the loot!] I have preordered many of the books making their “debut” at AWP — so hopefully they will arrive in my mailbox soon.

Chautauqua Posts Summer Schedules

It’s cold and windy outside, but right now, snuggled in front of a computer with a cat in my lap, it’s easy to dream of summer, especially when Chautauqua has posted its summer schedules for poets and prose writers.  There’s a great lineup, with so many writers and workshops (although workshop descriptions have not been announced, yet) to choose from. 

More good news at Chautauqua: Denise Duhamel will be one of the poets at the Writers’ Festival held in June.  Duhamel is a poet whose work I admire very much, and I have always wanted to hear her read.  I was going to be conservative with money this year, but I may have to splurge a bit this summer!  (For those of you who don’t know much about the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, you should check it out — I’ve attended in the past and always had a great time.  Plus, I got to work with some great poets including Robin Becker and Maggie Anderson. )

Back Home

The Working-Class Studies Conference is an interdisciplinary conference — so I always come back from this particular conference feeling overwhelmed.  When I go to a conference in English or in Developmental Studies, I often know a lot of the material being presented — the sessions I attend are confirmations about what I am already doing in the classroom.  However, at the Working-Class Studies Conference I attended sessions by historians, activists, and teachers.  Probably the most interesting session (for me) was the session I attended yesterday morning where creative writing teachers talked about class in their creative writing classrooms.    I also got to attend a poetry reading by Judith Vollmer, Jan Beatty, and Peter Oresick.   Finally, I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time — which is always a plus.

My session went well, I think.  I spoke along with Paola Corso (Death by Renaissance — a great book you should pick up). Paola is working on a collection of poetry based on oral histories of those who worked in Pittsburgh.   As for my session — I did what I always seem to do and that is give way too much information for a 20 minute paper!  But that’s okay — I got some good feedback.

And the loot.  What can I say?  I think that I did my part in stimulating the economy — well, at least the part of the economy that encompasses the publishing companies.  You have to understand — I live in a very rural area and while we have a local Waldenbooks, I often can’t find what I want there.  So suddenly, here I am, in the middle of Pittsburgh surrounded by university and independent bookstores.  Not a good thing.  I picked up poetry books from C. Dale Young, Patricia Smith, Peter Oresick, Gerald McCarthy, James Reiss, Sarah Messer, Jeffrey McDaniel, Rebecca Reynolds, Patricia Henley, Michelle Tokarczyk and Greg Pape.  I also picked up a history book about Labor Wars.  But the book that will be the first work I pick up this weekend?  A book titled What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation edited by the South End Press Collective. 

So, today I will be recovering from the trip, unpacking, reorganizing, etc… It’s raining here in Western New York — so it really is the perfect day to stay in and get caught up with life.

Off to Pittsburgh

Tomorrow, I am heading to Pittsburgh to attend the Working Class Studies Association annual conference.  The conference schedule looks great — readings by poets Judith Vollmer (Judy is an old professor of mine), Jan Beatty, and Terrance Hayes; conference panels about class issues in academia; and sessions dedicated to working with class issues in the actual classroom.  My own paper is focused on working-class landscape in contemporary poetry.  As always, I picked a broad topic — I found out just how broad the topic really was when I sat down a few weeks ago to put my thoughts together.  To look at working-class landscape is to try to look at ALL working-class landscapes — factories, mining towns, lumber mills, service industries restaurants.  Plus, we must not forget that the homefront is often a working-class landscape!  So, finally, I had to edit my paper to discuss just factories and coal mining towns.  And then, I had to narrow down those two landscapes to specific regions of the United States (Coal mining in the East is, of course, very different than coal mining in the West). Finally, I had to mention only a few poets.  Really, the paper topic is more dissertation material than conference paper material!

I’m also looking forward to some down time.  Things have been a bit crazy since school finished, and I haven’t had a lot of time to work on my own writing.  I’m hoping to hang out in my hotel room at least one night and work on some revisions of some new work.

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