This week, the Academy of American Poets announced Jillian’s second poetry collection, “The Book of Goodbyes,” was selected for the James Laughlin Award, the nation’s only prize for a second book of poetry. The prize includes $5,000 and support of the book through purchasing copies to distribute to academy members.
“This book reminds us that the pain of love and loss, in the hands of a powerful wordsmith such as Weise, might just morph into passion, thrill, strength,” wrote Laughlin Award judge Brenda Shaughnessy. “And that love-suffering can bring us ever closer to lovability because through it we learn to connect, renew, transform.”
(Learn more about the award at Poets.org.)
Jillian’s other books include the poetry collection, “The Amputee’s Guide to Sex,” and the novel “The Colony.” She will read from her latest work at the awards ceremony in New York City on Oct. 25.
The Gulf Coast Writers Conference returns for its 14th session on Saturday — and this time, it’s free to the public. The conference is being held in conjunction with River Readings, a series of panels focusing on artistic creativity, inspiration and spiritual growth.
(See more details about the conference at GulfCoastWritersConference.com.)
Author and Wewahitchka native Michael Lister, who established the writers conference in 1999, said he had no idea when it began that the event would go on for so long, or accomplish what it has for local writers and creatives.
“I’m so proud of this conference,” Michael said. “Can’t believe it’s been 14 years. We have inspired and helped so many writers over the years. It’s extremely gratifying.”
Michael credited Lynn Wallace, a novelist, poet and professor at Gulf Coast State College, for all of his help over the years. Wallace will participate in a panel discussion Saturday on “Telling Truth Telling Lies.”
“No one has helped me more or done more than Lynn Wallace,” he said. “He is such a treasure for the writers of this area and beyond.”
Lister said offering the conference for free was a leap that he was happy to take.
“I knew the moment I had the idea that it was inspired and we had to just do it — figure out a way and go for it,” he said. “I know the energy from this is going to make our conference even better this year, if that’s possible.”
This is my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald this week.