Thank You for Your Support

We would like to extend our thanks, gratitude, and appreciation of the following people for their help in making the Festival a wonderful success:

The English Department plans and advises the Festival every year; and their advice and creativity make it the wonderful event it is.

This year Professor Nicole Stamant coordinated the state-wide writing contest in four genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and dramatic writing.

Thank you to the judges who selected the finalists for the contest: Crystal Boson for poetry; William Boyle for short fiction; Anya Groner for creative non-fiction; and Jacqueline Goldfinger for one-act plays.

Many thanks also go to Julia Lutgendorf and Nicholyn Hutchinson of the Office of Marketing and Communications for their help with design, social media, and marketing

Special thanks to Professor Alan Grostephan for his stewardship of the Writers’ Festival Practicum. And especially to the students in the practicum: Natalie Martinez, Anastasia McCray, Eva Rosen, Naomi Smith-George, and Jillian Speck who edited the magazine; Maya McKenzie and Anastasia Rogers, the design editors; Abigail Biles, Bailey Cochran, and Brittany Gilliland, the marketing consultants; Ellaree Yeagley who created the cover art.

I would also like to express gratitude to the Center for Writing and Speaking for hosting the reading for Agnes Scott’s contest finalists on Tuesday.

Special thanks to Susan Dougherty  in the Office of Faculty Services.

And Demetrice Williams Senior Director of Special Events and Community Relations, without whom we are nothing. This year she has been ably assisted by Shakeyla Ingram and Kanisha Dennis.

We would also like to extend special thanks the facilities, dining hall, and custodial staffs.

Thank you also to our guest authors Claudia Rankine, Patrick Phillips, and Kayla Miller, who hosted workshops, selected the contest winners, and gave amazing presentations of their work. Additional thanks to Patrick Phillips, who instructed a creative non-fiction course during the week for Agnes Scott students.

Finally, thank you to each student, finalist, and guest in attendance at the events. We appreciate your support and look forward to hosting you again for next year’s Festival.

Contest Winners Announced

The results are in! Our contest winners were announced on Thursday, April 6 prior to Claudia Rankine’s reading. We thank each of our finalists for their submissions, and send many congratulations to our winners! Each winner was awarded a $500 prize, which is made possible by our donors’ generous support.

Drama

Christell Victoria Roach
Emory University

Fiction

Soniah Kamal
Georgia State University

Nonfiction

Anna Lachkaya
Agnes Scott College

Poetry

Terrence Daye
Morehouse College

Another Successful Festival

Thank you to everyone for another successful Writers’ Festival! We had amazing turnouts at each event, great audience questions, and lots of books signed. Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Festival and hear our amazing guests.

Agnes Scott Finalists’ Reading

Tuesday April 5, 2016

Festival Guest Q&A Session

Thursday, April 6

Patrick Phillips’ Reading

Thursday, April 6

Claudia Rankine Reading and Contest Winner Announcement

Thursday, April 6

Kayla Miller Reading

Friday, April 7

writ_fest 155

Finalist Workshop with Guest Writers

Friday, April 7

Kamilah Aisha Moon: Former Contest Winner, New Agnes Scott Professor

Kamilah Aisha Moon won the 25th Annual Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival contest in Poetry in 1997. Since then, she’s established herself as a serious and published poet, and now is returning to Agnes Scott this fall as an instructor. Kamilah will join the ASC English Department as an Assistant Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing. She looks forward to “working with amazing young women and contributing to the vibrant intellectual and creative community of the college.” Congratulations, Professor, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall!

What is your history with Agnes Scott?

I did not attend Agnes Scott as a student. I completed my B.A. in English at Paine College in Augusta, GA. I saw an advertisement about the statewide creative writing competition held yearly at Agnes Scott for undergraduate students and sent a poetry application for consideration. I received news that I was a finalist and drove to this beautiful, stately campus for the awards ceremony. It was a wonderful surprise to win! Not only did it bolster my confidence as a young writer, the award money allowed me to attend my first international writing conference at NYU two months later. This formative experience in 1997 gave me permission to pursue my writing fully and explore the ideas of scholarship and teaching literature as a profession. It feels like a full circle moment to return to this campus as a poetry professor exactly 20 years later.

What has been your experience with the Festival? Which piece did you win with? 

The first place win at Agnes Scott was the first major recognition for my writing. I had published a few poems in college and community literary journals, but to receive a cash award and expert advice from judges who were established writers inspired me to seriously continue in the discipline. I won for a set of three poems. “Tough Love” was a poem about two close roommates of different backgrounds having a hard conversation about the phrase ‘I don’t see color.’ “Me and My Friends Circa 1981” was a fond recollection of an inner city neighborhood and the innocence of its children before crime took over. “An Afternoon at the Mall” was about a store clerk profiling shoppers of color as they shopped. These poems were definitely rough around the edges, so I’m grateful that the judges saw through the coal dust and recognized the diamond potential in a young writer.

What parts of the writing process do you most enjoy?

I love when inspiration compels me to stop what I’m doing and write. Over the years, I’ve learned to surrender to play, to write with abandon and turn off the internal editor for the initial draft so that I allow everything to make it to the page uncensored. So many gems are found within those first impulses to articulate experience, to experiment with language in ways that get us closer to meaning and illuminate the ineffable. I am grateful to be seized by an idea—to look up and realize that I haven’t moved for hours, need a meal and day has turned into night.

What parts do you still struggle with?

I think most emerging writers struggle with refining work. But I truly appreciate the revision process now more than ever. I think the key is patience. I will put a poem or an essay away for an extended period of time so that I can return to it with new eyes. Sometimes I have to live more life to know what a piece needs. I will say a line out loud over and over again until the rhythm and meter feel effortless. I will employ syntax in unconventional ways for greater impact; or scale down a diatribe to its essential concern or question unadorned so that a reader can’t turn away from it.

What advice do you have for emerging writers and artists?

Strive to be an endless apprentice and stay open to new ideas, but also trust your instincts and take risks. When someone else’s advice is germane to your project’s vision, deeply consider it. Run toward the projects and opportunities that scare you the most; turn fear into fuel and welcome challenges.

 

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2017 Guest Writers

Three distinguished authors will be on campus April 4-7, 2017, for Agnes Scott College’s 45th Annual Writers’ Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia. The 2017 visiting authors are poet Claudia Rankine, writer and poet Patrick Phillips, and Agnes Scott alumna writer, poet Kayla Miller ’11.

Claudia Rankine

CLAUDIA RANKINE

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was also nominated in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award. A finalist for the National Book Award, Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives in New York City and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

photo of writer Patrick PhillipsPATRICK PHILLIPS

Patrick Phillips is the author of a book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W. W. Norton 2016), and three poetry collections. His most recent, Elegy for a Broken Machine was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry; his two earlier collections are Boy and Chattahoochee. He is also the translator of When We Leave Each Other: Selected Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Phillips’ work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and The Nation, and his honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America. Phillips lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Drew University. Phillips will teach the one-credit, one-week creative writing seminar associated with the Writers’ Festival.

 

photo of writer Kayla Miller

KAYLA MILLER
Kayla Miller earned her BA in English Literature-Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College in 2011 and her MFA in Fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2016. She is the author of the chapbook See & Be Seen & Be Scene, winner of Five [Quarterly] ’s chapbook competition, and a recipient of the Talbot International Award to write in Spain. Her work has appeared in the journals The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg ReviewTahoma Literary Review, and HOLD: a journal, among others.

2017 Writers’ Festival Events

We are very excited about this year’s distinguished guests, and we hope that you join us for one or more of the public events listed below.
Please note that each of these events are free and open to the public, with no ticket required.

Reading by Agnes Scott Student Finalists in the Writers’ Festival Contest
Tuesday, April 4, 5 p.m.
Luchsinger Lounge, Alston Campus Center

Q&A With Claudia Rankine, Patrick Phillips, and Kayla Miller `11
Thursday, April 6, 1 p.m.
Luchsinger Lounge, Alston Campus Center

Reading by Patrick Phillips
Reception and book signing to follow
Thursday, April 6, 4 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Claudia Rankine 
Reception and book signing to follow
Thursday, April 6, 8 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Kayla Miller ’11
Reception and book signing to follow
Friday, April 7, 2 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

 

 

Interview with Former Winner Andrea Rogers

10985196_10101336349522103_7915252928800710080_nAndrea Rogers won the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival Poetry Prize in 2015. She is currently a Ph.D. Poetry student at Georgia State University, where she is an Advanced Teaching Fellow. Rogers is currently a writing instructor at GSU and Agnes Scott College, and works as a Writing Consultant at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Outside of teaching and tutoring, she has also worked for literary journals (Five Points, Odradek) and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Adirondack ReviewPOET SOUNDS (Lo-fi Poetry Series Anthology covering the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds), Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource, Negative Capability Press’s Georgia Poetry Anthology, Stone, River, Sky, Red Paint Hill’s Mother is a Verb Anthology, and Treehouse; her nonfiction and interviews appear in Boog CityTreehouse, and The 11th Hour.

Interviewer: What made you enter the Writers’ Festival?

Andrea Rogers: I decided to enter the Writers’ Festival because of its prestigious reputation, and also because of the calibre of the visiting writers last year (Tracy K. Smith, Chris Abani).

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?  

The most difficult part of the writing process for me is sitting down and doing it. I always have ideas — I save them in my phone and in a thousand notebooks. Sitting down to write is always rewarding, but for whatever reason, I always put it off as long as I can. Maybe it’s because I want to delay the emotional “vein-opening” that happens when we write poetry, or maybe it’s because I am and have always been a procrastinator.

What is your favorite part about writing?

My favorite part about writing is being engaged in the creative act, which creates a feeling unlike any other. I also enjoy collaborating with others — I recently wrote a chapbook with my friend and ASC alumna Paige Sullivan, and am currently working on another with my friend Simona Chitescu Weik. Collaboration forces you to meet deadlines and gives you an “accountability partner”, so to speak, which helps me with the most difficult part of the writing process (sitting down and doing it).

What advice do you have for anybody that is interested in writing or publications?

My advice for students who want to write and publish is to read as much as you possibly can. Subscribe to email newsletters and follow publications online if you’re not into carrying around hard copies. You can’t expect to know what you like, much less what you want to do, if you don’t have a broad view of what came before and what is going on around you. And don’t be afraid to submit. Submissions are rejected much more often than they are accepted; don’t let this discourage you. Sometimes it takes a long time for a poem or story to find its “home” — and when it does, what a wonderful feeling that will be.

What are you doing now or what are you working on?

I am currently an adjunct professor at Agnes Scott and an instructor at Georgia State University, and work in the Business Writing Center at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. I am finishing my dissertation at the moment and planning to submit my poetry manuscript in the near future. I’m also working on the chapbook I mentioned above, which is about patron saints (both real and imaginary). And, as always, I’m trying to find the time to make myself sit down and write.