Few Slots Remain for Poetry Workshops With Kathleen Driskell, Angela Ball

By Whitney Hale

(Aug. 27, 2015) — Kathleen Driskell, the Kentucky poet behind the new collection, "Next Door to the Dead," and award-winning poet Angela Ball are among the featured presenters at this year's Kentucky Women Writers Conference being held Sept. 11-12, in Lexington. A limited number of spaces still remain for workshops with Driskell and Bell at the celebrated literary festival.

Kathleen Driskell’s newest collection "Next Door to the Dead," published by University Press of Kentucky, was just released this month. In the book, the poet found herself irresistibly contemplating life, death, grief and loss when her family moved into a disused church in Louisville, Kentucky. Next to their new home was a cemetery with 112 residents whose stories and secrets simply could not stay buried.

Through Driskell's imagination, the lives and afterlives of the deceased come into vivid focus. The living are not forgotten in this thought-provoking collection either, as there are numerous poems about mourners, the people who maintain the grounds, the nighttime parties of trespassing teens, and even the “dark congregation” of birds that perches ominously on headstones. Composed with both surprising humor and riveting profundity, Driskell's poems compel the reader to examine his or her own mortality, as well as how he or she impacts the finite lives of those around them.

Driskell's poetry collection "Seed Across Snow" (Red Hen, 2009) was listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation. In 2012, she published "Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem," a long-poem in comic book form. In addition to her published collections, Driskell's poems have appeared in many nationally known literary journals including Poems and Plays, the Southern Review, North American Review, RiverStyx, Shenandoah, Greensboro Review and Rattle, as well as featured online on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and in American Life in Poetry.

An Al Smith Fellow, Driskell's work has been anthologized in "What Comes Down to Us: 20 Contemporary Kentucky Poets" and "The Kentucky Anthology." She is a past regular contributor to WFPL 89.3 FM, an NPR affiliate in Louisville, where she still lives with her family. Driskell is a professor of creative writing and associate program director of the brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University.

As part of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Driskell will present a workshop titled "One Poem, Two Attitudes: Understanding the Tension between Drafting and Revising Our Poems." Driskell will lead participants in two phases of the creative progression, the crafting of a poem and the revision process. The workshop will run from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning

Angela Ball is professor of English in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is the author of five poetry collections, including "The Museum of the Revolution: 58 Exhibits," "Possession," "Quartet" and "Night Clerk at the Hotel of Both Worlds" (winner of the Donald Hall Award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs), as well as two chapbooks.

Awards for her work include an individual writer’s grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Arthur J. Schiable Award in the Humanities from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; invitations to represent the U.S. at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam and the Poetry Festival of Bogotá; a residency at Chateau Lavigny in Switzerland; and a semester as Poet-in-Residence at the University of Richmond. Ball's work has twice won the Poetry Prize from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and twice received grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Ball's work has been featured in "Best American Poetry," on "The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor" and has been frequently anthologized. Many journals have featured her poems and translations including Field, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, the New Republic, Poetry, Grand Street, Partisan Review and The Atlantic Monthly. For 32 years, Ball has served as poetry editor for Mississippi Review. She has been named the Distinguished Moorman Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi for 2013-15.

Ball will present a workshop titled "The Obstructions" at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Ball and her workshop participants will look at one or more obstructions for the poet to use in revising. The second day will be devoted to critiquing the obstructed poems. Ball's workshop will run from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12, at the Carnegie Center.  

In addition to their poetry workshops, Driskell and Ball will give a reading together for conference registrants beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the Carnegie Center.

To enroll in the conference, conference registration must be purchased in advance. A listing of the events' times and dates can be found here: http://womenwriters.as.uky.edu/itinerary. For more information and to register, visit www.kentuckywomenwriters.org.

Now in its 37th year, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference is an annual event known for bringing notable women writers to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions. A program housed in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is made possible in part by continued community partnerships, including its primary venue, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Registration for the conference is open now.

For more information on the conference or the Kathleen Driskell and Angela Ball events, visit online at www.kentuckywomenwriters.org.

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