Panel Descriptions and Bios for all Conference Speakers
Morning Workshop with Tim Seibles
Imagery and Tone
This workshop will focus primarily on persona poems. Too often, we become hypnotized
by our own angst and first person view. This can make our work predictable and repetitive.
We will focus on writing persona poems, using a "mask" to generate surprising perspectives
and fresh tones of voice.
Tim Seibles, the newly appointed Poet Laureate of Virginia, is the author of several poetry collections
including Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, and Buffalo Head Solos. His first book, Body Moves, (1988) has just been re-released by Carnegie Mellon U. Press as part of their Contemporary
Classics series. His latest, Fast Animal, was one of five poetry finalists for the 2012 National Book Award. In 2013 he received
the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry. In 2014 Tim received an honorary
Doctorate of Humane Letters from Misericordia University for his literary accomplishments.
During that same year, he won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award for Fast
Animal, a prize given triennially for a collection of poems. In 2015, he chaired the
panel of judges that decided the winner of the National Book Award in poetry. He has
been a National Endowment for the Arts fellow and was also awarded a seven-month writing
fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts. In the spring
semester of 2010, Tim was poet-in-residence at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
His poetry is featured in several anthologies; among them are: Rainbow Darkness; Uncommon Core; Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry; Black
Nature; Far Out: Poems of The 60s; Villanelles; and With Our Eyes Wide Open. His poem “Allison Wolff” was included in Best American Poetry 2010 and, more recently, his poem “Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged” was featured in Best American Poetry 2013. He has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem, a writer’s retreat for African American
poets, and for the Hurston/Wright Foundation, another organization dedicated to developing
black writers. Tim lives in Norfolk, Virginia and is a Professor of English at Old
Dominion University where he teaches literature as well as classes in the MFA in writing
Creating Images in Poetry
Panelists will discuss how to create resonant images in your writing. The principles
of Japanese poetics, particularly through the tanka form (and by extension haiku),
will be discussed.
Moderator: Dawn Manning is the author of Postcards from the Dead Letter Office. Her awards for poetry include the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, the Edith Garlow Poetry
Prize, and the San Miguel Writing Award. Her poems have been published through Crab Orchard Review, Silk Road Review, Smartish Pace, and other literary journals.
The Creation of Womanist Futures: Content & Activism
This panel will explore how women of color (WOC) performance poets work to disrupt
oppressive systems on stage. Women of color performance poets navigate creative spaces
utilizing a womanist methodology for engaging in creative knowledge production and
activism. Alice Walker’s work will be used to define a womanist poetics. We will offer
an analysis of work produced by three Philadelphia based performance poets. The panel
will investigate performance poetry as a specifically gendered experience. We will
offer dialogue on the radical challenge their creative work offers against racist,
patriarchal, and hetero-normative ideologies. We will ultimately explore how WOC poets
set a foundation for identifying and grappling with the complexities of WOC’s agency
and resistance in the creation of womanist futures in a post-Obama administration.
Moderator: Tracey Ferdinand holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Ursinus College and a master’s degree in
Africana Women’s Studies from Clark Atlanta University. She is also a certified vinyasa
yoga teacher. Her writing inspires lifestyle transformations guided by self-love and
self-care. Her mission is to encourage women and girls to cultivate vibrant lives
by exploring creative wellness practices. You can visit her website at www.TraceyCoretta.com.
Afternoon Workshop with Lamont Steptoe
Economy of Language
This poetry workshop will focus on 'the economy of language' in the making of poetry
and specifically haiku, metaphor and simile, and rhythm and rhyme.
Poet, publisher, and photographer, Lamont Steptoe is the judge of the 2017 Philadelphia Stories Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry.
A Vietnam veteran born and raised in Pittsburgh, Steptoe is a graduate of Temple University’s
School of Communications. Winner of an American Book Award and a Pew Fellowship in
the Arts, Steptoe is the author of twelve poetry collections and editor of two collections
by his late mentor South African poet, Dennis Brutus. In 2006 Steptoe was inducted
into the International Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent by the the Gwendolyn
Brooks Center in Chicago. He has read his work in Nicaragua, India, Holland, France
and Lithuania. His most recent poetry collections are Crowns & Halos, Oracular Rumblings
& Stiltwalking and Meditations in Congo Square
Staying Productive and Creative: Writing Collaboration
Being part of a ready-made writing community keeps you writing. You have to turn in
stories, poems, new work for workshops; you have to read books and your peers’ work.
This keeps you engaged with canon and contemporary voices that will inspire you. As
the demands of family and day jobs drain a writer’s time away, it is difficult to
continue to identify as “writer” or “poet” when you haven’t actually written anything
new in months.
Community writing groups can offer opportunities for revision, edits, and reader
reactions. However, it can be difficult to find the right person or to establish the
relationship you need. This panel will also explore ways a writing partnership might
or might not work, and talk about the resources that are available in this digital
age - writing online, online submission trackers - that make collaboration even more
effective and within reach for you.
Moderator: Blythe Davenport
Marshall Warfield (of A Super Writing Group)
Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin, collaborative authors of Poems for the Writing: Prompts
Elizabeth Catanese and Darla Himeles, writing partners
Poetry in the Classroom
How do educators present 21st Century poetry, and how do students respond? How is
contemporary poetry presented to students? How do student poets respond to contemporary
poetry? How do educators remind students that poetry is a living and evolving thing?
How do students push instructors toward newer poetry? This panel will bring together
three poets to discuss the privileged position that 21st century poetry holds in their
classroom and why that position benefits students ability to both read and write poetry
more effectively. We will discuss different methods these teachers use and how these
methods shake-off established understandings of poetry and allow students to see poetry's
Moderator: Courtney Bambrick is Philadelphia Stories’ poetry editor. Her poetry has appeared at The Fanzine, Apiary, Certain Circuits, Dirty Napkin, Philadelphia Poets, Mad Poets
Review, and Schuylkill Valley Journal. Courtney teaches composition, creative writing, and literature at several area
Author and performance poet, Maria James-Thiaw lives in South Central Pennsylvania where she teaches writing and communication at
Central Penn College. Her poems have been published by Cutthroat Journal of the Arts, Black Magnolias Literary Magazine, One Trick Pony Review, Poetry Ink! and others. She is the author of 3 poetry collections and serves on the poetry board
of Philadelphia Stories. She is currently developing a choreo-poem based on The American Griot Project, an oral history featuring the stories of women who remember the Civil Rights era.
James-Thiaw lives in the Harrisburg area with her husband and two young sons.
Jeffrey Ethan Lee’s dramatic poetry book, identity papers (Ghost Road Press, 2006), was a 2006 Colorado
Book Award finalist. The CD audio version of identity papers (2002) was nominated
for a Spoken Word Grammy. His first full-length poetry book, invisible sister (Many
Mountains Moving Press, April 2004) is the sequel to towards euphoria, the co-winner
of the editor’s poetry chapbook prize from Seven Kitchens Press (2012). He won the
2002 Sow's Ear Poetry Chapbook prize for The Sylf (2003), and published Strangers
in a Homeland (chapbook with Ashland Poetry Press, 2001), and Color Schemes (chapbook
with Moonstone Press.) He has published hundreds of poems, stories and essays in North
American Review, Xconnect, Crab Orchard Review, Crazyhorse, Many Mountains Moving,
Crosscurrents, American Poetry Review, Green Mountain Review, Washington Square. He
has a Ph.D. in British Romanticism and an MFA from NYU. He teaches in the humanities
at TempleUniversity and in Creative Writing at various institutions.
Liz Abrams Morely's collection, Inventory, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Necessary Turns was published by Word Press in 2010 and won an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in
Small Press Publishing that year. Her poems and short stories have been published
in a variety of nationally distributed anthologies, journals and ezines, and have
been read on NPR. Liz is co-founder of Around the Block Writing Collaborative, (www.aroundtheblockwriters.org).
She has taught in Rosemont’s MFA program and teaches children at all levels. Liz wades
knee deep in the flow of everyday life from which she draws inspiration and, occasionally,