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Bethany College to host Phill Provance for digital poetry events

BETHANY — A Bethany College alumnus who in October released a collection of poetry will host a two-day digital event that will culminate with the announcement of the winner of a $10,000 social media contest.

Phill Provance, who released “A Plan in Case of Morning” through Australian publisher Vine Leaves Press, will conduct a Bethany student-only writing workshop today, and a public panel seminar from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The events coincide with National Poetry Month.

“I wanted to give back to Bethany in some way for giving me the foundation on which I’ve built a career as a writer that’s seen me work for national publications, complete my M.F.A., and attend one of the highest-ranked PhD-granting graduate-level writing programs in the country at [University of Illinois Chicago], win thousands in grants, and both write and independently teach writing to the point that in my mid-30s I own three houses free and clear.”

Provance credits his success to several of his professor at Bethany including Walt Turner, John R. Taylor, Larry Grimes, Elizabeth Hull, Tony Mitch, and Harald Menz.

“When I look back on where my career has taken me, the people I’ve met, and the opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of in the past 15 years, much of it is directly due to the education and encouragement I received as an undergraduate,” Provance said.

Today’s workshop was available to up to 10 students on a first-come, first-served registration.

Poets Lauren Berry and Alexander P. Garza will join Provance for the panel seminar. They will offer readings and allow time for questions and open discussion. Provance will also announce the winner of the $10,000 prize funded by an anonymous fan of his work.

He holds an MFA in Poetry and Fiction from West Virginia Wesleyan and is presently a student in the University of Illinois Chicago’s highly selective Program for Writers.

Berry received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and an M.F.A. from the University of Houston, where she won the Inprint Verlaine Prize and served as poetry editor for Gulf Coast. From 2009 to 2010, she held the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Agni, Silk Road, The Adroit Journal, Denver Quarterly, and Iron Horse Literary Review. Terrance Hayes selected her first collection, “The Lifting Dress” (Penguin, 2011), to win the National Poetry Series prize. Her second collection, “The Rented Altar,” won the C&R Press Award in poetry. She teaches AP English Literature at YES Prep Public Schools, a charter school that provides college preparatory education to Houston’s most underserved communities.

Garza is a Mexican-American poet in the graduate Program for Writers at the University of Illinois Chicago. His work has appeared in Toyon, Indianapolis Review, Dissections, Star*Line, and others.

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