Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bringing the Power of Poetry to Area Schools

Since 2011, the Indiana Writers’ Consortium (IWC) has been sponsoring the Power of Poetry Project (P.O.P.P.) to build students’ creativity by bringing poetry into the classroom. The program has taken place in schools in Crown Point, Gary, and East Chicago.

During November, special attention is given to the reading and writing of poetry in fourth and fifth grade classrooms. In December, the children select their best poem to edit and rewrite in their own unique voice until it is ready to submit to the competition.

In connection with the IWC mission, P.O.P.P. helps inspire and build Northwest Indiana’s literary community by providing instructors with teaching resources and suggestions for using poetry to meet educational standards. Students are encouraged to read and write poems in order to develop an appreciation for the genre, and their efforts are rewarded at an awards ceremony held in the spring.

The poems are judged anonymously in a three-round judging process:

Round one - judges review the entires and choose the poems to consider for local school awards;

Round two - judges select the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and honorable mention poems at the school level; and

Round three – judges review the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place poems from the school level and select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd  place and honorable mention winners at the regional level. If there is an exceptional entry, the poet receives the Spencer Award.

All participants receive a P.O.P.P. lapel pin. Winning poems are published in the annual P.O.P.P. Poetry Book, and school level winners are presented with a medal, a certificate, and a copy of the book. Regional winners also receive a trophy and an Amazon gift certificate.

Beginning this year, the first ever Spencer Award will be given to the young poet most deserving of special recognition. Tom Spencer is a well-respected Indiana poet as well as a longtime IWC member. He heads the Northwest Indiana Poetry Society and has promoted poetry appreciation both locally and nationally for many years.

Thank you to the P.O.P.P Committee for its work organizing the program and judging entires. A special thanks goes to the grantors and donors who make P.O.P.P. possible: the Crown Point Community Foundation, Centier Bank – Crown Point Branch, and individual donors.

This year’s P.O.P.P. awards ceremony will be held on April 9th at Solon Robinson School in Crown Point from 6pm-8pm. It is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brian Furuness to Keynote the 2015 Steel Pen Writers' Conference

Adam Webb
This year the Indiana Writers’ Consortium welcomes Bryan Furuness as the keynote speaker for the Steel Pen Writers’ Conference. Bryan is a writer and editor who teaches at Butler University. Before teaching at Butler, Bryan worked for the Indianapolis Star and earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. Bryan also has ties to the region growing up in a working class family near Gary.
Bryan’s first novel, The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, follows the misadventures of an adolescent dreamer growing up in the Midwest and has generated much acclaim both in Indiana and nationwide. The character Revie also shows up in Bryan’s work “Man of Steel,” which earned a Pushcart Prize Special Mention in 2010. Check out “Man of Steel” by following this link:
His work has appeared in such literary magazines as Ninth Letter, Southeast Review, Freight Stories, and Hobart. His work can also be found in New Stories from the Midwest and Best American Nonrequired Reading.
Bryan’s writing has a Raymond Carver meets Thomas Pynchon feel with a mix of George Saunders. Bryan was quoted in an interview with the website that Civilewarland in Bad Decline by Saunders helped him find his voice. “I realized that my writing didn’t have to sound like a neutered British person with a thesaurus fetish.” Bryan also told that, “Writing is solitary; being a writer is wrapped up in community. Writing is action; being a writer is a kind of reflection.”
There is no doubt that keynote speaker Bryan Furuness will wow the crowd with wit and wisdom, so make sure you register for the IWC 2015 Steel Pen Writers’ Conference at The conference is Saturday October 10th at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville, Indiana.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eat & Exchange is Back

Catherine Vlahos
While it may not seem like it with the massive amounts of snow NWI has received recently, spring is closer than we think—which means our third year of the IWC’s Eat & Exchange series is approaching! Seek shelter from the most likely rainy weather and join us in the warmth of our local Lake and Porter County cafés, sip a hot latte or two, and enjoy discussions facilitated by our own IWC members focusing on writing topics you care about—publishing tips, demystifying research, modern marketing, and more.
The series runs from March through May at the following times and venues:
Blackbird Café—Valparaiso, IN
March 7th, 11am
Grindhouse Café—Griffith, IN
March 18th, 6pm
Red Cup Café & Deli—Chesterton, IN
 April 11th, 11am
Grindhouse Café—Griffith, IN
April 29th, 6pm
Blackbird Café—Valparaiso, IN
May 13th, 6pm
Sip Coffeehouse—Crown Point, IN
May 30th, 11am
We already have facilitators lined up for some interesting sessions. Tiffany Cole will compare creative marketing strategies for both authors themselves and the stories they write. Kathryn Page Camp will discuss the research process for creative writing, from how much is enough to where to look for the best facts. Joyce Hicks is scheduled to reveal the best sources to seek out for publishing short fiction, and Michael Poore will outline the often daunting novel-writing process.
While our facilitators certainly have knowledge to share with attendees, don’t forget about the “exchange” part of our series! We are hoping to bring together the collective brainstorming force of everyone involved with Eat & Exchanges—whether this be in the form of personal experience, your own research on the topic, or anything else in between—to ultimately have a good discussion. All are welcome to share ideas of their own, so there won’t be any falling asleep during long, one-sided presentations!
While the first Eat & Exchange is almost a month away, it’s never too early to start the countdown. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stream Line is Under Way!

Catherine Vlahos
We would like to announce the beginning of a new collection of events—look forward to the IWC's Stream Line literary reading series! Each monthly event focuses on a different genre or writing theme, and the public is welcome to experience a unique presentation by featured readers at the inspiring Paul Henry's Art Gallery right next to our office in downtown Hammond. 
Stream Line's structure is fast-paced and fluid with each reader only speaking for three 5-7 minute rounds, aiming to make individual pieces flow together to create a unified, energizing event that may challenge your current notions on (perhaps sometimes stagnant?) literature events. The audience is encouraged to engage and interact with the readers throughout the night, and a short intermission with a potluck will ensure that our creative minds have plenty of fuel to discuss, question, learn, and have a good time.
The first Stream Line night is on March 11th and will focus on poetry. Below is our stellar guest reader line-up:
George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana, has published fourteen books of poetry (seven of which are full-length), including The Mining Camps of the Mouth (2012), winner of the New Michigan Press Prize, Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck (2011), winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Contest, and The Theory and Function of Mangoes (2000), winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series. He lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with his wife, the writer Mary Ann Cain, and their beagle Bootsie. He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.
Gordon Stamper, Jr. is a writer and educator from Northwest Indiana. Currently he is a co-moderator for Highland Writers Group and a graduate student in Purdue's Learning Design and Technology program.
William Allegrezza edits Moria Books and Moss Trill and teaches at Indiana University Northwest. He has previously published many poetry books, including still. walk., In the Weaver’s Valley, Ladders in July, Fragile Replacements, Collective Instant, Aquinas and the Mississippi (with Garin Cycholl), Covering Over, Port Light, and Densities, Apparitions; three anthologies, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, The Alteration of Silence: Recent Chilean Poetry, and La Alteración del Silencio: Poesía Norteamericana Reciente; seven chapbooks, including Sonoluminescence (co-written with Simone Muench) and Filament Sense; and many poetry reviews, articles, and poems. He founded and curated series A, a reading series in Chicago, from 2006-2010. In addition, he occasionally posts his thoughts at P-Ramblings.
Mary Ann Cain has published a novel, Down from Moonshine (Thirteenth Moon Press 2009), two books of scholarship on writing, and dozens of short stories, poems, and essays. Her current project is a creative nonfiction book on the legacy of Dr. Margaret Burroughs, a Chicago legend and artist-teacher-activist, co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History and the South Side Community Arts Center. She and her husband, George Kalamaras, share a 1929 Tudor-style home in Fort Wayne with their beloved beagle, Bootsie.  Mary Ann is Professor of English and Women's Studies at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne.  
The following is some vital information so you won’t miss the IWC’s very first Stream Line:
WHAT: Stream Line Poetry Night
WHEN: 7-9pm
WHERE: Paul Henry’s Art Gallery 416 Sibley St. Hammond, IN
WHO: Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras, Gordon Stamper, William Allegrezza, Mary Ann Cain
ADMISSION: $5 ($3 if you bring a potluck dish!)
WHAT ELSE: There is an intermission with a potluck—bring a dish and get a discount!
As for future events, we are cooking up plenty of other exciting nights in the meantime. A young adult literature theme will be the focus of April’s Stream Line event, and possible other themes include a Midwest night and flash fiction and nonfiction. We hope to see you there and are looking forward to launching this series!