International flavor, special performances,free readings highlight this year’s West Chester Poetry Conference


WEST CHESTER, PA — The president of a writers’ group at the United Nations, an opera free and open to the public, and free readings are just a few of the highlights of this year’s West Chester Poetry Conference, June 7 – 10.

Bhikshuni Weisbrot, president, United Nations SRC Society of Writers, is part of an inaugural symposium focusing on poetry and global responsibility. She is co-editor of an anthology of international poetry. Her three co-presenters are American poets with international backgrounds.

Shirley Geok-lin Lim leads the symposium. A naturalized citizen born in Malaysia, she is research professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was also women’s studies chair. She was honored with the Multiethnic Literatures of the United States Lifetime Achievement Award.

Conference keynoter A. E. Stallings, who has lived in Greece since 1999 and has worked with refugee organizations there, is also participating. In addition to three collections of poems, most recently Olives, she has also published a verse translation of Lucretius, The Nature of Things. She has been a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow and the recipient of an NEA translation grant.


Philosopher, poet, and literary critic Emily Grosholz is the Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy, African American Studies, and English at Penn State, University Park. Grosholz has recently published an illustrated volume of poetry, Childhood, proceeds of which are donated to UNICEF. She is a member of the Center for Fundamental Theory / Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, and is a researcher with REHSEIS / SPHERE / CNRS and University of Paris Diderot - Paris 7.

The Society of Writers collaborates with UN agencies and literary organizations worldwide to promote the written word as a powerful and artistic tool in fur­thering the universal goals of the United Nations. Membership is limited to current and retired Unit­ed Nations staff mem­bers and their rel­a­tives, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, and the diplo­mat­ic com­mu­ni­ty.

The symposium runs 10 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre in the Performing Arts Center (open to registrants only).

The Scarlet Letter opera is a collaboration between composer Lori Laitman and poet and conference faculty regular David Mason. The curtain opens Saturday, June 10, at 8 p.m. in Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre in the Performing Arts Center. The hour-long production is free and open to the public.

The performers are WCU students, conducted by WCU’s Ryan Kelly, assistant professor of applied music and associate director of choral activities.

Laitman is also the first recipient of the Kate Light Scholarship, established by the Poetry Conference last year in the poet’s memory for conference-goers who demonstrate excellence in poetry, musical composition, collaboration, and/or adaptation. She has said of her own work, “My goal is to create dramatic music to express and magnify the meaning of the poem.”

Also open to the public are free poetry readings featuring the conference faculty at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Both will be in the Ware Family Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center.

For more information on the West Chester Poetry Conference and the full schedule, visit