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Mesa Grad School To Host

Creative Writing Conference

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Wilkes University, A New Entrant Into The Phoenix Metro Education Landscape, Is Highlighting Their Creative Writing Graduate Program With An Open-To-The Public Creative Writing Conference And An All-Collegiate Poetry Slam


By Staff Report
Modern Times Magazine

Dec. 8, 2014 — Not every collegiate creative writing conference deserves publication, but when nationally recognized slam poet Jeremiah Blue is behind it, there might just be a bit more to it than might be expected.

Coming up on Dec. 13, the Wilkes University Creative Writing Conference and All-Collegiate poetry slam will be taking place at Wilkes University’s Mesa campus, 245 W. Second St.

Jeremiah Blue has competed in just about every slam poetry event in the country. He has competed as both an individual poet and on national-level poetry slam teams. He’s also built a reputation as poet who works to grow and expand the reach of poetry in the Phoenix metro.  But lately, he has been putting competition in the back seat in favor of organizing his own events.

“For the last two years I have been organizing the Copper State Poetry Slam, and Wilkes has been our executive sponsor. A couple days after this last CSPS, Wilkes offered me a position as a graduate assistant if I became a student at Wilkes in the spring, but they wanted to get things going ahead of time so they hired me as a consultant. But I’m basically an event coordinator,” said Blue.

This creative writing conference is the first event coordinated by Blue in his new position with Wilkes, and with only a month under his belt he’s already done a great job. He’s picked a terrific group of local Phoenix based professionals — including Modern Times Magazine’s Editor & Publisher John Guzzon as well as Music/Arts Editor Jeff Moses — to host  workshops. The other presenters include Bonnie Culver from the Wilkes University, screenplay writer Ross Klavan, novelist Lenore Hart, Poet Philip Brady, and Four Chambers Press editor-in-chief Jake Friedman.

There will be workshops from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. including a wide variety of topics such as playwriting, fiction or nonfiction, screenwriting, and a quite a few others.

“Those who are hosting the workshops are all professionals in their fields. Professional producers, professional publicists, professional poets, there is going to access to some really unique resources from those people,” said Blue. “Essentially we are kicking off our M.A. and M.S.A program here in Mesa. This event is essentially functioning as a welcoming to the city and surrounding area. Something that shows that Wilkes is in town and that we are offering this graduate creative writing program. My boss, Bonnie Culver, said she wanted to put on a big event to introduce the Valley to the school and the various facets of the graduate program.”

To add a bit of flare to the event, Blue decided to host an all-collegiate poetry slam to go along with the conference. Blue is going to be M.C. of the slam and it is offering a $200 first prize, $150 for second place, and $75 for third place. Which, according to Blue, are the biggest cash prizes offered to the winners of any slam that he has organized.

Blue also tapped Joy Young, one of Phoenix’s most well known and well respected performance artists for the slam’s calibration poet. Young is known for using poetry to address social issues, especially as it pertains to queer issues. She is also known as Phoenix’s only circus poet and mixes juggling, balloon animals, and humor into her act.

“We wanted to target college students and poetry slams are a lot fun to do so we figured doing a poetry slam would draw college students to the campus that are interested in creative writing to see what going on and possibly find some interest in the the program,” said Blue.
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