Shorter University will host Poet William Kelley Woolfitt for a poetry master class and reading on Thursday, March 24, as part of the 101st issue release party for “The Chimes” literary magazine. The master class will be held in the Hardeman Room of Shorter’s Livingston Library at 5 p.m., and the release party will follow at 6 p.m. in the Eubanks Room. The events are open to the public at no charge.
Dr. Woolfitt serves as assistant professor of English at Lee University, specializing in creative writing. His first book of poetry won the Texas Review Breakthrough Poetry Contest (Beauty Strip, 2014). His second book, “Charles of the Desert,” a biographical cycle depicting the life of a French hermit-missionary to Algeria, is coming out this year from the distinguished Christian publisher Paraclete Press.
Woolfitt has published more than 100 poems individually in a wide variety of journals, including such spiritually focused outlets as “Image,” “Christianity and Literature,” “The Christian Century,” and “The Wayfarer.” He is also the author of 35 published short stories.
Shorter University Assistant Professor of English and French Fabrice Poussin, who serves as faculty advisor to “The Chimes,” said the opportunity to meet Woolfitt is valuable for any English major or student interested in publishing, writing, and literature.
A recipient of the Plattner Award in fiction from Appalachian Heritage, Woolfitt also won first place in the Epiphany Edition’s fiction chapbook contest and has received three Pushcart Prize nominations for his poems “St. Teresa of Avila Compares the Soul to a Palm Cabbage,” “The Tales Told about Sister,” and “The Foot Washer.” He received the Howard Nemerov Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers Conference. Recently Pennsylvania State University, from which he received his Master of Fine Arts in 2009 and his Doctor of Philosophy in 2012, invited him for a reading on campus as one of five recent graduates to have published a book of poetry.
In addition to his prolific output, Woolfitt has found time to maintain a blog, Speaking of Marvels, featuring many interviews with writers of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Similarly, skyping with creative writers features frequently in his creative courses at Lee; he helps those writers become more widely known and provides his students with many different models for the creative writing lifestyle. He is faculty sponsor of Lee’s creative writing journal, “The Lee Review,” and serves on the board of Lee’s annual Writers Festival.
His writing and teaching consistently push past a notion of writing as mere self-expression, push forward toward a creative vocation for the benefit of others. Woolfitt is interested in what other people have to say, in other people’s voices and stories. His Ph.D. dissertation examined a range of African-American, Native American, and Appalachian writers. Much of his poetry and his fiction is made up of other people’s voices (a Native American surviving the 1838 removal, a haunting face in a photograph from a book about poverty, a name in a newspaper clipping), all part of his broader project to uncover histories that have been silenced and erased.
The master class and Chimes release party are part of English Week, an event sponsored by Shorter’s Department of English, Modern Languages, and Liberal Arts. The event features a photography fundraiser featuring the works of Dr. Poussin. The fundraiser will be held Monday through Thursday, March 21-24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day in Shorter’s Fitton Student Union. The public is invited.
The sale, the proceeds of which will be used for special projects within the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Liberal Arts, will include photographs of the Shorter campus and the City of Rome, as well as others taken in France, England and the Eastern and Southwestern United States. Double-matted 8×10 prints are available for a minimum donation of $5, with 11×14 prints priced at $10. Anyone donating above the minimum price may have their print signed by the artist.
In addition, the English department will host a game night on Monday, March 21, and a storytelling and crafts night on Tuesday, March 22.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. Shorter is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.