Scott Lucero, an English professor at HCTC who also works to organize Evening with Poets, said the event, which will be held Thursday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m., will feature another round of acclaimed poets as well as some local poets from the region.
“In addition to several up-and-coming poets, (Appalachian poet) Jim Webb will emcee again,” said Lucero. “We (also) have Affrilachian poet and author of the new book Kafir Lily, Bianca Spriggs.”
Lucero noted that Evening with Poets has become an important part of the literary scene in the region. Not only does it command a large audience, but it also allows poets who have yet to be published, or have been published on a limited basis, to meet other writers who have not only placed a foot firmly in the door, but also walked through the doorway.
“It's valuable for newer poets to read in front of a substantial crowd, of course,” he said. “But to have them sharing the podium with poets like Wendell Berry, Frank X Walker, and Bianca Spriggs helps validate their writing in a lot of ways. It helps them see that you can write and that people will listen and that the dreams of publishing are attainable.”
But ultimately, Lucero continued, poets will have an opportunity to read in front of a like minded audience, and that cold prove a major factor as they look for ways to push their own writing forward.
“As writers, we want someone to understand what we say, we want someone out there to get it,” he said. “And with a crowd of a couple hundred people nodding and smiling or tearing up, that changes your life.”
While Evening with Poets serves as an important event in and of itself, it will also coincide with the release of the HCTC literary magazine Kudzu, and by one day precedes the annual writer’s workshops held at the college as well. The writer’s conference will take place April 23 on the Hazard campus of Hazard Community and Technical College, and in addition to Bianca Spriggs will also feature presenters Pinckney Benedict and Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman.
This year, Lucero noted, Kudzu will be honoring the late Donna Sparkman, who was a major force behind the success of the publication.
“She was the driving force behind Kudzu every year, and without her it would still be something we put together with a photocopier and staples,” Lucero explained. “She spent every day of her life while working for HCTC thinking about that magazine and how to showcase the talent we have here in eastern Kentucky.”