2024 Power of Words Schedule

September 26-29, 2024 at Unity Village, Missouri

This powerful conference brings together writers, storytellers, performers, musicians, educators, activists, healers, health professionals, community leaders, and more! Together we explore the written, spoken and sung word, seeking to find how it can bring liberation, celebration, and transformation to individuals and communities. 

The important stuff:

Early Bird pricing has been extended to August 1st!

The session descriptions.
Travel and lodging information.
Information about becoming a sponsor or underwriter.

Scholarship and Work-Study Info & application form. (We offer work-study positions as well as partial scholarships for the general public and students and for people of color or people living with serious illness and/or disability.)

Register Now

(If you join the TLA Network as a member, you will save on the conference now, and on classes and other offerings later.)

Conference Schedule

All times listed are U.S. Central Time (UTC -5)

Thursday, September 26, 2024:

7-9 p.m.—Pre-conference:

Poet Laureati: A Celebration with Midwest Poets Laureate: Huascar Medina, Glenn North, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Wyatt Townley, Eric McHenry, Maryfrances Wagner

Friday, September 27, 2024:


9:30–12 p.m.—Pre-Conference Workshops:

  • Marianela Medrano - Mindful Writing for Transformative Grief

  • Exodus Oktavia Brownlow – Writing Strictly from The Imagination: Giving a Voice to Those Literally Without and How Deeply Sitting with the Inanimate Teaches Us the True Complexities About The World

12-1 p.m.—Lunch

2-4:30 p.m.—Pre-Conference Workshops

  • Glenn North: Field trip to Kansas City Museum for tour and Restorative Poetics workshop.

  • Ada ChengIn the Service of Community: Weaving Art, Love, and Hope to Create Intimate Spaces.

  • Jennifer NeToiDivine Ink: Crafting Theopoetic Journeys Through Poetry and Handmade Books.


4-6 p.m.—Check-in

6-7 p.m.—Dinner

7-8:30 p.m.—Opening session:

  • Introductions
  • Marianela Medrano—Embodiment of Interbeing Through Mindful Writing
  • Vi Tran—concert
  • and special surprises!

9-10 p.m.—Song Circle

  • Open mic for participants sharing songs with each other.

10 p.m.—Night Sky Walk & Talk with David Beier

Saturday, September 28, 2024


9-10 a.m.—Talking Circles

  • Get to know a small group of new friends.

10:15-11:30 a.m.—Workshop session #1; 5 concurrent workshops

  1. It’s Not Just Play: Whole-Body Narrative for Marginalized Voices - Meghann Perry

  2. Where’s the Money, Honey?: The Art of Bringing Home the Bacon - Kathryn Lorenzen, Cheryl Kane, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

  3. That Reminds Me of a Story - Lewis Mehl-Medrona and Barbara Mainguy

  4. The Power of Our Words For Civic Engagement - Brittany Crabtree & Chris Kempke 

  5. Finding the Voice of Our Bodies Through Poetry - Shelby Jordan 

12-1 p.m.—Lunch

1-2 p.m.—Keynote performances

  • Exodus Oktavia Brownlow – "You Mold Your M's Like Soft Mounds, and I Sharpen My M's Like Pointed Mountains, But Maybe We Could Meet in The Middle and Make a Smooth Hill?" 

  • Joy Zimmerman – Hear Our Voices Concert

2:15-3:30 p.m.—Workshop session #2; 5 concurrent workshops

  1. Theatre for All: Inclusion, Sharing Talents, and Championing Disability Justice - Wilbur Neuschwander-Frink

  2. Words of Power, Enriching CommUNITY - Alec Esparza

  3. Reclaiming Your Story: Writing Memoir, Mental Health, and the Body - Jane Hseu, Kimberly Gomes, Danielle Bainbridge

  4. Close Encounters: When Poetry Intersects With the Healing Power of Nature - Julie Martin

  5. Better Together: Collaborating in the Arts - Olive Sullivan

3:45-5 p.m.—Workshop session #3; 5 concurrent workshops
  1. Activating your Family Archive - Amanda Lacson

  2. My Tree Called Life: Writing and Living Through Serious Illness – Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, John Swainston, Kimberly Deeken, Lou Eisenbrandt, Maggie Mosher, Michelle Finnerty, Kim Phillips

  3. Seeking Soul Through Nature and Poetry- Bobbie Jo Morrell

  4. Writing Monologues for Healing & Transformation: Making the Leap from Page to Stage - Kelly DuMar

  5. Our Stories in a Glance: Manhattan Community Video-Portraits - Amy Gross

5-6 p.m.—Immersions: Music, Story, or Energy; 3 concurrent experiences

  1. Notorious Chorus - Beth Watts Nelson

  2. The Great Migration: A Daughter Makes Her Bones - Oyah 

  3. Reiki for TLA: Changing the World from the Inside Out - Ashley Barnes

6-7 p.m.—Dinner

7-8:30 p.m.—Keynote performances

  • Glenn North - "To Make a Poet Black and Bid Him Sing"
  • Ada Cheng - "Speaking in Tongues: Three Tales in Our Troubling Time"

8:45-10:15 p.m.—Open Mic for Writing, Storytelling, Theater & Music

10 p.m.—Night Sky Walk & Talk with David Beier

Sunday, September 29, 2024:


9-10 a.m.—Talking Circles

  • Get to know a small group of new friends.

10:15-11:30 a.m.—Workshop session #4; 5 concurrent workshops

  1. What's Going On: Music for Personal & Community Transformation - Joy Zimmerman

  2. Metamorphosis Through Verse: Poetry and Self-Transformation – Danielle Langin

  3. Medicinal & Poetical Wordplay - Christopher Sims

  4. Speaking Up for Themselves Through Barrier-Free Theatre - Sally Bailey, Elise Kellogg and Merri Bork

  5. The Art (and Artifice) of Your Inner Critic - Judy Brenneman 

12-1 p.m.—Lunch

1-2 p.m.—Closing ceremony with music from Kathryn Lorenzen

You can find travel and lodging information here and become a sponsor or underwriter here.

Register Now

(If you join the TLA Network as a member, you will save on the conference now, and on classes and other offerings later.)

Testimonials From Past Conferences

"Come and meet some seriously interesting and diverse people with a love of transformational politics, poetry and language. I loved the whole experience!"

Barbara Bloomfield

"I always appreciate the comraderie at this event. People are non-judgemental and open. I don’t think it would be possible to feel more accepted or at peace. This truly satisfies and transcends the human experience by combining heart with art."

— Anonymous

"The Transformation Language Arts conference provides a home for artists, writers and musicians who want to help create a peaceful world. I go to learn, I go to contribute, I go to sustain hope."

Diane Glass

"As an artist and philanthropist who participates in artistic/humanities conference and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Middle East - I'm very impressed with this conference! The workshop and performance presenters were diverse; audience participants supportive; key note speakers memorable; staff magnificent. A genuine pleasure to be in attendance!"

Joseph Galata

"The TLA Conference is an adventure of diving into a deep pool of unexpected discoveries. Some are delightful and awe-inspiring, some frightening and strange, but the immersion in diversity and the authenticity of the presenter's (and participant's) stories and presence is palpable and real. A necessary reminder of what we are so starved for in the current climate of media and political rhetoric. If change is going to be sustainable and humane, we need more people trained and working with the qualities of these warriors. The Conference is a way to either dip a toe in or dive in head first."

Robin Russell

"The Power of Words Conference...in the midst of the unpredictability of daily life, for a few precious days I found myself surrounded by beauty, reminded yet again how art and wordcraft are not luxuries, to paraphrase Audre Lorde, but tools for survival, 'sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas.'

We think and language into existence, whether our language takes the shape of words, images, sounds, or movements, summoning new worlds with our breath and our bodies. And as we come together to share we move away from isolation and fear and into one another, drawing close to the hearth where we warm and nourish ourselves before heading back out.

This is the power of words -- that something so fragile, awkward, limited and limiting can, in the end, still be a way in: a key in a lock, a warm breeze signaling an end to winter's slumber, a torch to light the way."

Shomriel Sherman

The TLA Network exists to support and promote individuals and organizations that use the spoken, written, or sung word as a tool for personal and community transformation.

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