2014 Conference

Join us September 19-21, 2014 at Lake Doniphan Retreat Center in Kansas City, MO for our 11th Power of Words Conference: Transformation, Liberation & Celebration Through the Spoken, Written and Sung Word, with workshops, performances, talking circles, celebration and more, featuring writers, storytellers, performers, musicians, community leaders, activists, educators, and health professionals. The conference, founded in 2003, features workshops in four tracks: narrative medicine, social change, right livelihood (and making a living through the arts), and engaged spirituality, with 30 presenters from across the country.

Register here today: registration (rates go up Aug. 15). Visit our Tumblr page for videos, photos, links, news and more! Scholarship and work-study information here.

Keynoters are:

UntitledKevin Willmott, award-winning filmmaker, writer and director who award-winning films include C.S.A.: Confederate States of America, Planet Negro, The Only Good Indian and Bunker Hill. His films investigate our living history with depth, originality and humor.

Kelley Hunt, international touring artist and singer-songwriter with five critically-acclaimed CDs. Her powerful voice, piano and guitar playing, coupled with songwriting that will leave you breathless have made her one of the shining voices in rhythm and blues, Americana, roots, gospel and folk music.

Scott Cairns, poet, and writer, recent books are Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected and the memoir Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven — A Pilgrimage. Professor at the University of Missouri and a Guggenheim Fellow, Cairns' writing has appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Spirituality and Health and The Best American Spiritual Writing.

Doug Lipman, storyteller, coach, mentor and author. One of the foremost authorities on storytelling coaching, Doug has performed around the world since the 1970s, including at the Smithsonian, National Storytelling Festival and on public radio. A generous expert on right livelihood through the arts, Doug will share his wisdom as well as one of his most powerful stories.

We are proud to feature two spectacular artists-in-residence: Stephen Locke is a renowned storm and tornado photographer. Jose Faus is a multi-media artist and painter, muralist, poet and writer, and president of The Writers Place. Both Stephen and Jose will be displaying their art and giving artist talks during the conference.

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A special pre-conference event — Poet Laureati: Five Poets Laureate – features Missouri poets laureate past and present William Trowbridge and Walter Bargen, and Kansas poets laureate past and present Wyatt Townley, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Denise Low for a reading 7-9 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 18 at Lake Doniphan Retreat Center. The reading is free and open to the public. On Fri., Sept. 19, these five poets laureate will present a pre-conference panel discussion with breakout writing workshop sessions.

UntitledDenise Low is the 2007-2009 Poet Laureate of Kansas, past president of Associated Writers and Writing Programs and author of more than two dozen books, including Natural Theologies: Essays about Literature of the New Middle West (The Backwaters Press 2011) and Ghost Stories: From Einstein’s Brain to Geronimo’s Boots (Woodley 2010). A fifth-generation Kansan of mixed British Isles, German, and unaffiliated Lenape (Delaware) and Cherokee heritage, she received a 2011-2012 NEH Faculty Fellowship for research into Northern Cheyenne ledger art.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-2013 Poet Laureate of Kansas, founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College (where she teaches). Author of 16 books including poetry, fiction, non-fiction and memoir, recent publications include The Divorce Girl (a novel, Ice Cube Press, 2012), and Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and a Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other (Potomac Press, 2012). She leads writing workshops widely, and with singer Kelley Hunt, co-writes songs, performs, and leads Brave Voice writing and singing workshops.

Walter Bargen, first poet laureate of Missouri, recently was awarded the William Rockhill Nelson Award for poetry for his book The Feast. Other books include Trouble Behind Glass Doors, and Days Like This Are Necessary. His poems and fictions have appeared in over one hundred magazines, including American Literary Review, American Letters & Commentary, and Denver Quarterly. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for theArts poetry fellowship (1991); winner of the Quarter After Eight Prose Prize (1996), the Hanks Prize (1996), and the Chester H. Jones Foundation poetry prize (1997).

Wyatt Townley is the 2013-2015 Poet Laureate of Kansas. Her work has been nominated for The Pushcard Prize, ready by Garrison Keillor on NPR, featured by Ted Kooser in his American Life in Poetry column, and appeared in hundreds of venues, including The Paris Review and Newsweek. Her books include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley Press). Formerly a dancer, she has taught yoga for over 30 years and is the founder of Yoganetics, a therapeutic system practiced in 10 countries.

William Trowbridge is the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate of Missouri. His poetry publications include five full collections: Ship of Fool (Red Hen Press, 2011), The Complete Book of Kong (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), Flickers, O Paradise, and Enter Dark Stranger (University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 1995, 1989), and three chapbooks, The Packing House Cantata (Camber Press, 2006), The Four Seasons (Red Dragonfly Press, 2001) and The Book of Kong (Iowa State University Press, l986). He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, and teaches in the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA in writing program.