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Women Writers Conference
Brings Major Authors to UK

By Kathy Johnson


Jewell Parker Rhodes

Among the conference participants are Susan Seligson, freelance journalist and author of “Going with the Grain;” Ruth Ozeki, documentary filmmaker and author of the provocative “My Year of Meats;” Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of several critically acclaimed novels and short stories including “Douglass’ Women;” Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in India; and Vertamae Grosvenor, poet, actress, culinary anthropologist and National Public Radio correspondent. UK professors and authors participating include Nikky Finney, Susan Bordo and Kim Edwards.

Feb. 4, 2003 (Lexington, Ky.) -- The 2003 Kentucky Women Writers Conference (KYWWC) will feature local, national and international authors who use food as a primary organizing device in their writing. The theme of the conference, set for March 27-29 in Lexington, is “A Feast of Words: Nourishing the Mind and Body.”

“We have 20 authors coming this year, making this the largest conference we’ve ever had,” said Brenda Weber, associate director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Kentucky and director of the conference.

This year marks the return of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference to UK after a five-year absence. Last year, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. authorized funding for the conference director position.

The conference is divided into three categories. “Food-for-Thought” features authors who use food as a central reference point for their work; “Food-as-Metaphor” features authors who focus on what it means to eat, to desire, to hunger and to consume; and “Food-as-Culture” features authors who use food as a way of thinking about social change and intellectual awareness.

Among the conference participants are Susan Seligson, freelance journalist and author of “Going with the Grain;” Ruth Ozeki, documentary filmmaker and author of the provocative “My Year of Meats;” Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of several critically acclaimed novels and short stories including “Douglass’ Women;” Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in India; and Vertamae Grosvenor, poet, actress, culinary anthropologist and National Public Radio correspondent. UK professors and authors participating include Nikky Finney, Susan Bordo and Kim Edwards.

Other events are planned leading up to the conference including several book discussions at The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in downtown Lexington. Those are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6; Monday, Feb. 24; and Monday, March 10. All begin at 7 p.m.

UK Student Activities Board is sponsoring a visual arts exhibit, titled “A Feast of Images,” Feb. 21-March 31 in the Rasdall Gallery of the UK Student Center. Five of the authors featured in the conference are visual artists and their works will be on display, including paintings, photographs, films and designs. A free opening reception will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at the Rasdall Gallery as part of the Lexington Gallery Hop.

A special dinner, A Feast Before the Feast, is planned for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 – the night before the conference begins – at Holly Hill Inn in Midway. This fund-raising event will feature three authors from the conference. Seating is limited. The cost is $65, and tickets are available only in advance by calling (859) 257-8734.

The third annual Betty Gabehart writing competition in the areas of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction also is under way. The winner in each category will receive $100 and the chance to read his or her work at the conference. The fee is $10 per entry, and the entry deadline is March 1. All submissions can be mailed to Betty Gabehart Prize, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, P.O. Box 1042, Lexington, KY 40588. Gabehart is a former director of the conference.

Read-a-Rama, the first of what is expected to become an annual event to help raise funds for the KYWWC, is scheduled for Sept. 20 at Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon restaurant in Lexington. Those attending can enjoy a buffet meal while hearing local authors, celebrities, politicians, students and teachers read different works.

A complete schedule of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and related events is available at the conference Web site at www.uky.edu/Conferences/KYWWC.


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