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Poetry Festival

The Betty June Silconas Center at Sussex County Community College will be the setting for the Poetry Festival, Saturday, June 9 in the Performing Arts Center Atrium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event will include an all-day book fair featuring local poets, literary readings, and workshops. Registration and breakfast begin at 9:00 a.m.

  • 9 a.m.-10 a.m.: Registration and Breakfast
  • 10 a.m.-Noon: Panel Discussion with Guest Poets: Roberto Garcia, Paul Genega, & Yesenia Montilla (Registration and event fee required for panel discussion)
  • Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch and Open Reading – everyone invited!
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Guest Poet Reading
  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Launch Reading for The Stillwater Review, Volume 8
  • All-day Book Fair– Come meet our local poets

The Writer’s Workshop includes:
Renee Ashley“What Risk Is”: Dream Logic in the Poem with Renée Ashley: There’s prose-logic, there’s poem-logic, and there’s dream-logic. Let’s break out of our prose-logic mind for a bit to see if we can put a dent in our daily poetic decorum—not for the value of shock but for the experience of surprise. Poem-logic and dream-logic have a lot in common; let’s let those shared elements have a field day, unleashed and in the same field. Risk is in learning how to play again! And the value of a prompt is to bust you out of your own decorum’s jail.

RENÉE ASHLEY‘s recent books are The View from the Body (Black Lawrence Press) and Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize, University of Colorado – Boulder). She has received fellowships in poetry and prose from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation by the artist Larry Kirkland in Penn Station, NYC. Ashley teaches in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her collection of essays, Minglements: Prose on Poetry and Life, will be published in the fall of 2018.

JC Todd“The Generator”: Writing and Caring for Early Drafts of Poems with J. C. Todd: They’re called “early attempts,” “pre-writes,” “shitty drafts,” and worse. But truly they are the first appearance of your words, your sensibility, your personal images and questions and quests. They are not replicable or replaceable.  Why are we so hard on them? This workshop includes prompts, writing and optional sharing to provoke unexpected drafts filled with fresh air. We’ll learn ways to begin with a leap. Bring your digital device (-pad, -pod, lap-) or paper and pen/pencil.

J.C. TODD offers poetry workshops through the Dodge Poetry Program and other venues and was named a Distinguished Teaching Artist by the New Jersey Arts Council. Her recent books are On Foot/By Hand and FUBAR, artist book collaborations (Lucia Press), and What Space This Body (Wind Publications). Winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, she has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, VCCA and the Pew, UCross, Ragdale and Leeway foundations. Poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.

Jane Wohl“No ideas but in things”: Developing Concrete Imagery in Poetry with Jane Wohl:
William Carlos Williams famously said, “No ideas but in things,” when he was talking about imagery in poems. Anyone who knows Williams’ work knows his own use of clear imagery. Too often writers get bogged down in abstract language, especially when they are attempting to write about big ideas. This workshop will help writers of all skill levels work on creating clear, precise concrete imagery in their work. Participants will examine work by a variety of poets as well as using several exercises to create the word-pictures that allow readers to see as well as understand the writer’s intention.

JANE WOHL lives in Sheridan, Wyoming and in Brattleboro, Vermont.  Her books include Beasts in Snow, Triage, and Learning from Old Masters. Although she is now retired, she taught for many years in the Goddard College Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Program, as well as at Sheridan College, in Sheridan, Wyoming.  She has taught fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry writing as well as English Composition and a variety of kinds of literature. She sings in two choirs and enjoys water aerobics and Zumba.

The festival will close with the launch of the Betty June Silconas Poetry Center’s Stillwater Review, Vol. 8, plus reading.

Registration Fee for the morning panel discussion is $15 and includes breakfast, lunch, and a copy of The Stillwater Review, Volume 8. Advanced registration is recommended to reserve a spot.

This year’s Festival will support the SCCC Foundation to include student scholarships and campus initiatives.

Payment can be mailed to: Sussex County Community College
ATTN: Foundation, One College Hill Road, Newton, NJ 07860.
Make check payable to SCCC Foundation and please include “Poetry Festival” in the memo line.

For questions, please email David Crews at, dcrews@sussex.edu.