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Thank you for a fantastic Gathering!

We'll see you again next year!

Friday-Sunday, March 23–25

The Marriott

425 N Cherry Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

with volunteer support from
North Carolina Poetry Society & Winston-Salem Writers
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The 2018 Press 53 Gathering of Poets is expanding, offering more workshops and readings throughout the weekend, and tables for writing organizations and small press publishers of poetry. Read our schedule and then design your own weekend of poetry!

2018 Schedule

Friday, March 23, 7 PM

Bright Leaf Books—Open Mic

Everyone is welcome to our kick-off open mic poetry reading with Winston-Salem Writers’ host Ed Robson at Bright Leaf Books, 227 W. Fifth Street, just around the corner from the Marriott. Sign-up will begin at 6:30 and poets will have five minutes each. Our mascot Winston will make sure everyone stays on track so we will all enjoy the evening.

Saturday, March 24, 9AM-5PM

The Downtown Marriott

A Day of Workshops and Readings

8 AM: Check-in opens

9 AM – Noon and 2– 5 PM: Design Your Day

Workshops: Choose one, two, three, or four. Each workshop runs one hour and fifteen minutes. Cost is $20 per workshop and limited to 20 poets in each workshop.

One-on-One Critique Sessions (Sorry, all sessions are sold out): Send up to three poems in advance and then sit down privately with your selected poetry editor for an in-depth critique and discussion. Each session runs 25 minutes. Cost is $30.

Poetry in Plain Sight Lounge: Open to the public. Attend open and free poetry readings and discussions throughout the day. Operated by Poetry in Plain Sight, a Winston-Salem Writers-North Carolina Poetry Society program. The schedule will be posted at the event.

Vendors: Meet publishers and editors of poetry books and journals. Also visit tables for North Carolina writing organizations.

Open lunch period from Noon – 2PM: Instead of providing lunch this year, we will provide a list of restaurants within walking distance from the event, or stay in and dine at Graze, the restaurant in the Marriott featuring locally grown and raised items.

7 PM: Faculty Reading

Our faculty will read at Bookmarks Bookstore, a short walk from the hotel at 634 W. Fourth Street. Browse the store before and after the reading, and grab a beverage at the Foothills Brewery Café.

Sunday, March 25, 10-Noon

The Marriott

Sunday Seminar with Tom Lombardo

Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo will lead a presentation and discussion of Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy, the first Scot, woman, and openly gay poet to be appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Cost is $10 to attend this lively presentation and discussion.

Sunday, March 25, 2 PM

Downtown Winston-Salem Forsyth County Public Library

660 W. 5th Street

Book launch reading of Beasts of Eden by Michael Beadle; Irish poet Adrian Rice reading from The Clock Flower and Hickory Station; world traveler Ann Herlong-Bodman reading from Loose in Far-away Places.


2018 Press 53 Gathering of Poets Faculty and workshops

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Grammar: The Way to Intensity in Poems with Ginger Murchison

Explore with me the ways grammar works to do much of the heavy lifting to build intensity, sharpen images, write crisper and fresher lines, and add energy to our poems, supporting what poets have known all along: that a poem is indeed a made thing.

Ginger Murchison is the author of a scrap of linen, a bone (Press 53, 2016) She started writing poetry after a thirty-one-year teaching career and earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Together with Thomas Lux, she helped found Poetry@TECH at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as associate director for five years and as one of its Visiting McEver Chairs in Poetry. Ginger is Editor-in-Chief of the acclaimed Cortland Review. She lives with her husband Clyde Mynatt in Ft. Myers, Florida.

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Reverse the Curse with Glenis Redmond

This workshop uses a Lucille Clifton poem to reframe negatives into  positives. Yet, this Poetic Blessing is not the easy way out. It encourages participants to face the shadow-side in their lives and through this particular lens offer it to the light.

Glenis Redmond is the author of What My Hand Say (Press 53). She travels nationally and internationally reading and teaching poetry so much that she has earned the title “Road Warrior Poet.” She has posts as the Poet-in-Residence at The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina, and also at State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. During February 2016, at the request of the U.S. State Department for their Speaker's Bureau, Glenis traveled to Muscat, Oman, to teach a series of poetry workshops and perform poetry for Black History Month. In 2014-16, Glenis served as the Mentor Poet for the National Student Poet's Program to prepare students to read at the Library of Congress, the Department of Education, and for First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House. Glenis is a Cave Canem Fellow, a North Carolina Literary Fellowship Recipient, and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist. She also helped create the first Writer-in-Residence at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Glenis believes that poetry is a healer, and she can be found in the trenches across the world applying pressure to those in need, one poem at a time.

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Life of the Elegy with Jacinta V. White

In this workshop we will look at the craft of the elegy. How do we take pain and memory and turn it into poetry? Whether lamenting someone or the state of the world, we will look at the place of elegies in today's time by examining contemporary poets' work. There will also be time for writing. 

Jacinta V. White is the author of broken ritual (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and the publisher and poetry editor of internationally acclaimed Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing.  The founder of The Word Project, Jacinta facilitates writing works and retreats with individuals and groups using poetry as a catalyst of healing. She is a 2017 recipient of the Duke Regional Artist Grant through the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth Co.; and she was the first place winner of Press 53’s first Open Award in Poetry contest (now the Prime Number Magazine Awards). Jacinta has received many grants and recognition for her work, is published in a number of magazines and journals, and has recently been awarded a residency at 100 W. Corsicana in TX to focus on her collection of poems inspired by the history of rural, Southern African American churches and cemeteries.

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Feeling Your Way to Meaning in a Poem with John Gosslee

We’re going in-depth on what makes a strong line anyone can identify and take meaning from. We’ll discuss where to break a line and the minutia of how a sentence feels before it means. We’ll also talk about reinventing how the main subject of a poem is expressed, while extending the poem-reader conversation after the poem is read.poem is expressed, while extending the poem-reader conversation after the poem is read.

John Gosslee edits PANK, Fjords Review, and directs C&R Press. His latest books are Analog (Unicorn Press, 2017) and a book of contemporary poetry redaction, Out of Context (Press Otherwise, 2017). His poetry appears in Yale Review, Poetry Ireland, Gulf Coast, Prelude, London Journal of Fiction and many other magazines and journals.

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Writing the Artefactual Poem with Joseph Bathanti

This is essentially a class in Ekphrasis (in this case ekphrastic poetry), “a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art”—as defined by The Poetry Foundation. But, for the purposes of this class, I’d like to broaden the definition of what we’ll engage in, in order to accommodate other texts apart from what we think of as typical works of art. In Literary Theory, a text is any object that can be read, whether this object is a work of literature, photograph (typically written about in ekphrastic poems), clothing, a matchbook, postcard, film, even a baseball glove, or wristwatch, you name it—since all these texts embody stories, conjure language specific to them, and are often tied to memory and/or place. To demystify the above: you’ll essentially be writing about an artefact(s)/ object(s) to which you have deep personal connections, not only describing/ representing it, but also charting your autobiographical associations with it—the multi-layered story it triggers and embodies how you’re influenced and informed, even obsessed, by it. I’ll bring to class examples of representative poems for us to examine and discuss and I’d like you to, please, bring artefacts/texts you’d like to write about during the sessions. Participants will come away with a draft of a poem or two, maybe three.

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, North Carolina.

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The Art of the Tonal Shift with Katie Chaple

What can shifting the tone in a poem accomplish? It can invigorate, revitalize a poem, and it can certainly change the direction of a poem. The technique of the tonal shift can be a way of breathing life into a poem and of grasping the reader or heightening the reader’s attention. The shift can be subtle or overt; it can be an up- or down-shift. Often, the shift activates surprise in the reader—the good kind. In this workshop, we’ll examine multiple poems that make excellent use of this technique and participants will have opportunities to test out this element of craft by producing new drafts as well as implementing the tonal shift in poems that are still under construction. Participants are invited to bring a few poems that they are working on and/or struggling with.

Katie Chaple is the author of Pretty Little Rooms (Press 53, August 2011), winner of the 2012 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry through Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She is editor of Terminus Magazine, published through Georgia Tech and also serves as the McEver Chair in Community Outreach with Poetry @ TECH. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Antioch Review, Blackbird, Crab Orchard Review, Five Points, Greensboro Review, Mead, New South, Passages North, StorySouth, The Rumpus, Washington Square, and others. She teaches at the University of West Georgia.

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Un-prosing Your Poetry with Travis Denton

We've all been in workshop and received the comment that our darling poem sounds prosy—such a dreaded word for a poet.  We’ll take a close look at what makes poems sing and what makes them simply “talk and drone on.” From narrowing the scope of our subject matter and defining theessentials of the poetic moment, we’ll cover the elements which all good poems must include, with a not-so-basic nuts and bolts approach to what makes a poem. The workshop participants will have the opportunity to write new work, and are also encouraged to bring a poem in progress. 

Travis Wayne Denton lives in Atlanta where he is the Associate Director of Poetry @ TECH as well as McEver Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech. He is also founding editor of the literary arts publication, Terminus Magazine. His poems have appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies, like Barrow StreetFive Points, Ghost Town, MEAD: a magazine of literature and libations, The Greensboro Review, Washington Square, Forklift, Rattle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and the Cortland Review. His second collection of poems, When Pianos Fall from the Sky, was published by Marick Press.

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Searching The Hiding Places: Mining Memory with Adrian Rice

In The Prelude, William Wordsworth alludes to “the hiding places” of his “power,” which in his youth had “stood open,” then gradually narrowed to “glimpses,” and, with age, threatened to cloud over altogether.  While still able, he wished to “give a substance and a life” to what he felt.  In Feelings Into Words, Seamus Heaney claims Wordsworth is talking here of “poetry as divination”; of  “poetry as revelation of the self to the self”; and— so aptly Heaneyesque—of “poetry as a dig.”  Join me on this workshop adventure to search the hiding places of poetic power for the likes of Wordsworth and Heaney, and then to mine our own memories to unearth some hidden gems.

Adrian Rice is from Belfast. He graduated from the University of Ulster with a BA in English & Politics, and MPhil in Anglo-Irish Literature. He has delivered writing workshops, readings, and lectures throughout Europe, and the U.S. His poems first appeared in Muck Island (1990), a collaboration with leading Irish artist, Ross Wilson. Copies of this limited edition box-set of poems and images are housed in The Tate Gallery, and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The Mason’s Tongue (1999) was shortlisted for the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Literary Prize, nominated for the Irish Times Prize for Poetry, and translated into Hungarian. Adrian was Visiting Writer-in-Residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2005.  His family has settled in Hickory, from where he commutes to Boone for Doctoral studies at Appalachian State University, and to teach on the First Year Seminar Program. The Clock Flower (2013), and Hickory Station (2015), are both published by Press 53. A poem from Hickory Station, “Breath,” was a Pushcart Prize nomination. The Strange Estate: New & Selected Poems 1990-2018 is due from Press 53 in spring, 2018.


One-on-One Critique Sessions

 One spot remaining at 11:30AM!

Barbara Presnell is the author of Blue Star (Press 53) and five other collections of poems, including Piece Work, which won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize and was adapted for stage by the Touring Theatre of North Carolina. She has been awarded fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and has held residencies at Willapa Bay, Wildacres Retreat, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Soapstone, Inc. A native of Asheboro, North Carolina, she teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and lives in Lexington, North Carolina, with her husband, Bill Keesler.

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Terry L. Kennedy is the author of the poetry collection New River Breakdown and the limited edition chapbook, Until the Clouds Shatter the Light that Plates Our Lives. His work appears in a variety of journals and magazines including Cave Wall, Prime Number, and Southern Review. He currently serves as the Associate Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at UNCG and as Editor of the online journal storySouth.

 Two spots remaining!

Tom Lombardo, of Atlanta, Georgia, is editor of Tom Lombardo Poetry Selections, a Press 53 imprint. Tom actively reads journals, magazines, ezines, and anthologies in search of poets to bring to Press 53 by way of his poetry series. Tom is a widely published and respected poet, and is a graduate of the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. His mission is to bring 4-6 poetry collections to Press 53 each year. He has published two collections of his own poetry: What Bends Us Blue (WordTech, 2013) and The Name of This Game (Kattywompus Press, 2014). In 2008, Tom edited and published After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events (Press 53), which features 152 poems by 115 poets from 15 countries. 

 Three spots remaining!

Valerie Nieman’s second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy, was published in 2015. She has held poetry and fiction fellowships from the NEA, North Carolina and West Virginia arts councils, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her work has been anthologized most recently in Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods from WVU Press and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology, due out in March from University of Georgia Press. She has received the Flyleaf Books poetry prize, in 2017, as well as the Greg Grummer, Byron Herbert Reece, and Nazim Hikmet poetry prizes. She has published three novels, the most recent being Blood Clay, winner of the Eric Hoffer Prize in General Fiction, and a collection of short stories. Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A former journalist, she was a founding editor of two literary magazines and now teaches writing at North Carolina A&T State University.