Posts Tagged With: Kentucky

What I’ve learned from Kentucky writers

Our state has phenomenal writers. Is it the beautiful landscape which inspires our stories? Or is it really something in the water? Some will tell you it’s the supportive literary community found here in Kentucky. Whatever the reason, Kentucky has a number of writers topping the bestseller lists and winning national awards.

I’ve been fortunate to learn from several of them through readings, workshops, and conferences at the Carnegie Center where I work. I’ve gained an education on how to be a better writer, and thought I’d share some of my favorite writing advice with you.

At the Books-in-Progress Conference last year, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Barbara Kingsolver said that the first draft of a novel is always “crap.”  Revision is “making it less crappy.”  Do you know how much better I felt hearing this woman who can write such eloquent and well-crafted words share her honest opinion of her own drafts? There’s hope for us all if we revise, revise, revise!

New York Times Bestselling thriller writer Will Lavender teaches intense workshops on how to start your novel. For many writers, finding where the story really begins and how to begin it is one of the most difficult parts of writing. He recommends studying how successful writers begin their stories. None of them did an information dump or included pages of back story. Often, the first sentences alone provide the hook that makes the reader want to discover what happens next in the story. (Just pull out a novel by former Kentucky Poet Laureate Sena Jeter Naslund; her first sentences always strike me as perfect).

I’ve seen more than a couple of published authors use national award-winning author George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem to inspire workshop attendees to write and write well. The trick is to add specific details that both tell the reader what kind of person your character is and what the character’s life is like. It’s a list poem that tells a story, and teaches us that details add spice to our writing.

Affrilachian poet Crystal Wilkinson knows about characterization. She says if you don’t know what your character would eat for breakfast, then you don’t yet know your character, even if you think your novel is finished. For ideas on building characters, she suggests we take note of the people we see while we’re sitting in rush hour traffic, standing in a crowded room, or passing someone on the sidewalk.  The little details that stick about the people we meet “are the details that were meant to be stuck,” she says. And those details are what breathe life into a character.

At any stage of our writing and writing careers, there is always something to be learned about the craft. Sign up for the Kentucky Literary Newsletter to learn about literary opportunities across the state. As many published writers have said, make time to hone your craft, and no matter what, keep writing!

Jennifer Hester Mattox, Carnegie Center development director & coordinator of the Kentucky Great Writers Series

Categories: Literary Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can a poem still change anything?

On January 22, 2013, the day Alexandra Petri asked this question in an article titled “Is poetry dead?,” seven people in Lexington, Ky., were tattooed with words of their choice from a poem Bianca Spriggs had written as a love letter to, about, and for Lexington.

On the pages of the Washington Post, Petri responded to her own question without skipping a beat: “I think the medium might not be loud enough any longer.” In Lexington, Andreea McClintock and Sonya Sisk showed up at Charmed Life Tattoo at 3 p.m. after carefully rearranging their work schedules in the ER. Because they are friends, they wanted to get their poetic tattoos together.

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Can a poem change anything?

Titled “The _______ of the Universe: A Love Story,” Bianca’s poem challenges the belief that poetry is outdated, irrelevant, and useless, that you might as well put it out of its misery by donating the whole genre to a book drive to be shipped some place where no one speaks its language.

Bianca started her poem by inviting everyone to write with her on her Facebook page. Asking people to fill in the blank of “Lexington is the ______ of the Universe” was like offering free tickets to the opening day of Keeneland, take the grandstand seats and remember the sunscreen!  (“the opening day of Keeneland” became part of the poem when Bianca asked folks to tell her their most beloved places in Lexington.)

At 496 words, including the title, Bianca’s poem is already spread across 247 bodies, soon to be 249. Each day, Bianca’s words stretch, go for a brisk morning run in the dark, carry a newborn, bake chocolate-bacon cookies, drink buttered-rum flavored coffee, and do all the things that make up our daily lives. On January 22 at 2 p.m., Kate Hadfield got tattooed with “and were so busy,” a phrase that reminds her of her ever-busy life as a poet and dancer. When Kate dances, Bianca’s words refuse to sit still; they absolutely refuse to die.

Reading Bianca’s poem is, more often than not, a public act: one that takes place in public and makes it necessary to look at skin, ink, and hair, not yellowing pages. “Hello, fried delicacies!” we shout to Hampton Fisher whose tattoo might just be the funniest. At 8 p.m. on January 22, Mikey Wells got “from” — a word he chose to remind him of where he comes from. Like many others who received Bianca’s words as tattoos, Mikey does not hesitate to take his right shoe off, revealing his part of the whole. His tattoo makes you wonder, “from where?” Mikey is from Lexington.

Can a poem still change anything?

Bianca’s poem—spread like a city-wide mural over 249 bodies—changes our ideas about poetry, tattoos, art and love. “The ________ of the Universe” changes our ideas about a city large enough to adopt so many willing to sink deep roots in Bluegrass soil.

Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova

****Note: This blog entry is 496 words long, the same length as Bianca’s poem. Reading “The ________ of the Universe” after this blog entry should make it clear that poetry can get a lot more mileage per word than prose.

Categories: Literary Arts, Other | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tempt Your Senses: Feel

With over 200 exhibitors working in wood, paint, silver, wool, chocolate, clay, silk and much more, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a sense explosion. That’s why we chose “tempt your senses” as this year’s theme. We dare you to come to the Lexington Convention Center on March 2 – 3 and be tempted by all of the music, textures, smells, sights and tastes offered by Kentucky’s best artists and crafts people.  It will be impossible to walk away empty handed.

A complete arts experience includes an opportunity to be actively involved in the creative process. The Kentucky Arts Council has invited two of the Commonwealth’s finest education-driven arts institutions to design activities for families, kids, adults and anyone who wants to get hands on some art.

Living Arts and Science Center

Two events for two days of hands-on fun at The Market. On Saturday, repurpose T-shirts into beaded market bags to aid you in your shopping extravaganza. On Sunday, create one-of-a-kind artworks through the fun and tactile process of wet-felting. Activities are noon – 3 p.m. both days. Visitors on either day also have the opportunity to view—and touch—the center’s engaging, hands-on exhibit, Evolving Traditions.
Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Explorium of Lexington

Come take a swing on our cool paint pendulum to create art and learn about the laws of physics. Demonstrate energy conservation and make a masterpiece in minutes with tempera paint and paper. When science meets art, it can only result in fun and discovery.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Are your sense tempted, yet? For more peeks and previews, check out our titillating Pinterest board.

Pinterest

Categories: Arts Education, Other | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tempt Your Senses: Hear

With over 200 exhibitors working in wood, paint, silver, wool, chocolate, clay, silk and much more, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a sense explosion. That’s why we chose “tempt your senses” as this year’s theme. We dare you to come to the Lexington Convention Center on March 2 – 3 and be tempted by all of the music, textures, smells, sights and tastes offered by Kentucky’s best artists and crafts people.  It will be impossible to walk away empty handed.

The moment you walk into the Market – even before you purchase your pass – you will notice that art is everywhere. Although buying and selling visual art is the Market’s main purpose, it’s not the sole purpose. The arts council uses this versatile venue to create all kinds of arts experiences: literary art, folk and traditional arts and performing arts. The Kentucky Stage, located in the atrium of the convention center, features a full schedule of diverse musicians from across the state. Not only can we we boast the Commonwealth’s finest art and craft, we also present Kentucky’s most accomplished live performers for the price of your admission. If you like what you hear, you can step over to the Marketplace and purchase CDs.

Hog Operation – Saturday, March 2, 2 p.m.

Hog Operation uses bluegrass instrumentation to explore a variety of American musical styles from reels to rock ‘n’ roll. They play original music as well as country standards and bluegrass arrangements of popular songs. Audiences can expect to hear their favorite bluegrass sounds but should also be prepared for pleasant surprises. Each musician – Larry Raley, Mike Schroeder, John Hawkins and Steve Cooley – is accomplished in his own right. When they play together the sound can be described simply as “tight.” Come early to hear Steve Cooley discuss how he keeps the stringed instruments – that are so vital to the unique bluegrass sound – playing the sweetest possible notes. At 1 p.m., the Kentucky Stage will feature a live interview with Steve, Donna Lamb, Art Mize, Arthur Hatfield and Walter Lay – all Kentucky luthiers who make or repair banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and more.

Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers  Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m.

It began 25 years ago in Covington’s Ninth Street Baptist Church when Ric Jennings formed an a capella quartet from members of their men’s choir. The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers earned most of their chops in the church and some on the street corners, and the result is uniquely northern Kentucky.  Although they have performed all over the United States and Europe, they are true to the sound created in their community and play local churches,  song services, sacred music events and even anniversaries. In addition to their gospel repertoire, they also sing R&B favorites and other popular tunes. They take the Kentucky Stage on Saturday afternoon, but it may feel like Sunday morning as they “inspire feelings of fellowship and recreate the jubilant atmosphere of their home church.”

Appalatin  Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m.

The name Appalatin (as you may have guessed) is a portmanteau of Appalachian and Latin. True to their name, they blend the music of their home regions to create a sound that is – above all other labels and definitions – music of the world and 21st century Kentucky. Appalatin is artistic proof that no matter our culture of origin, our ways of expression have much in common. Old-time string, blues, bluegrass, Spanish-style guitar, bachata, cumbia – it all has roots. Their sound obviously speaks to more than just Appalachians and Latinos. With a musical mission “to bring a message of a fair and just world, one of hope, joy and love,” Appalatin have a popular sound and a strong following that can be seen in the results of their recent Kickstarter campaign to produce their new album. To date, they have made 150 percent of their goal with donors pledging as much as $1,500. Their campaign doesn’t even end until March 10, 2013. Now that is real listener buy-in!

Real World String Band – Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m.

Reel World String Band

Reel World String Band

Trouble in Mind

Early in their careers, this “all-girl act” was considered a novelty in mainstream music. But people who knew better saw that they were just darn good musicians. Lily May Ledford once said of the band, “You don’t see many people up on stage who’ve got fire. But you girls have got it. Lord, you girls are good!” This so-called novelty has thrived for over 35 years, and Kentucky is truly fortunate to have the members of the Reel World String Band as  native daughters. With rousing harmonies, the band makes music rooted in the Appalachian tradition while representing and championing Kentuckians through their songs. They are each masters of their instruments and treasures born of Kentucky’s arts and cultural heritage.

These are just a few of the performers you can experience on the Kentucky Stage. For a complete listing, look at the lineup in the Market program.

Market Program

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Are your sense tempted yet? For more peeks and previews, check out our titillating Pinterest board.

Categories: Other, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tempt Your Senses: Taste

With over 200 exhibitors working in wood, paint, silver, wool, chocolate, clay, silk and much more, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a sense explosion. That’s why we chose “tempt your senses” as this year’s theme. We dare you to come to the Lexington Convention Center on March 2 – 3 and be tempted by all of the music, textures, smells, sights and tastes offered by Kentucky’s best artists and crafts people.  It will be impossible to walk away empty handed.

Elmwood Inn Fine Teas – Booth 165

Elmwood Inn Fine Teas

Tea containers are attractive and made of recycled paper. Elmwood Inn promises to be “your cup of serenity.”

I can personally attest to the temptations imparted by the Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. I am a coffee person, but in 2012 my nose followed the steam from steeping leaves all the way to their booth at the Market. If you follow the scent in 2013, you will not be disappointed. Elmwood offers several product lines including white, green and black teas, Ayurvedic blends, Oolongs, flavored teas, private labels, and herbals and infusions. Teas can be purchased loose or in sachets. If you’re new to tea culture and want to know how best to brew your new purchases, Elmwood also offers tea seminars and prints publications through their Benjamin Press book division.

Brownings Country Ham – Booth 159

Kentucky Proud vendor, Brownings Country Ham - Booth 159

Smoky, salty and farm-fresh, country ham is a Kentucky tradition best served on biscuits. Brownings sells those too.

When you taste country ham, the initial flavor is saltiness. But the best hams give you so much more. The year spent curing should leave the ham with flavors  only developed through age and atmosphere just like wine, fine cheeses and pickled vegetables. A good country ham should be “educated.” Since 1970, Brownings has offered hams, cuts and slices that don’t overwhelm the palate with salt, but are “just rich, wholesome, and cured to perfection.” If country ham is still not your thing, Brownings also cures premium bacons, which are wholly in fashion right now.

Cellar Door Chocolates – Booth 157

Cellar Door Chocolates

Meet the champagne truffle. It’s made of luxury, extravagance and chocolate.

I doubt that I need to try very hard to tempt readers with chocolate. Chocolate has long been associated with desire, decadence and even wantonness. Hold on to your seats, because Cellar Door takes the “the food of the gods” to a whole new level with flavor pairings that cannot be ignored or refused. Cayenne pepper, wasabi pea, imperial stout, licorice and green chile combine with cocoa to make delicious truffles and barks. The results are novel tastes that could only happen in a global economy and stimulating, ancient flavors from Mesoamerica.

Boone Creek Creamery – Booth 505

Wildcat Blue

Rhapsody En Bleu – what she lacks in beauty she makes up in good “taste.”

These cheeses are made old-world style, but the product is completely Kentucky – right down to the grass that the cows eat. And in this case, geography doesn’t limit variety. Boone Creek Creamery creates over 40 different varieties in season, including homages to Kentucky like wildcat blue, Kentucky Derby (infused with bourbon) and blackberry serenade (gruyere infused with blackberry wine).

Applecreek Orchards – Booth 507 

Applecreek Orchards

The “fruit” from this orchard can go on your sundae with flavors like bourbon caramel and amaretto fudge.

As you might expect, Applecreek Orchard offers sweet and sticky jams and preserves including blackberry, seedless red raspberry, strawberry, amaretto cherry, bourbon cherry and peach with maraschino cherries. However, they also produce tasty barbecue sauces, fruit butters, dessert toppings, marinades, salsas and relishes. Anything you make – sweet or savory – Applecreek Farms can make it a little better.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Are your sense tempted, yet? For more peeks and previews, check out our titillating Pinterest board.

Pinterest

Categories: Other | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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