Poetry Month Events

Register here to receive the Zoom links for the weekend’s events. You will receive links to all events and can attend the ones that work for your schedule. Thank you to the Polk County Community Foundation for their support of these free events.

Thursday, April 22 at 6 pm: Jaki Shelton Green will kick off poetry weekend with a reading on Thursday, April 22nd at 4 pm.  She is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate. She is a 2019 Academy of American Poet Laureate Fellow, 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame Inductee, 2009 NC Piedmont Laureate appointment, 2003 recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature. Jaki Shelton Green teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and has been named the 2021 Frank B. Hanes Writer in Residence at UNC Chapel Hill. Her publications include: Dead on Arrival, Masks, Dead on Arrival and New Poems, Conjure Blues, singing a tree into dance, breath of the song, Feeding the Light, i want to undie you. On Juneteenth 2020, she released her first LP, poetry album, The River Speaks of Thirst, produced by Soul City Sounds and Clearly Records. Jaki Shelton Green is the owner of SistaWRITE providing writing retreats for women writers in Sedona Arizona, Martha’s Vineyard, Ocracoke North Carolina, Northern Morocco, and Tullamore Ireland.

Friday, April 23 at 6 pm: Patricia Corbus and Wendell Hawken each have family in Tryon and they both hold MFA’s from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers.  Wendell Hawken came to poetry late in life and earned her graduate degree in 2005, many years after her BA in English literature from Vassar College.  Her publications include three chapbooks, Mother Tongue (2001), The Spinal Sequence (2013) and Sequel (2019) plus two full collections, The Luck of Being (2008) and White Bird (2017) a sequence about her husband’s battle with cancer.   Hawken lives on a grass farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her work has a strong narrative thread and draws from her rural lifestyle where the weather means more than what clothes to wear.   Patricia Corbus earned degrees from Agnes Scott College, UNC Chapel Hill, and an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers. Her poems have been published in The Georgia ReviewThe Paris ReviewThe Gettysburg ReviewNew Letters, among many other literary journals. She won the 2015 Off The Grid poetry prize for her second book, Finestra’s Window. Tony Hoagland called her “a brilliant, virtuoso poet” and Lynn Emanuel praised her work that “vigorously leaps between myth, fantasy, the past, and the very present, mortal, human world.”

Saturday, April 24 at 4 pm: Kathy Ackerman, Erik Bundy and DJ Gaskin Kathy Cantley Ackerman was born in coal country, West Virginia, grew up in Ohio, and has lived in the Carolinas since 1984.  She holds a PhD in literature from the University of South Carolina. Her latest poetry collection, A Quarrel of Atoms, won the Lena Shull Poetry Book Prize and was published by St. Andrews University Press in 2019.  She is the author of Coal River Road (Livingston Press, University of West Alabama), as well as three poetry chapbooks and The Heart of Revolution, the only book to date about North Carolina proletarian novelist Olive Tilford Dargan (University of Tennessee Press).  She currently serves as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Writer-in-Residence at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC. Originally from Texas and now a resident of Tryon, Erik Bundy moved here from Belgium several years ago after working for 21 years overseas as a contract specialist for the U.S. government. He writes poetry, short stories and novels and is currently working on a medieval mystery set in southern France. More than thirty of his stories and poems have been published, in addition to his fantasy mysteries- Murder Among the Dwarves and The Dwarf Assassin.  DJ Gaskin has published poetry in Gargoyle, The Typescript, SLAB, The Comstock Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, Ars Medica and others, along with work in two anthologies. DJ’s chapbook, Of Crows and Superstitions, was published by Main Street Rag in Charlotte, NC. DJ is also an artist and lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with two literate cats named after favorite poets.

Sunday, April 25 at 4 pm: Cathy Smith Bowers will not only read her recent work, but will announce the winners of the 12th annual Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition and will read the winning poems.  Cathy Smith Bowers, North Carolina Poet Laureate 2010—2012, was born and grew up in Lancaster, S.C. She was educated at USC-L, Winthrop University, Oxford, and the Haden Institute. Cathy Smith Bowers’ poems have appeared widely in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. She is a winner of The General Electric Award, recipient of a South Carolina Poetry Fellowship, and winner of The South Carolina Arts Commission Fiction Project. In 2017 she was inducted into the South Carolina Author’s Hall of Fame. She served for many years as poet-in-residence at Queens University of Charlotte where she received the 2002 JB Fuqua Distinguished Educator Award. She now teaches in the Queens University low-residency MFA program and in the Haden Institute Spiritual Direction and Dream Leadership programs. Her first book The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas was the inaugural winner of The Texas Tech University Press First Book Competition. Her poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Poetry Almanac and on Poetry Daily. Her fifth book, The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers, Press 53, won the 2014 SIBA Award for Poetry. Her most recent book is The Abiding Image: Inspiration and Guidance for Beginning Writers, Readers, and Teachers of Poetry, Press 53, 2021. She lives in the North Carolina foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.