Writers, students, faculty and friends joined together at the Hazard Community College for an “Evening with Poets” on Thursday, April 20. Held to showcase the literary magazine Kudzu, the event featured writers such as G.C.Compton (winner of last year's poetry contest), Kelly Norman Ellis (founding member of the Affrilachian poets), Jim Web and Cathy “Kit” Cottrell, a junior at Berea College and 2006 Kudzu Poetry Prize Honorable Mention.
The annual event brought out the young and old and recognized Kudzu,which was once called The Yarn Spinner. The free magazine,published as Kudzu since 1993, features submissions from a diverse selection of writers. According to Faculty Advisor Donna Sparkman, writing submissions are taken from everywhere. This year Kudzu includes a significant amount of fiction as well as poetry, essays, and reviews. Donna Sparkman stated that the magazine is growing and even features a writer whose short story was nominated for last year's Pushcart Prize.
Kit Cottrell, the first poet of the evening, read several poems including “Flannel Ducks and Corduroy Trains” which is published in Kudzu. Cottrell, who stated that she is not a speaker by nature, is a 48 year old mother of two. The poetry reading was her first time sharing her work in front of an audience although she has been writing for six years. Her unique story and background is one example of the diversity of the participants involved in the poetry reading and the material within the pages of Kudzu. The evening was highlighted by veteran writer, Kelly Norman Ellis, but also gave new voices an opportunity to shine. The lighthearted evening was one of laughter and excitement.
“An Evening With Poets” gave way to the Spring Writers Conference held on April 21. The conference continued the celebration of the written word with guests Gurney Norman who is a longtime advocate for Appalachian writing, Sena Jeter Naslund. and Kelly Norman Ellis. The conference, held at the First Federal Center on the Hazard campus, gave aspiring writers an opportunity to learn from the honored guests. Donna Sparkman explained that the interest and participation of students and other writers has made the conference a success and an annual event.
Hazard Community and Technical College is an active supporter of the arts. Donna Sparkman said that the college hopes to have many more events in the near future. There are plans for a 2007 Evening with Poets and a writers conference.
Kudzu is an annual magazine and will be again accepting submissions. For more information about Kudzu contact Donna Sparkman at the Hazard Community and Technical College.