Thursday, March 13, 2008

Raising Our Voices

Yesterday I participated in Seton Hall University's "Raising Our Voices" conference. This is an annual women's conference. I learned about it from my daughter who is a graduate student at the university. Several months ago she forwarded me a call for panel proposals. Since the campus is not too far from where I live, I thought I'd give it a try. Also, while I've presented and read individually at a number of conferences and festivals, I've never been part of a panel, so I thought it would be good to try a new experience. Thus came about my proposal for "Jersey Girls: A Chorus of Poetic Voices." I invited three other women poets to be part of the panel: Jessica de Koninck, Adele Kenny, and Evie Shockley. I wanted poets with a range of styles and voices.

Once the proposal was accepted, I sent the poets a list of 10 woman-related topics and polled them for their preferences. From their responses, I pared the list down to four topics. Then for our presentation we read in round-robin fashion, one topic at a time. Our first theme was Motherhood, second was clothes, third was social issues / politics, and our last was love / sexuality. It was so interesting to hear how the poems worked off of each other, how they kind of spoke to each other. And the audience got to hear a variety of voices and approaches to topics relevant to the lives of women.

While we would like to have had a larger audience (isn't that so often the case?), we had a nice group. And while there wasn't enough time for a Q & A or for conversation, we think the audience liked our presentation. We hope to have another opportunity to do it elsewhere.

Each of the poets has published at least one collection. I recommend them all to you.

Repairs is Jessica's first chapbook. It's from Finishing Line Press.

Chosen Ghosts is one of several titles by Adele Kenny, this one from Muse-Pie Press.

a half-red sea is Evie Shockley's first full-length collection. It's from Carolina Wren Press.

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