Savannah Sipple, Leatha Kendrick and Marianne Worthington met several years ago at the Appalachian Writers Conference and haven’t been able to avoid each other ever since. The trio will be reunited on Friday, June 27, when they perform at CSA Live: An Evening of Story and Song, a collaborative concert celebrating LAL's first year of its Community Supported Art program. They were selected to perform by CSA musicians from local bands Small Batch and Ancient Warfare, who didn't know the women had long standing connections to one another as well as to the rural landscapes of Appalachia.
The three women were all featured in the publication, See How We Are, an edited collection of selected works from the 2013 Lexington Poetry Month and was featured in the Lexington Art League's inaugural CSA harvest last summer.
“It’s nice to have a community of writers working on their craft with no egotism in relation to working with new writers,” Kendrick says of initiatives like Lexington Poetry Month.
Kendrick had always been interested in writing, but it wasn’t until moving to Floyd County that she began to take it seriously.
She claims that it was Appalachia that truly made her a writer.
“It was in Appalachia where I became aware of landscape in a totally different way...aware of the shadows in relation to the land and sky. It’s all intensified in Eastern Kentucky,” she says.
Kendrick’s work embodies a variety of subjects, including womanhood, cancer, love, loss, and pride in place.
“I have several poems prepared,” Leatha says about her performance at CSA Live. “I’ll decide what to read after observing what’s going on around me. I want the show to be as spontaneous and interactive as possible.”
Kendrick and Marianne Worthington have an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship that has bloomed over years of attending writing workshops and tutoring sessions.
“Leatha and I have a strong personal connection. She was the first person to take me seriously as a writer and a poet,” Worthington says.
Worthington’s poems are about family or music. As she is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, her work is partly driven by its rich musical legacy.
“My work is based deeply in place,” says Worthington.
Many of her pieces focus on portraying specific viewpoints of major musical artists who had their start in the area, such as Dolly Parton. These pieces are part of a manuscript she is currently working on.
“I’m just so excited to work with women writers I really admire,” Worthington says.
“Being able to read their work is very inspiring...it’s like watching seasons change and come back around,”Leatha said of watching Sipple and Worthington’s work evolve.
Sipple is most focused on writing a collection of persona poems, which are poems written from the perspective of a certain character. Her series is dedicated to creating personas that convey the Appalachian experience. She currently has a
complete manuscript and plans to enter it into various book contests.
“Place is a huge theme in my collection,” Sipple says. “Normally Appalachia is portrayed in a negative way, and I hope to offer a well rounded perspective and show how complicated it is even though it’s not that different than anywhere else.”
When asked about what she will read during CSA Live, Sipple says she had not picked specific poems, but they will most likely be from her collection of persona poems.
“My work also focuses on loss. The idea of loving where you’re from and deciding to leave it,” Sipple says.
The three poets express their excitement to perform, but more so to gain more artistic experiences. Kendrick says she’s most excited for the conversations after the show that may provide inspiration for future work.
“Even if we are not outwardly collaborating, the spirit or feeling of positivity is there that’s not always there when you’re by yourself,” Kendrick says. “Writing is so deeply a community activity.”
“It’s a real honor to have been chosen by the musicians,” Worthington says. “I’m extremely excited to meet them.”
“The more people you have connected across mediums, the more likely you are to evoke change,” Sipple says, “This is a great opportunity for Lexington and surrounding areas.”
“Every opportunity that we can create for writers and artists to cross paths enriches the community,” Kendrick says. “Nothing happens without creativity at heart.”
Kendrick, Sipple, and Worthington will appear live alongside CSA musicians, including members of Small Batch, Ancient Warfare, and Emily Hagihara with Severn Edmondson, Joe Drury and Derek Rhineheinmer, on Friday, June 27 at 8 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets are $15 and available online and at the door. Don't miss this one of a kind experience!