MURRAY, Ky. — The MFA program in creative writing at Murray State University will sponsor a number of events in July, including a weekend of creative writing workshops for adults as well as several free events open to the public that are part of the program’s July Residency Reading Series.

The weekend of creative writing workshops for adults ages 18 and older will be held July 7–8 from 9 a.m. to noon in Pogue Library. The cost to attend the workshop is $50 per person. Registration information and a schedule of events can be found at

Acclaimed fiction writer Crystal Wilkinson will teach a workshop titled, “From Belly to Heart: Writing Stories.” This is a workshop for those who wish to improve their craft of writing fiction.

“We will generate new material by mining stories that are lying at the bottom of our bellies and on the top of our hearts,” Crystal Wilkinson said. “Everyone has within them an automatic piece of fiction. What do we tell? What do we keep to ourselves? We’ll write toward a balance of the sacred and the memorable. Each participant will leave this workshop with the impression of a new story — one that is deeply felt — ready to be crafted.”

An official headshot of Crystal Wilkinson.
Pictured: Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson is the recipient of the 2018 Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writer’s Residency and a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a literary collective that represents the multicultural reality of the Appalachian region. Her 2016 novel “The Birds of Opulence” won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature and the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. Her other works include the short story collections “Blackberries, Blackberries,” winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature, and “Water Street,” a finalist for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. She is also the recipient of the Denny Plattner Award in Poetry from the Appalachian Heritage magazine and the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Crystal Wilkinson co-owns the Wild Fig bookstore in Lexington with Ron Davis and, in fall 2018, she will join the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Kentucky.

Award-winning poet Caki Wilkinson will also teach a poetry workshop titled “Inventive Revision.” Caki Wilkinson is the author of the poetry collections “Circles Where the Head Should Be” and “The Wynona Stone Poems.” Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Nation, The Yale Review, The Kenyon Review and other magazines. She currently directs the creative writing program at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

An official headshot of Caki Wilkinson.
Pictured: Caki Wilkinson

“[This workshop] will center on inventive revision — not the delicate tweaks and edits we make to poems we already like but large-scale rejiggering and outright resuscitation,” Caki Wilkinson said. “We’ll discuss craft-based strategies for reentering stalled poems as well as creative ways to take poems apart and turn busted drafts into new work. All writers — and poems — are welcome.”

The July Residency Reading Series, which features readings and presentations that are free and open to the public, will begin with a reading from Crystal Wilkinson on Friday, July 6, at 7:30 p.m. and will continue with a reading from Caki Wilkinson on Saturday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. Both presentations will take place in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery on the sixth floor of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building.

Pamela Johnson Parker and Christopher P. Collins, two MFA program alumni, will then read from their work Sunday, July 8, at 2:30 p.m. in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery.

Pamela Parker standing in front of a microphone.
Pictured: Pamela Johnson Parker

Parker is the author of two chapbooks, “Other Four-Letter Words” and “A Walk through the Memory Palace.” Her work has appeared in various publications, such as Iron Horse Literary Review, New Madrid, American Poetry Journal, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, The Rivers Anthology, Best New Poets 2011 and more. She currently works in the department of art & design at Murray State — where she has also taught humanities, creative writing, contemporary poetry and forms of fiction for the past decade — in addition to serving as a freelance medical editor and as the prose editor for the Alligator Juniper literary magazine.

Chris Collins standing in front of a tree.
Pictured: Christopher Collins

Collins is a former military officer and a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, having completed three overseas combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the 2015 winner of Farmingdale’s Paumanok Poetry Award and has published one poetry chapbook, “Gathering Leaves for War.” He holds an MFA from Murray State and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati. In fall 2018, Collins will join the faculty of the English department at Wilmington College in Ohio.

An official headshot of Casey Pycior.
Pictured: Casey Pycior

Casey Pycior will then conclude the series Wednesday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery. Pycior is the author of the short story collection “The Spoils” and was awarded the 2015 Charles Johnson Fiction Award at Crab Orchard Review. His work has appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Harpur Palate, Wigleaf and Crab Orchard Review among other places. He earned his MFA from Wichita State University and his PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana and serves as fiction editor for Southern Indiana Review.

Visit or contact Dr. Carrie Jerrell, program director, at 270-809-4723 or for more information about the workshop or July Residency Reading Series.

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