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Poetry by Kay Putney Gantt in earlier issues

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by Kay Putney Gantt

The Key West Literary Seminar has become legendary. Each year audiences of writers and readers are dazzled by the crème de la crème from different genre (biography, journalism, memoir, nature writers, etc.), always with poets present and poet participants, but in 2003 the subject is POETRY. And poets will abound.

In the lush tropical surroundings of Key West, in the lavish old San Carlos auditorium, current Poet Laureate Billy Collins will join the 1987 Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Wilbur, Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Derek Walcott, and a cast including some of the most read and admired contemporary poets of the day including Kim Addonizio, John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, Robert Creeley, Marlin Espada, Carolyn Forche, Forrest Gander, Dan Gerber, Sam Hamill, Jane Hirshfield, Carolyn Kizer, Judith Minty, Sharon Olds, Charles Simic, Rebecca Seiferle, James Tate, Quincy Troupe, and C. D. Wright.

Imagine panel discussions on the craft, themes, challenges, and thrills of writing poetry. Imagine audiences having opportunities to question. Imagine chatting with the speakers at functions including several delicious receptions in the historic heart of old town.

Workshops follow the seminar (January 12-16). Small and student centered, workshops will be lead by Paulette Bates Alden who will provide "voice lessons." Voice, that critical element we all long to nail. Her short stories and memoir provide the evidence that Paulette knows about voice and much more. Alan Cheuse takes the writer back to the fundamentals of creating publishable prose (essays to journalism) or poetry. Sam Hamill walks quietly like a monk and pays attention, but don't be fooled, he is a master teacher with high standards and an eye and ear to justify his opinions. Judith Kanzantzis is a listener who will work with students on their submitted work -- all the while using her considerable skills to help students see into their poems. E. J. Miller-Laino uses the Sharon Olds model to inspire new writing. She is a feel-good- about-your-poetry teacher, helping her students by developing their writing confidence. Judith Minty, an enormously skillful teacher, moves students to new levels of writing, reminding them of the role of the unconscious. Students will pay new attention to their senses. Her group will consider submitted work as well as write new work from prompts. And Rebecca Seiferle, master teacher, scholar, explorer will encourage students to follow the poem -- go with it where it veers. In her group, students will go on expeditions, riding their pens into uncharted territories.

We all have stories of eccentric, opinionated, prima donna poets, but if this seminar lives up to its reputation there will be lots of genuinely helpful exchanges and fun among participants, both speakers and audiences. It is the Key West way. We are used to luminaries -- here they are just folks riding their bikes, hanging out at local eateries, attending small live theaters.

Additional information is available at www.KeyWestLiterarySeminar.org. One could not hope to find more helpful people than the Executive Director, Miles Freiden and his associate, Alan Kelly-Hamm. First class professionals.

At the center of it all is POETRY with a capital P. For word-lovers, poetry buffs and poet professionals, the place to be mid-January '03 is Key West. I know this seminar from having attended the last eight and as a full-time poet I may have been the first to register this year.