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Haun Conference to Feature Acclaimed Kentucky Poet
February 03,2014

Walters State will host the fourth annual Mildred Haun Conference Feb. 7-8 at the college’s Morristown campus.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Kelly Norman Ellis, an accomplished poet and a founding member of the Affrilichian poets. Ellis was selected by Essence magazine as one of their favorite 40 poets. The conference also features writers’ workshops, scholarly presentations and performances by the ETSU Old Time Band and poets Kelly Norman Ellis and Bianca Spriggs.

The theme for this year’s conference is “The Voices of Appalachia.”

The conference is a celebration of Appalachian literature, scholarship and culture. The conference’s name honors Hamblen County native Mildred Haun, author of “The Hawk’s Done Gone.” This collection of stories is considered one of the first works of Appalachian fiction; critics still consider Haun a master of the genre.

Registration is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

Ellis will give the conference's keynote speech at 3:30 on Friday, Feb. 7. She is the author of "Offerings of Desire," published last year by Willow Books. Her first collection, "Tougaloo Blues," was published in 2003. She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Chicago State University, where she directs the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Dr. Ellis was raised in East Tennessee and is a Cave Canem fellow. 

Other events on Friday include writers’ workshops featuring Amy Greene, Karen McElmurray, Marianne Worthington, George Ella Lyon, and D.A. Adams, III.

Greene is the author of the critically acclaimed novel “Bloodroot” and her forthcoming second work of fiction, “Long Man.” McElmurray’s “Surrendered Child: a Birth Mother’s Journey," was an AWP award winner for creative nonfiction. Worthington’s poetry chapbook, “Larger Bodies Than Mine,” was selected as the 2007 Appalachian Book of the Year in poetry by the Appalachian Writers Association. Lyon has published over 40 books, many of which are set in Appalachia. Adams is the author of four books, including “The Brotherhood of Dwarves.” The writers’ workshops begin at 10 a.m.

The ETSU Old Time Band will perform at 1 p.m. on Friday, followed by scholarly sessions at 2:15. Closing out Friday’s events will be readings by workshop leaders at 4:45.

The work of artist Marc L. Burnett will be celebrated with a reception at 1 p.m. in the Library on Friday. This reception will also feature a jazz performance by Kelle Jo and the Will Boyd Project. 

On Saturday, Feb. 8, events include scholarly sessions at 8:30 a.m and 12:45 p.m.; Appalachian folk songs at 9:45 a.m.; and a performance by poets Ellis and Bianca Spriggs at 4:30.

For a complete list of conference events, times, and locations, click here.