Women Writers Conference Celebrates 25th

Contact: Kathy Johnson

 

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Another new feature of the KYWWC this year is the addition of the Nell Stuart Donovan Exhibit Series, which will host an annual one-woman show of a world-class artist and is made possible by a generous grant from the Donovan Trust. This year’s inaugural exhibit hosts one of Great Britain’s most prominent photojournalists, Harriet Logan. Her collection of documentary photographs of Afghani women under Taliban rule from her book “Unveiled: Voices of Women in Afghanistan” will be on display at both the UK Art Museum and the Ann Tower Gallery.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 16, 2004) -- One of the most celebrated voices in jazz history, Shirley Horn, will make a rare performance to help the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (KYWWC) celebrate its 25th anniversary as the oldest writers conference of its kind in the country. The conference is scheduled for March 25 through March 27 in Lexington, Ky.

“The Kentucky Women Writers Conference, based at the University of Kentucky, is partnering with the city of Lexington and UK to offer an unprecedented number of readings, workshops, panel discussions, receptions, exhibits, screenings and concerts – all with acclaimed women writers and artists of global interest and renown,” said Rebecca Howell, director of the KYWWC.

All events will take place on the UK campus and other locations in Lexington. The full conference fee of $125 will cover all events, and individual day or event fees also are available. For more information, access the KYWWC Web site or call (859) 257-6420.

The Shirley Horn Trio concert will end the conference on a high note Saturday evening, March 27, in the UK Singletary Center for the Arts. Horn, who has won countless awards in her career, including a Grammy and most recently was voted #1 female vocalist in the New York Jazz Critics Awards, continues to record but offers a very limited live performance schedule due to health concerns.

“We are proud to have Ms. Horn bring one of these rare and extraordinary performances to UK in a special final tribute to our 25th anniversary,” said Howell.

The concert is part of a grand finale that includes the first of a permanent addition to the conference, that of the Hardwick/Jones Reading Series named in honor of literary giants and Lexington natives Elizabeth Hardwick and Gayl Jones. Each year the keynote reading will host a major national writer and a major emerging writer upon whom the former has had a lasting influence.

“This year we are fortunate to have two of the most important African-American women writers of our time,” said Howell. “That Saturday night we will be hosting history itself when we welcome Sonia Sanchez and the great Shirley Horn in the same extraordinary evening.”

Individual tickets are available for the grand finale, which includes a 6 p.m. reception/signing with the authors, followed by the reading at 7 p.m. and the concert which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets, $35 for the general public and $25 for students, are available through the Singletary Center Ticket Office at (859) 257-4929.

Another new feature of the KYWWC this year is the addition of the Nell Stuart Donovan Exhibit Series, which will host an annual one-woman show of a world-class artist and is made possible by a generous grant from the Donovan Trust. This year’s inaugural exhibit hosts one of Great Britain’s most prominent photojournalists, Harriet Logan. Her collection of documentary photographs of Afghani women under Taliban rule from her book “Unveiled: Voices of Women in Afghanistan” will be on display at both the UK Art Museum and the Ann Tower Gallery.

Logan also will present the UK Art Museum’s Robert C. May Lecture at 4 p.m. Friday, March 26, in Worsham Theatre located in the UK Student Center. A reception with the artist will follow this lecture at the Ann Tower Gallery. Both events are free to the public.

The Writers Block Party, a festival in downtown Lexington to celebrate women writers, also is new this year. Made possible by a new partnership between the Lexington Public Library, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the Downtown Lexington Corporation, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, and the KYWWC, the Writers Block Party will feature a number of public exhibits and offerings at many participating businesses and music and art venues.

Among them is a full screening of the acclaimed film “Monsoon Wedding” at
6 p.m. at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, followed by an Indian feast at the Lexington Public Library. A discussion with the film’s screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan will precede the dinner. Tickets are $10 and are available through the conference office at (859) 257-6420.

A free event at 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 26, will feature three of the conference participants reading from their works in the Lexington Public Library rotunda. This event, The New World Reading, will include globally acclaimed authors Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (an award-winning author and poet whose work has been translated into 11 languages), Yoko Tawada (winner of the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s equivalent of an American Pulitzer), and Rebecca Walker (author and social activist who was named by Time Magazine as one of the fifty future leaders of America).

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference was established at the University of Kentucky in 1979 in an effort to bring world-class writers and thinkers to Central Kentucky. Among the presenters at the first conference were Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, and Ruth Whitman.

The KYWWC was based at UK until 1998 when the university made the decision to no longer support it due to budgetary constraints. The conference returned to UK in late 2002 after UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. provided funding at the urging of his newly created President’s Commission on Women.

“The theme of this year’s conference, History in the Making: Choosing to Participate, honors the many volunteers and institutional partnerships that have kept the conference alive and strong these past 25 years,” Howell said. “The conference thrives today because people continue to come together to make it a vital event in our community and in our nation.”


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