Alabama Writers Conclave


What’s happening in the Alabama writing world…

AWC Open Mic on June 15th.

This event is free and open to the public as part of the grand kick-off opening up our 2018 AWC Conference. We are so excited that Anne Markham Bailey of Green Bucket Press will be recording a Present Tense podcast during this conference this year. 

It's not too late to register

It's never too late to join.

We will discuss long-term planning and big changes at the annual member meeting on Sunday. Although we believe planning and reports are fun, we realize our members might disagree. That's why the meeting will take place on a boat with brunch. We hope to see everyone there. 

Alina Stefanescu
AWC Member Feature: A conversation with Caleb Johnson, author of "Treeborne"

Alina Stefanescu chatted with new member, Caleb Johnson, about his roots, his cravings, and his debut novel.

All photos taken by Irina Zhorov

All photos taken by Irina Zhorov

Touch the manuscript every day, even if you only do so in a seemingly trivial way. 
— Caleb Johnson on writing a novel

ALINA: I'll start with a confession. You're the only writer I've met who grew up in Arley, Alabama. Tell me about Arley, what you loved most about it, what you miss, what it taught you.

CALEB: Well, my aunt Jessica Sampley is a published poet and my great-grandmomma Gladys Chambless wrote a column for a local newspaper for many years. My momma, of course, likes to claim writing runs in the family, though I'm not sure that's how it works.

Arley is a rural community on Smith Lake, about 1.5 hrs north of Birmingham. It still doesn't have a stoplight or any fast-food restaurants. I loved many of the traditions and rituals of growing up in a small place. Like high-school football games and community dinners and, for a time, going to church. When I was a kid we had this preacher who wore turquoise suit jackets and sweated a lot and used boxing metaphors in his sermons. I liked him. To my mind, he seemed like the kind of guy who might actually speak with God. 

I grew up in the woods on my grandmomma's land, which served as inspiration for the land in my debut novel, Treeborne. Those woods are where I became a storyteller. I'd make up stories for things I saw -- animals bones, trash, odd rock formations -- then go back to the house and tell my family while we ate Sunday dinner.  

I miss Smith Lake itself most of all. It's a beautiful deepwater lake with orange and pink sandstone shores. There's no better place to swim.  


ALINA: In your Alabama history lies the Druid City. Any special experiences, organizations, individuals, places that left their mark? If so, describe. If not, pretend I didn't ask.

CALEB: Tuscaloosa will always be special to me. There I met some of the best friends I have in this world. We spent many late nights at Egan's. During summer, after the bars closed, we'd often wander to a pool outside some apartment complex or down to the Black Warrior River and swim until the sky lightened with dawn. 

A lot of folks I know have moved away from Tuscaloosa. I feel a particular sadness, a loss, when I go back. I reckon that's just getting older, maybe. I try to go back every year for a football weekend. Saturdays in the fall I refuse to write. Those are my days off. I cook and watch however much college football I can stand. My buddy Bo Hicks still holds it down in Tuscaloosa. Go check out his place, Druid City Brewing, when you're in town. 


ALINA: I do love the one and only Bo Hicks. Your debut novel, Treeborne, is forthcoming from Picador this June. What inspired it? How long did it take to write? In the process, did you make any big structural changes or was this something that came fully formed? Explain.

CALEB: I started writing Treeborne in 2011. I'd just moved to Laramie, Wyoming to attend graduate school. I knew I wanted to write a novel during my two years there. I'd tried to write one already and it stalled somewhere about halfway through. This was my first time living outside the state of Alabama. I thought I'd come right back home after I graduated, but life has a way of surprising you. I met someone and I fell in love, we got a dog, and now here we are living in Philadelphia for the time being. 

In Laramie I tried to write a straight historical novel and that just wasn't working. I don't like to do the kind of research required for such a project. I just kept writing though. I was homesick, which certainly influenced what I was doing on the page. Eventually, characters and settings emerged. I didn't have a plan, really. I knew when I had Janie and Maybelle Treeborne that I was on to something though. All I had to do was watch and listen-- not so different from what I'd do in those woods as a kid. 


ALINA: If you had only had five music albums to play until the end of your time on this planet, what would they be?

CALEB: Rather than albums, let me name five artists in no particular order--

  1. Elvis Presley

  2. Hank Williams

  3. Lee Bains III

  4. Alabama 

  5. Loretta Lynn


ALINA: I absolutely agree with you on Lee Bains III--he's the only musician I know that 1) gave the Bryce Asylum its due as a liminal space in Tuscaloosa 2) mentions Walker Percy in a lyric 3) strings the pulse of southern rock. Speaking of pulse, I first heard your name earlier this year when I read your beautiful essay, "Gabriel García Márquez’s Road Trip Through Alabama" in The Paris Review. How did that piece happen? Any interesting tidbits or facts that you left on the cutting room floor? Any other writers that (surprisingly) evoke Alabama for you? Why or why not?

CALEB: I was reading some magazine pieces published around the time of Márquez’s death and in one I saw mention of this Greyhound ride he and his family took through the South. There were maybe two sentences on the subject before the writer moved on. I'd never heard this before, nor had I considered Márquez would've set foot in the region. I'm a sucker for literary pilgrimages and biography, so I had to know more. One thing led to another and there I was on the phone with Gabo's best friend, the writer and diplomat Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, hearing stories just once removed from Márquez himself. I knew I'd have to write about this experience and that time in Márquez's life. I'm glad The Paris Review published the piece on its website. They do great work. 


ALINA. In his essay, “100 Things About Writing a Novel”, Alexander Chee said: The novel is the most precise analogy the writer can make to what was seen in the rooms and trains and skies and summer nights and parties where the novel was written, as the writer walked in moments with the enormous imaginary friend, before returning to the others, which is to say, the writer’s life.

If you could made a list of "5 Things About Writing a Novel," what might you include? 


1. Touch the manuscript every day, even if you only do so in a seemingly trivial way. 

2. Don't be afraid to write badly and throw out pages later.

3. Have a routine-- whatever works for you. Ignore writing advice, unless you're reading it to make yourself feel better about your own work habits.

4. It's okay to step away from the computer for a minute. Keep a big plastic cup -- if possible, the kind you overpay for at sporting events -- filled with water beside you desk (not on; you will spill). Drink, get up to pee, refill, repeat. 

5. Adopt a dog. No other living thing will love you unconditionally. 


ALINA. What writers are you currently reading and loving? Why?

CALEB: I just finished Things We Lost in the Fire, a short story collection by the Argentine writer Mariana Enriquez. The stories in this book are flat-out disturbing and beautiful. Enriquez puts realism and the supernatural side-by-side to great effect her stories about murdered children and stoned teenagers and police brutality and abused women. The details she includes will have you just slack-jawed on every page. 


ALINA. Take us back to 7-year-old Caleb. A neighbor asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. What does he say? Is this different from 12-year-old Caleb's answer? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What does that even mean?

CALEB: I probably said I wanted to play basketball at The University of North Carolina-- Chapel Hill, then for the Chicago Bulls. I loved Michael Jordan and the colors of those teams' uniforms. This dream ended as my growing did and I was forced to reckon with my athletic limitations. 

At some point in my childhood I remember reading a Michael Crichton novel my momma'd bought me at Walmart. I told my folks I wanted to be an author when I grew up and they said something like, "That ain't a job. You can't make a living at it." They weren't wrong, but they're supportive of my pursuits-- no matter how fool-headed some have been. They told me I could be anything I wanted to be, which, since I took it to heart, has led to disappointment and to joy. I'm grateful they've never pressured me to pursue a certain career. I know that must not be easy for parents, because they're afraid of what'll happen if things don't work out. 


ALINA: You currently live and teach in Pennsylvania. What do you miss most about living in the South? What do you not miss at all? 

CALEB: I miss the food, of course. I miss the landscape. I miss my family and friends. I miss the voices and the way folks interact with each other. I'll never get over what I perceive as a kind of rudeness that the a big city like Philadelphia seems to encourage in folks. I think it has to do with the competition for space and for resources and inequality when it comes to accessing both. I'm not a Southerner who left because he did not love his home. I left to accomplish some things. I'm not done yet, but I fully intend to return to the South and give back to the place that has given me so much. 


ALINA: Finally, because I'm hungry and dreaming of lunch, describe the food and drink of your favorite meal. Do you have a favorite vegetable? If so, which one and why?

CALEB: Cold fried chicken, mustardy potato salad, bread and butter pickles, a fresh-sliced tomato just covered in salt and pepper.


Caleb Johnson is the author of the novel Treeborne. He grew up in Arley, Alabama, studied journalism at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and earned an MFA from the University of Wyoming. He has worked as a small-town newspaper reporter, an early-morning janitor, and a whole-animal butcher, among other jobs, and has been awarded a Jentel Writing Residency and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in fiction to the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Currently, Johnson lives with his partner, Irina, and their dog, Hugo, in Philadelphia, where he teaches while working on his next novel. 

Booking-- To book Caleb for an event, use this form on his website, or email--

Publicist: Sara Delozier,

Literary Agent: Amelia Atlas,

All photos taken by Irina Zhorov.

Upcoming Treeborne events in Alabama:

June 13: The Alabama Booksmith - Birmingham, AL - 5pm

June 14: Arley Public Library - Arley, AL - homecoming event feat. homemade peach desserts and coffee, 5pm

June 20: Page & Palette - Fairhope, AL - 6pm

June 23: Druid City Brewing - Tuscaloosa, AL - in conversation w/ Blaine Duncan, feat. music by Doc Dailey, and smoked meats by Bo Hicks and Turkey and the Wolf's Nate Barfield, 6pm

Alina Stefanescu
Pitch Sessions and Book Critiques with Fiery Seas Publishing

Do you need hands-on attention to a particular manuscript? Are you tired of trying to guess what publishers want from a pitch? If you're attending the AWC Conference in Orange Beach this June, you have the opportunity to book a 10-minute pitch session with Misty Williams, publisher of Fiery Seas Publishing. Misty will also be doing 10-page critiques, where you will be given feedback on the first 10 pages of your manuscript.

Founded in 2014, Fiery Seas Publishing thrives in putting out high-quality books for men, women, and young adults to enjoy long after they close the cover.

Learn more about Fiery Seas Publishing from their blog.

Use the "Register Now" button below to book a Pitch Session or Critique with Misty Williams for the 2018 Alabama Writers Conclave Conference between Jun 15, 6:00 PM – Jun 17, 7:00 PM.

Limited spots available so register soon. 

Alina Stefanescu
Gorham's Bluff Poetry Festival, October 6th 2018.

A message from Roger Carlisle:

We are going to have another great poetry festival this year at Gorham’s Bluff on October 6th from 9:30 to 3:00 pm.

There will be a workshop conducted by Barry Marks and Adam Vines beginning at 9:30 AM. Lunch will be served at 12:30 included in your reservation fee).  During lunch the awards for, and readings of, the best original poem and two runners-up will take place. There will be an open mic following the awards.  At the open mic, readers are encouraged to read their own poem or a favorite poem.  The readings should be limited to 3 minutes or less.  The Festival will end at 3:00 pm.

Poetry Contest
There will be a $250 prize for the best original poem and certificates for the two runners-up.  Please submit one original, unpublished poem no later than September 10, 2018 (postmarked), in order to be considered. 

The poem may be sent to Roger Carlisle at or mailed to 4312 Overlook Road, Birmingham, AL 35222 attn: Roger Carlisle.

RSVP for this event to


Alina Stefanescu
A conversation with Kwoya Fagin Maples about "Mend."

(Alina Stefanescu stole a few minutes from Birmingham's own incredible Kwoya Fagin Maples to discuss her poetry collection.)

Your poetry collection, Mend, is forthcoming from The University Press of Kentucky later this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the complex historical subject involved?

Mend is a collection of historical persona poetry written in the voices of women who were considered experimental subjects by Dr. James Marion Sims of Mt. Meigs, Alabama. Between 1845 and 1849, Sims performed experimental gynecological surgery on at least eleven enslaved women.

All of the women— procured from nearby plantations— suffered from fistula. Fistula is a condition that is the result of physical trauma during childbirth. Since fistula typically happens with prolonged labor, it can be safely assumed that most of the babies died. Sims only names three of the women in his notes and autobiography: Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy. He is known as the “Father of Gynecology” and is the inventor of the speculum. There are statues dedicated to him in New York (recently removed), South Carolina, and Alabama.  


Tell me about how you made use of poetic forms in order to convey the complicated grief and emotion of Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy.

Most of the poems are lyrical in nature— they are vivid, fragmented, and narrative. Since the women were often in pain or under the influence of opium, I used this form to convey their cognitive state and emotion. One section of the book is entirely in sonnets.  

Initially, I used the sonnet because I wanted to use a form relative to the time period. Later, it proved to be the perfect vehicle. I gave myself a constraint: all of the sonnets were to be directed towards the doctor. The speaker, Anarcha, would finally hold him accountable. This poem, in particular, is surreal at times, and travels between lucidity and hallucinatory images.     


Joel Brouwer wrote, "These poems carry an unbearable weight of witness: so much suffering, but also the joy of survival, the survival of joy." Tell me about "the survival of joy,” whether in poetry, in the lives of your characters, or in the present day.  

As Toi Derricotte said, “Joy is an act of resistance.” I believe this firmly. This revelation of joy was certainly something practiced by my ancestors. The circumstances experienced by the women in my book experienced were awful, but I thought it important to include moments of joy.

The human experience is complex, no matter the situation. Joy can be a part of any darkness (if you allow it) because joy is not the absence of pain. Joy is a recognition, a choice. There are several joyful memories described in Mend: of catching fireflies, of meeting someone significant for the first time, or recalling the scent of a pie.  These women were more than their suffering. They were human, and this is what I want readers to hold when they walk away from Mend.


 I am in awe of the way in which you expand the poetics of witness to include these women. What was the most challenging part of bearing witness for you as a poet, but also as a mother, a wife, and a black woman in America?

The most challenging part of bearing witness was knowing this had happened to other human beings. I am an empathetic person by nature, so I felt a lot of hurt, anger, and sadness on behalf of the women I was writing about.  As a mother, I was struck by the knowledge that these women didn’t have the opportunity to mother the way I have. There was no baby registry, no time off, no prenatal care. As enslaved women, their experience of matrescence was entirely different from my own.

Uncovering this story as a poet and new mother meant a lot of things.  It meant that during pregnancy, I was hyperaware of how medical professionals responded to me as a black woman.  On most of my prenatal visits, especially with men, I was extremely nervous. As a new mother in Birmingham, Alabama, I realized my vulnerability, particularly in medical settings. As I continued to research, I became aware of how medical professionals still treat women of color. Currently, black women are three times more likely to die as a result of childbirth than white women— regardless of ability to pay, and regardless of prenatal care. This statistic was found in 2017! Why is that? There are a few answers, but this one is chief among them: prejudice and (scientific) racism are pervasive. For a long time, black people were thought to have a higher tolerance to pain than white people, which is directly connected to why the current opioid epidemic disproportionately affects whites—because black people are prescribed pain medication at much lower rates.


Joy can be a part of any darkness (if you allow it) because joy is not the absence of pain. Joy is a recognition, a choice.
— Kwoya Fagin Maples

Did you feel closer to any of the personas in this collection? If so, who and why? If not, why?

I felt most connected to Anarcha. Anarcha was seventeen at the beginning of the experimentation in 1845. She endured at least thirty surgeries, according to Sims’ notes. Since she was the first person he experimented on, and the only one he claimed to “heal,” I imagined her as angry—certainly, but also wise, knowing and aware. It is her voice I searched for the most while writing. Again, the sonnet corona I referenced above is written in her voice. She directly confronts the doctor and speaks on behalf of all the women.


What poets or writers most influenced this collection and the way in which you approached it? Why or how?

Frank X Walker’s book Turn Me Loose was a companion book for me. This is a collection of historical persona poetry written in several voices including the voice of Medgar Evers, his wife, his murderer and even the bullet that killed Medgar Evers. Walker’s creativity, structure and genius on the page is startling. I love how the book is continually engaging.

Cornelius Eady’s book, Brutal Imaginations, was also influential in that there was an imagined persona in the book. I liked the narrative arc and how details were exposed over the course of the story. Other poets who influenced the work were Natasha Tretheway, Michael Ondaatje, among others. 


How do you balance teaching, mothering, loving, and living with writing and publishing in the Birmingham community?

I don’t balance. There are times when I’m hyper-focused on one thing, and I think that’s fine.  I have the most supportive husband in the world. We both want the best for each other. We have three young children, but we know our career pursuits also give us fulfillment, so we both make sacrifices for each other. I try to make it to as many Birmingham writing events as I can, but my lifestyle is such that I have to pick and choose. I want the writers in my community to feel supported, so I try to give that support in a variety of ways, whether it’s showing up, pep talks on social media, or reading manuscripts people send my way.

I look for ways to spend valuable time with writers while also acknowledging my roles as a mother, wife, writer, and instructor. It’s not easy, but I try to make good choices –overall— in how and where I spend my time.


I appreciate your honest on the work-life balance equation. What organizations and resources would you suggest to other writers in Alabama looking for support, encouragement, and development? What organizations have helped you and how?

Cave Canem is an incredible experience, but there are so many more options now for poets of color. I’d recommend The Watering Hole and Kundiman.

The organization that has made the most impact on my life recently, however, is See Jane Write.  See Jane Write (SJW) is a Birmingham organization for women who write and blog. Being a part of SJW has taught me the business side of writing. As a writer, I’m an entrepreneur, and that was something I had to come to understand. So often as women we are trained not to self-promote, but understanding branding and marketing as a writer is crucial. I’m an introvert, so this doesn’t come naturally, but it’s necessary. SJW has given me the tools, resources, and confidence to pursue being profitable as a writer.


Would you say this book is “teachable” for academic settings?

Absolutely. One of the sections from Mend I’m most proud of is the sonnet corona. It’s a modified sonnet, but the syllabic count is spot on (10 or 11 syllables per line). I made an effort to have a narrative arc, and it’s a response to Harriet Washington’s concept of “the medical plantation.” Harriet Washington wrote a book called Medical Apartheid that details several cases of medical experimentation on black bodies from slavery until now. There were many cases of medical experimentation during slavery.  What yielded from these situations was medical advancement, fame, and money for the doctors. As a result, Washington describes these spaces as “medical plantations.” The title of the sonnet corona is “What Yields.”

This book relied on historical research and references an actual case in medical history.  It can be incorporated into women studies, medical ethics, history, English and creative writing courses.  


What final words do you have for Alabama writers, readers, and dreamers?

In order to move forward, we have to understand our history. It’s difficult to thoughtfully consider our past, but we perpetuate ignorance when we don’t see or value the humanity of the people we are considering.  My hope is that people don’t distance themselves from the content of this book, but rather see how they are a part of this story. We should all question our role in the continuing story of equality in America.

Thank you so much Kwoya for sharing--and for writing such a magnificent book.

Mend can be pre-ordered online from the University of Kentucky Press website.

Learn more about Kwoya from her website or
twitter, where she tweets as @kwoyamaples.

To Bear Witness      (a poem from Mend)

Delia held my hand all through it
        my nates splayed open

and like the butcher’s meat,
        I belonged to that steel.

The doctor standing
        in the triangle between like

he always was.
        He is the air there

and he will separate the day from the night.
        Then the pain

until I see the cow with no head.
         I swear it was just as real as you and me;

it walked in this here room      hooves clicking,
          a black soot hole for a neck.

And now, Delia squeezes my hand to the bone
           like the cow is hers,

like it is her spine on the table,
          her chattering un-intelligibles

and writhing
        all through it.  


Alina Stefanescu
SHOW MO on May 23rd at Hoover Public Library

You are invited to attend SHOW MO, Wednesday May 23, 1-3p.m, Hoover Public Library (Birmingham, Al). At this special event you will find inspiration AND get feedback on your work! This will help you polish your manuscript for the SCBWI Southern Breeze Contest in June.

It works like this: You bring your pages or paintings and then read or show your work to other writers and illustrators.  Participants will then fill-out feedback sheets provided for them. Afterwards, the feedback sheets can be used to improve and revise your work.

Cost:  Free and open to the public, so yes, you can bring a non-SCBWI writing friend; however, they will not be able to enter our annual writing contest.

HOW MANY PAGES/ILLUSTRATIONS: Up to ten, double spaced pages in a 12-point font. Your pages should be your best work and near submission ready. For illustrators, bring up to four illustrations for feedback. For more of the Writing Contest submission information, see


To insure everyone is reached, where participation exceeds 8 people, we will break into groups of 4-6. This is a similar format to our conference Informal Critiques.

For more information and to reserve your place RSVP Claire Datnow:

Alina Stefanescu
Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery
ABF 2018 Poetry Panel and Workshops flier 2.jpg

AWC is are excited to announce a weekend of free workshops and book fairs supported by the Alabama Writer's Forum and various local and state grants. You can learn more about the 2018 Alabama Book Festival scheduled for April 20 and 21st at the Alabama Book Festival website.

In the meantime, apart from the incredible literary opportunities, here's why we think you should attend.

Free Workshops

ABF is offering a diverse set of FREE writing workshops on Saturday, April 21, 2018, on everything from poetry to podcasting and audio books to writing about the arts. Click here for a description of the workshops.

Register now because seats are filling up!


Fiction Flier.jpg

Professional Development for Educators

For teachers of creative writing grades 6-12, the Alabama Writers' Forum is offering a complimentary workshop on Friday, April 20 at the Troy University Montgomery Campus in downtown Montgomery. This is a great professional development opportunity for educators! Click here to view the program.

Open Mic Opportunities

Our new and improved open-mic stage is now taking applications for 15-minute slots! Click here for information on how to read in our food court during the day!

ABF 2018 Free Writing Workshops flier 3.jpg

The Alabama Book Festival is located at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery, Alabama. You can use the map below to help you plot the trip.

Alina Stefanescu
ASPS Spring Workshop in Orange Beach
asps spring meeting.png


Jacqueline Allen Trimble lives and writes in Montgomery, Alabama, where she is a Professor of English and the chairperson of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. She holds three degrees in English: the B.A. from Huntingdon College, and the M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.   She is the current board president of the Alabama Writers Forum, and a member of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum Board, serving as chairperson of the literary arts award committee for high school and college students.   She has won several teaching and writing awards, including the Exemplary Teacher Award (for junior faculty), The Todd Award for Outstanding Teaching (for senior faculty), The Julia Lightfoot Sellers Award (given by the Huntingdon College junior and senior class to the faculty member who has most inspired them to learning), and The University of Alabama’s Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award, for Race, Gender Culture in Adrienne Kennedy’s  In One Act, an analysis of the playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s absurd dramas through the lens of feminist/womanist theory. 

Her research interests include 20th century black women writers, feminist theory, and representations of race and gender in popular culture.  She is also a poet.  Her work has appeared in The Offing, Blue Lake Review, The Louisville Review and The Griot. American Happiness, her first collection is published by NewSouth Books.  The ironically titled book examines America’s refusal to grapple with hard truths, preferring instead the pretense that everyone and everything is just fine.   Recently awarded a Key West Literary Seminar scholarship, she is currently a Cave Canem fellow and the recipient of a 2017 literary arts fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. American Happiness won the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize and was named best book of 2016 by the new Seven Sisters Book Awards. 

Adam Vines graduated with his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He then received his MFA from the University of Florida in 2006, where he also taught and earned the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University Writing Program in 2005. He is now an assistant professor at UAB, where he teaches poetry writing workshops and earned the Core Teaching Award from the UAB English Department in 2008.  

He has published work in Kenyon ReviewSouthwest ReviewPoetry, and many others.  He was named the Tennessee Williams Scholar at the 2008 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. At UAB, he is on faculty at the annual Ada Long Creative Writers’ Workshop for high school students. Also for UAB, Adam has been the editor of Birmingham Poetry Review (BPR) since 2011. In 2012, Adam was among the featured debut poets in Poets and Writers, and was granted the Individual Artist Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) the following year. His collection of poetry entitled The Coal Life was nominated for The Poet’s Prize in 2014. He also published a collaborative collection of poetry with Allen Jih entitled According to Discretion. Most recently, Adam was awarded the William Alexander II & Lisa Percy Fellowship at the Rivendell Writers’ Colony in Sewanee for a residency in spring 2017. 

Adam’s current project is a collection of ekphrastic poems inspired by his love of visual art. These poems will center on the fascinating interactions between people and the art they observe at museums. Some of these have recently been published in  32 PoemsGulf Coast, and The Southwest Review, among others.


asps program.png

You can learn more about ASPS contests, workshops, and meetings on the ASPS Facebook page

Alina Stefanescu
The Present Tense Podcast featuring Magic City Poetry Festival Poets.

AWC member Anne Markham Bailey is the publisher of Green Bucket Press located in Irondale. She is also the creator of the Present Tense Podcast series which considers stories of authentic voice.

In the first of a two part Poet Interviews series, Green Bucket Press founder and poet Anne Markham Bailey ushers the thoughts and poems of a wide range of poets as they approach questions of why they write poems, how they came to the craft, the role of the poet in society and their relationship with language. Listen to each poet as they read a recent poem as well.

If the fancy web player below doesn't work on your computer, you can listen directly to the Poet Interview: Part 1 in your Itunes. 

Learn more about the poets featured in this podcast, including:

You can follow the Present Tense Podcast on Itunes here.

And learn more about the Magic City Poetry Festival events here. 

We are thrilled to see all the ways in which local writers make poetry and literature accessible, and grateful to Green Bucket Press for supporting the Magic City Poetry Festival. 


Alina Stefanescu
Alabama State Poetry Society Spring 2018 Contests

It's time for the annual ASPS Spring Contests!

Winners will be announced at Spring Conference on April 28th in Orange Beach, Alabama. 

Postmark Deadline for receiving submissions:  March 12, 2018



  1. Entry fees for ASPS members ~ $1 Per poem.  No limit to number of poems submitted.  More than one poem can be submitted for any contest.

  2. Entry fees for non-members ~ $5 per poem.  NO MORE THAN 5 SUBMISSIONS.

  3. The same poem may not be entered into more than one category.

  4. Poems cannot have won a monetary award in a previous ASPS contest.

  5. No prior publication. Poems cannot have been published before in online magazine/publication or a journal, book or other professional source.

  6. No limit on number of entries for ASPS members, but only one award per contest.   (Send SASE for winners’ list--#10 envelope only)

  7. Line limit for all contests is 40 lines unless otherwise specified.



  1. Submit 2 copies of each poem on 8 ½ x 11 paper using plain type and fonts only:    
  2. On each copy, put category name and number in upper left hand corner.
  3. On one copy only, put your name, address, e-mail and “member” or “non-member” in upper right hand corner. (Address labels are acceptable.)
  4. Mail entries and fees to Jeanette Willert, 8 Seddon Point, Pell City AL 35128.
  5. QUESTIONS ?  e-mail Also see the ASPS website at for additional copies of this brochure and other information.    

Submissions must be postmarked by March 12th, 2018.  




1.  ALABAMA STATE POETRY SOCIETY CONTEST (ASPS Members Only): Sponsored by the Alabama State Poetry Society.
Any form and topic; no line limit.
Awards:  $75, $50, $25, $10 and 1 Honorable Mention.

2.  POET’S CHOICE (ASPS Members Only): Sponsored by Jeanette Willert    
You choose topic and form.  Line limit:  200 lines.    
Awards:  $50, $25, $15.  Honorable Mentions at Judge’s discretion.

3.  MEMORIES: Sponsored by Roger Carlisle
A poem about any significant memories or events in your own life.
Any style. Up to 42 lines or 500 words if a prose poem.
Awards $75, $50, $25 plus honorable mention.

4.  THALASSIC POEM (related to the sea): Sponsored by Jessica Temple
Any form; line limit 60
Awards: $25, $15, $10, HM at judge's discretion

5. SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT (ASPS Members Only): Sponsored by Mavis Jarrell
Poem should educate and encourage any age reader the importance of recycling or other ways to save our environment.
Any form. Maximum 60 lines.
Awards: $25, $15, $10.  Honorable Mention.    

6.  LYDIA STEFANESCU MEMORIAL CONTEST: Sponsored by Alina Stefanescu
Any form
Length limited to one page of text, whether lineated or block prose poetry.
Open to non-members of ASPS
First prize $50; Honorable mention $25

7.  SANDCASTLES: Sponsored by Myra Ward Barra
Any form; any length.
Awards:  $20, $15, $10.

8. THE DODIE WALTON HORNE MEMORIAL PRIZE: Sponsored by Jennifer Horne, Poet Laureate of Alabama
Subject: An experience of change or growth.
Any length, any form.
Awards: $50, $25, $15;  and $10 Honorable Mention.    

9. A-MUSE ME!: Sponsored by P.T.  Paul.
Choose an animal - real or imaginary - to be your muse. Then, let that animal tell us - in their own voice – how they inspire, comfort, console, and rejoice with you in your poetic endeavors!  Remember: it is your Muse who is speaking, not you!
Any form, any style, minimum 20 lines, limit one page.
Awards:: $25.00, $15.00,  $10.00.

10.  HUMOR ME!: Sponsored by Brianna and Paula Hicks Smith.
No form restrictions.  No more than 60 lines.
Topic:  Anything that brings joy or a smile.    
Awards:  $25, $15, $10.    

11. ODE TO MY PET ROCK: Sponsored by Vincent Tomeo .
Humorous, Free Verse, Line Limit:   25.
Awards:   $25, $15, $10, $5

12.  WRITERS ANONYMOUS CONTEST (ASPS Members Only): Sponsored by the Writers Anonymous group in Pell City.
Form: Villanelle. Line limit as dictated by form.   
Subject: Any.   
Awards: $50, $25, $15, $10. Honorable Mentions  at Judge’s Discretion.

13.  PRECIOUS PRODIGAL CONTEST (ASPS Members Only): Sponsored by Harry and Rita Moritz. Form: Any.  Line Limit: 50
Subject: “There’s a New Day Dawning” (literal or symbolic)
Awards: $30, $20, $15, $10, Honorable Mentionss at Judge’s discretion

14.  THE HORACE RAY (BUDDY) ROBERTS JR. MEMORIAL CONTEST: Sponsored by Harry & Rita Moritz
For Buddy, who loved words and books more than anyone else we’ve ever known.
Subject: Words and/or the People Who Read or Write Them
Form: Any. If you use a form, name the form. (No explicit erotica, profanity, or vulgarities)
Line Limit: No less than 30, no more than 80. (Blank lines do not count)
Prize: A single prize of $100.
Open to non-members of ASPS but must be present to win.

Alina Stefanescu