Alabama Writers Conclave
newsback.jpg

Blog

What’s happening in the Alabama writing world…

A conversation with 2017 AWC Writing Contest winner, Chervis Isom.

1. What led you to write your first place winning nonfiction piece, “The Stray Cat?”

“I think a lot about memory, not because I have a lot of memory to think about but because my memory bank is so shallow, as shallow as a pond on the pavement after a spring shower. I was trying to remember my earliest memories, and I think my earliest memories were of my age four. This story is perhaps the only memory that stood out as something more than a moment, something that might support a story. So I wrote it recently and I liked it, I liked how I could tell the story and express what I learned from the story, how I grew from what I learned, and to me that is the beauty of the memoir as a form of writing art.”

2. Are you inspired by a particular nonfiction writers or essayists?

“I love the memoirs of Patricia Hampl. She wrote at least four memoirs, each following a different arc or theme of her life. She proved to me that a non-fiction writer could have an impact in creative writing even more than a writer of fiction, and could be just as effective.”

3. How do you balance the need to protect the privacy of loved ones against the passion for telling a good story?

“In my memoir, The Newspaper Boy, I put a note or disclaimer in the front of the book indicating that I had changed some names for obvious reasons. I think that’s all you can do if you want to write about those characters.”

4. What inspired you to write your beautiful first-place-winning poem (which is also, uniquely, a prose poem)? Is poetry a new medium for you? What do you like about it? Why?

“Maybe I’ve spent too many years focused on my work and never opened up my trunk of memories until now… When I lift the lid all I find are scraps of thread scattered here and there, the fabric of the memory having long before dissolved. I have only skeletal memories and I’ve tried to write about a few of those things. Poetry is an ideal medium for skeletal memories, particularly if there is a lesson to be learned or a question to be explored.”

5. What poets have freed or inspired you to write in earnest, or, borrowing Emily Dickinson’s expression, to “tell it slant”?

“My friend Barry Marks is a fine poet and his poems come in all forms and styles and cover a broad range of topics, both mundane and philosophical. I’ve learned a lot from him and his discipline in writing about every conceivable experience. As for a historical poet, I think Emily Dickinson is most impressive. She wrote for years with no publicity and, so far as I know, no encouragement or social contact with other poets for support. Yet her poetry is fresh and original and uniquely inspiring.”

6. Why does poetry matter in our modern commercial culture?

“Poetry is the medium for expressing the truth in a few well selected words designed to please the hearer’s ear, to seize the hearer’s heart, to squeeze tears from the hearer’s eyes. The truth, the emotional truth, that is what matters, and poetry is the medium to achieve it.”

Breathing Life Into Your Creation

A workshop with Kimberly Cross Teter.

You know those characters living in your head? You think you know them, but do you really? Maybe they have a few surprises for you! We’ll take a look at not only putting flesh on the bones of the characters in your work but also putting meaning and motivations in their hearts and minds. Interactive writing exercises will bring you to a deeper level of creating multi-dimensional characters who will come alive for your readers. Whether you have a work in progress or a brand new idea, this workshop will help you strengthen your character development.

KIMBERLY CROSS TETER, a proud Texas native, is a teacher and traveler by nature and a writer by happy choice. Kim completed her debut novel, Isabella’s Libretto, in the Middle Tennessee State University Write program (then known as The Writers’ Loft) in 2013. The next year this YA historical novel was published by longtime AWC member Linda Busby Parker and Excalibur Press of Mobile, AL. Since then, Kim has traveled from coast to coast to speak at literary festivals, conferences, and special events. Visiting schools, however, is her favorite gig!

Kim is an active member of the AWC, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a graduate of West Texas A&M University and now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with a wonderful husband and two feisty canine kids. Three grown human kids have brought her immeasurable happiness — and two grandbabies!

Learn more about Kim at her website.

To attend this workshop — and many others — please register for the 2017 AWC Writer’s Conference. We look forward to seeing you there!

Authors Weiland, Ezell, & Kidd

Join us at Grace Aberdean / This Ol' Thing, Sunday March 11, at 6:30pm, as we celebrate 3 published writers! Shanti Weiland Laura Hendrix Ezell and Jessica Kidd will all read from their selected works!

Shanti Weiland
Shanti Weiland’s book Sister Nun is the 2015 winner of the Negative Capability Press Book Competition. Weiland received her BA in English from the University of California, Davis and later moved to the desert, pursuing a Creative Writing MA at Northern Arizona University. She then traveled to the humid and friendly south, where she earned a PhD in Poetry from the University of Southern Mississippi. She currently teaches writing and literature at The University of Alabama and lives in Birmingham with her wife and pets. 

Laura Hendrix Ezell
Laura Hendrix Ezell's story collection, A Record of Our Debts, was winner of the 2015 Moon City Short Fiction Award. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's, Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. She received an MFA in Fiction from The University of Alabama, and currently works as a school librarian in Birmingham.

Jessica Kidd
Jessica Fordham Kidd is a lifelong Alabamian. She is the associate director of first-year writing at the University of Alabama, and her poems have appeared in Drunken Boat, Storyscape, Tinderbox, and The Paris Review among

Listen to the music picked by the author's that inspired their works and characters:

https://open.spotify.com/user/graceaberdean/playlist/3fom3ntocSZj9ZOBwA46Ok

Good & Refreshments will be provided!

3rd Annual Catfish Literary Festival

We’re looking to reel in some authors! 
 The 3rd Annual Catfish Literary Festival will be held on Saturday, May 27th, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Athens-Limestone Public Library. This one-day literary festival will feature panel discussions and book readings. Each author and vendor who signs up will have their own tables-space to display books and meet their audience.

How you can get involved:
For $5.00, authors and other vendors share a seven-foot table with one other vendor. They can reserve an entire seven-foot table for themselves for $10.00. The Library provides table-space, seating, and light refreshments. In addition, we will promote the event through social and traditional media. We also have free wi-fi available throughout the library. Authors and vendors are responsible for bringing books, point-of-sale devices, money to make change, and any other items. Displays are encouraged, provided they don’t cause unnecessary distraction or impede on another vendor’s space.

Registration and Payment:
Space is limited, and authors must register in advance through the following web-form: https://goo.gl/je8CBx. Paper copies of the form are available at the library if needed.
Payment must be made by 4:00 p.m., May 20th. Payment can be made with cash, check, or credit card in person at the library, by mail, or over the phone.

Make checks out to Athens-Limestone Public Library. Payments can be mailed to Athens-Limestone Public Library, 603 South Jefferson St., Athens, AL 35611. (Please mark “Attn: Catfish Festival Committee.”)

If you have any questions, please email Kristopher Reisz at KREISZ@ALCPL.ORG or call (256) 232-1233.

We hope you can join us for Limestone County’s only literary festival.

Kristopher Reisz
Head of Reference
Athens-Limestone Public Library
(256) 232-1233

ASPC Chapbook Competition

The Alabama State Poetry Society is Accepting Submissions for the Annual John and Miriam Norris Memorial Chapbook Competition. Deadline is May 31, 2017. Winner receives $100 and 25 copies of their winning chapbook. 

Poems may be previously published if poet retains all rights. Send 16-24 total pages of poetry, (poems may be longer than one page, but total page count must be 16-24, and no more than one poem per page) with two (2) title pages: one with author identification, and one with NO author identification.

Please send manuscript with a $15 reading fee payable to New Dawn Unlimited, Inc. Mail to: 
NEW DAWN UNLIMITED, INC.
ASPS 2017 Morris Memorial Chapbook Competition
1830 Marvel Road
Brierfield, AL 35035