Convention program committee chairman Carol Yoho and members Anne Spry and Max Dunham have been scurrying to fill in the agenda of workshops and speakers for this fall’s statewide convention. There are still a few blanks to complete, but here’s a sneak peak of the speakers that have committed to the Oct. 9 and 10 event. We are forging ahead with plans for an in-person event at the Ramada, coupled with an option for statewide members to get tickets for real time or archived access to recordings of workshops and speakers.
Keynote Speaker: Timothy Keane
Keynote: "Pardon My Pentameter: A Descent Into Cowboy Poetry." Dr. Timothy Keane is a three-time champion in the Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest. He also has won multiple events at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, where he was overall reserve champion in 2016 and 2018. While this all sounds quite pretentious, he attempts to remain pragmatic, half-handy, and on occasion, entertaining. He describes himself as a “green broke”* cowboy poet, although he has “slipped past various judges a few times.”
Dr. Keane is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Distinguished Graduate Faculty, in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design at Kansas State University, where he has served since 1984. His research involves the study of rivers, creeks, gullies and erosional or depositional processes.
He lives with his wife, Sharon, and a couple of bird dogs in northwest Wabaunsee County.
“Green broke”: has had a saddle on, been ridden a few times, has lots of vices, needs tons of work; is liable to spook, bolt, kick, rear, crow-hop, and refuse simple situations; basically unpredictable.
Opening Speaker: Thomas Fox Averill
"Trouble: the Backbone of Literature"
Opening Speaker: Thomas Fox Averill, retired WU English teacher, has published several books and is a radio commentator, using the name “William Jennings Bryan Oleander.” He donated a collection of books by Kansas authors to the Maybee Library at Washburn. The opening general session Saturday morning, October 9, will focus on a quote from Eudora Welty, “Trouble, the Backbone of Literature,” and the way that trouble helps construct plot and character together as people move from difficulty to either overcome, or come to live with “troubles.”
"A Jail and a Flood: Writing Transformative Fiction"
Marcia Cebulska is a Topeka resident who writes plays, books & films. She recently published her first novel. http://www.marciacebulska.com/
Marcia’s novel, WATCHING MEN DANCE, includes some harrowing scenes based on real-life occurrences. For example, she writes about being harassed and jailed with a Native American dancer and trying to survive the worst flood in Crete’s history. Cebulska will discuss how she adapted the incidents to the necessities of her novel, its plot and characters; how the situations provided her lead character with opportunities for transformation, for personal change and decision-making. She will emphasize the possibilities of using life experience as a basis for fiction but also the need for employing literary craft in the process, transforming life into art. Q&A.
Panel of Bookstore and Library Reps
Keeping and attracting readers in a pandemic
Due to the continuing challenges of operating bookstores and libraries in a pandemic, this panel is proving a sticky wicket . . . but it will unfold as envisioned by convention time and before.
"Lifting the Veil: Creativity and Healing the Wounds of Deep Loss"
After suffering profound loss, we often find our lives out of balance, our energies blocked, our futures uncertain. Even the most intuitive and healthy of us can experience this tectonic shift in our reality and find it difficult to restore a sense of wholeness. But through the channeling of our creativity--in whatever form that takes--we can affect a healing transformation, the restoration of balance, and a renewed sense of control. In this presentation, Silvestri will share insights gained from his 20-year journey as a poet, which provided the tools necessary to move through his own profound loss toward healing. Come explore the power of creative expression to tap into the deepest parts of our grief and pain and help us do the hard work of healing from traumatic loss.
Charles Anthony Silvestri is the author of three books and scores of published works written for choral composers. His words have been sung by thousands of choristers all over the world, by ensembles ranging from high schools to the Houston Grand Opera, from the King’s Singers to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, from Westminster Choir College to Westminster Abbey. He enjoys the creative challenges and rewards of the collaborative process and has had the privilege of working with many fi ne artists and composers. For inspiration he draws on his travels, his education as a medievalist, and his deep love of words and music. When he is not writing you may fi nd him playing Irish traditional music at a pub or hunched over his desk painting medieval-style illuminations or sacred icons. A veteran educator with three decades of experience teaching kindergarten through college, he is currently a lecturer in ancient and medieval history at Washburn University and lives in Lawrence, Kansas. For more information or to contact him, visit him at www.charlesanthonysilvestri.com.
The Importance of Voice in Trauma Transformation
Ronda Miller will ask attendees to share experiences that they have overcome through their writings. She will ask for the sharing of poetry or a short narrative paragraph that exemplifies healing through writing and offer suggestions as to how they can transform their attitude by changing their writing. Miller will utilize well-known authors’ works as well as writings of her own.
Miller is a Life Coach who specializes in working with clients who have lost a loved one to homicide. Her personal experiences with trauma include the deaths of her mother and a niece to suicide, the death of her father in a homicide, personal gun memories, an early life involving numerous moves and living situations, a kidnapping, separation from siblings, placement in the foster care system, adoption, physical and drug abuse, mental illness, and a subsequent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Gun Memories of a Stone-Eyed Cold Girl, MoonStain, WaterSigns, Winds of Time, and I Love the Child are books the author has written that show a lifetime progression of healing from early and ongoing trauma by utilization of Voice through poetry, narrative, and children’s stories.
"Publishing Children’s Books in Challenging Times"
Author Kim Luke once had to help a customer at her family’s Christmas tree farm chop down a fresh tree in a business suit and heels. It was no big deal, because that was the uniform of her marketing profession. But rather than chopping down Christmas trees, Kim is most comfortable in her writing space, spinning new adult fantasy tales and stories of a little mouse named Ollie that inhabits the new wedding venue space at The Enchanted Farm at Fort Osage. The latter is the trademark name for the mouse tales, a series of children’s chapter books. Kim has published three adult fantasy books in her Circle of Sun Series with a fourth one in progress, and three of the Enchanted Farm series, with a fourth in progress as well. Kim majored in literature in college and has always loved using her imagination and hearing a good story from others. She began writing in earnest at her mother’s bedside, before she succumbed to ALS. Kim and husband Bob operate a Christmas tree and elderberry farm in the Kansas City metro area (Blue Springs) and have been learning how to operate their new wedding venue with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
Children’s author Kimberly Stringer is an early childhood educator with more than 36 years’ experience. She is also an instructor for other teachers who specializes in promoting outdoor curriculum. Kimberly has coupled her love of gardening and teaching youngsters with her desire to be outdoors as much as possible. In fact, she has built her pre-school business in Wichita on those foundational principles. Stringer has published three children’s books with another three in progress. She loves public speaking and is driven by an overall goal of making sure that every child she encounters falls in love with learning.
Author Linda Paige Shelby is surprised to be referred to as an author. All she wanted to do when she published Satchel Paige at the State Fair, was tell a story from her childhood as the daughter of the famous Satchel Paige. Just as that book was copyrighted and released in 2020, the pandemic hit and her planned launches at the Major League Baseball stadiums and franchises her famous father played in had to be postponed. She is now picking up steam and hoping for rescheduled promotions in 2021. Linda was raised in Kansas City as one of eight children born to Satchel and Lahoma Paige. She is the mother of four, and a grandmother who enjoys cooking and gardening. Her daughter, China Shelby Smith, illustrated the book her mother wrote and attended the Detroit Institute of Art. Linda divides her time between her clerical work and the intense work of preserving her father’s
legacy as a baseball great through the Satchel Paige Foundation she formed.
Illustrator and Author Lila Bartel is retired from a 47-year teaching career that ended with a lengthy tenure in Topeka High School teaching gifted students. Lila has also spent almost a lifetime as a watercolor artist. In 2018 she published several of her watercolors in a book she wrote called What Was God Thinking. The book was originally intended to be used as a discussion piece for children in Sunday Schools, but she quickly found many adults loved it as well. Soon after his own book hit the market, Kimberly Stringer commissioned her to illustrate her first book, Loving Lauren. Lila graduated from Bethel College with a degree in English Literature and a minor in speech. Her master’s degree is in gifted education from Kansas State University. She began drawing and painting in 1990 when her oldest child left for college. Art became her new passion and she studied with talented local and national artists. Portraits of children have become her favorite subject. She is an active member of the Topeka Art Guild and her paintings have been exhibited in commercial and public spaces for several years.
Poetry as Play, Poetry as Healing
No poetry writing experience necessary for this workshop as we explore how writing with poetic elements can be for enjoyment as well as for coping with grief, loss, or trauma. The facilitator will lead with his own examples and stories about writing in a friendly, nonjudgmental, and open environment. Sharing poems is optional, but participants will leave with poems and ideas for further writing.
Dennis Etzel Jr. is Senior Lecturer of English at Washburn University, Topeka, and is known for his poetry. He does his best to practice antiracist, antisexist, anti-ableist, pro-LGBTQA+, pro-human acts and practices. https://washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping/ etzel/
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” —Audre Lorde