Campus News

Writers Conference Hosts Slam Poet, Blogger


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 27, 2009) – The 30th anniversary Kentucky Women Writers Conference (KWWC) will host several events designed to showcase diverse women writers and provide outreach to the Lexington community. The Gypsy Poetry Slam opens the conference and features women poets in competition, with audience judging. The Sonia Sanchez Lecture Series brings a leading African-American blogger to Kentucky to present a public lecture and a how-to seminar on blogging.  

Since 2005, the Gypsy Poetry Slam has become nationally recognized as a premier all-woman invitational event. The competition showcases women spoken-word artists from all walks of life and levels of experience, from poetry circuit veterans to first-time slammers, in an elimination-round competition. Poets travel from all over the state and country to join in an event unparalleled in this region.

“The element of competition is what makes a poetry slam so dynamic and intense compared to other kinds of literary readings," notes Julie Wrinn, director of KWWC. "The Gypsy Slam is a rare opportunity for Kentuckians to experience the slam scene, which has become such a part of the urban fabric in larger cities.”

This year's event will be judged by a panel of four audience members and featured celebrity judge, Rachel McKibbens. The Gypsy Poetry Slam is co-sponsored by the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women, and some performances will be on that topic.

Poets currently scheduled to compete are: Donna Ison, Tuesday Knight, Ami Mattison, Adrienne Nadeau, Onome, Renee Rigdon, Cathleen Schandelmeier and Rose Smith. Sign-ups for open mic are on a first-come first-served basis; for more information contact Bianca Spriggs at The open microphone session begins at 6:30 p.m. and competition starts at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, at Victorian Square. The Gypsy Poetry Slam is free and open to the public. 

The Sonia Sanchez Lecture Series, named for the poet, launched in 2004 and  has emerged as a centerpiece of the KWWC curriculum. This year’s speaker is Gina McCauley, whose national blog, "What About Our Daughters?," combats negative stereotypes of African-American women, and her visit coincides with Lexington’s Roots and Heritage Festival.

McCauley's blog earned her recognition on Essence magazine’s list of the 25 Most Influential African Americans in 2007. She is also the founder of "Blogging While Brown," the first international conference for bloggers of color, and "Michelle Obama Watch," a blog that follows the good, the bad and the ugly of media’s coverage of Michelle Obama.

McCauley’s lecture, titled “What About Our Daughters,” begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at Coleman Recital Hall in the Mitchell Fine Arts Building, located on the Transylvania University campus. Admission to this lecture is free and open to the public. She will also lead a free how-to session, Beginning Bloggers Boot Camp, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Lexington Public Library - Northside Branch.

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is the longest running conference of its kind in the nation. A literary festival, the event's continuing purpose remains promoting imaginative conversation and lifting up women’s artistry for the benefit of all. The annual event is made possible in part by its presenting sponsor, UK, and continued community partnerships.

For more information on the Gypsy Poetry Slam and the Sonia Sanchez Lecture Series, contact Julie Wrinn, conference director, at (859) 257-2874.