Novelist and poet Bill Ransom, who founded the Port Townsend Writers' Conference in 1974, is teaching two afternoon workshops as part of the 2010 Conference and is donating scholarship money in honor of his friend, the poet Ken Brewer, who passed away in 2006.
Brewer's academic career was spent at Utah State, where he was a prominent and revered faculty member. He retired in 2000, having taught courses in poetry writing, essay writing, methods of teaching creative writing, and creative nonfiction. He pioneered the teaching of creative writing online. Ken also served as Director of Graduate Studies in English, a role for which he was named Outstanding Graduate Mentor in 1998. Always a strong proponent of public humanities, he was constantly active in bringing writers, scholars, and artists to campus, particularly as director of the Mountain West Writers and Western Writing Conference.
During his career, Brewer published well over 300 poems, essays, and reviews, including fourteen books of poetry. In recognition of the substance and quality of his work—as well as his advocacy of the humanities—Governor Michael Leavitt named him Utah’s first Poet Laureate in 2003, a post in which Ken was serving at the time of his death. Ken said this appointment was the peak of his career, and he devoted himself to making poetry more widely appreciated and accessible across the state, whether he was addressing the legislature or encouraging second graders to write poems. Some of his finest poetry was written during his courageously honest and open battle with pancreatic cancer, when he determined to write a poem a day. When he was featured on CBS Evening News, he received appreciative responses from across the country for his compassion and understanding of what this illness means.
Here’s a link to some of Ken’s poems read by faculty and students at Southern Utah University:
Scholarships applications happen as part of the Conference registration process. Registration remains open for Conference offerings. The Port Townsend Writers' Conference happens this year from July 18-25.