June 7, 2017
There is opera, global responsibility and, of course, poetry at this year's West Chester Poetry Conference, June 7 – 10, at the Swope Music Building and the Performing Arts Center.
Free readings are open to the public two evenings from 8:15 to 9:30 p.m. in Ware Recital Hall. Readings on Thursday, June 8, are by conference faculty Robert Archambeau, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mark Jarman, Melissa Balmain, Moira Egan, and Leon Stokesbury. On Friday, June 9, listen to faculty poets Rebecca Foust, Frank Osen, Sarah Cortez, William Logan, Debora Greger, and John Whitworth.
Of particular note are two Saturday events, both free and open to the public.
For the first time, conference participants will be asked to examine how poetry can contribute to the greater good. Notes Conference Director R.S. "Sam" Gwynn, "Our aim is strictly non-partisan and apolitical. It will provide poets with outlets to lend their efforts to children's relief and will provide organizations a chance to promote their own efforts and to collaborate with established writers from the U. S. and abroad."
This first symposium focuses on international relief efforts for children and features Bhikshuni Weisbrot, president of the United Nations SRC Society of Writers. She is co-editor of an anthology of international poetry. Her three co-presenters are American poets with international backgrounds.
Shirley Geok-lin Lim leads the symposium. A naturalized citizen born in Malaysia, she is research professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was also women's studies chair. She was honored with the Multiethnic Literatures of the United States Lifetime Achievement Award.
Conference keynoter A. E. Stallings, who has lived in Greece since 1999 and has worked with refugee organizations there, is also participating. In addition to three collections of poems, most recently Olives, she has also published a verse translation of Lucretius, The Nature of Things. She has been a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow and the recipient of an NEA translation grant.
Philosopher, poet, and literary critic Emily Grosholz is the Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy, African American Studies, and English at Penn State, University Park. Grosholz has recently published an illustrated volume of poetry, Childhood, proceeds of which are donated to UNICEF.
The symposium runs from 10 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre in the Performing Arts Center.
On Saturday evening at 8 p.m., the public is invited to join conference attendees at an hour-long concert production of The Scarlet Letter opera. A collaboration between composer Lori Laitman and poet and conference faculty regular David Mason, it features WCU students and is conducted by Ryan Kelly, assistant professor of applied music and associate director of choral activities. It's being staged in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre in the Performing Arts Center.