WriteAngles Conference announces new keynote speaker and award recipient: Vermont poet Shanta Lee to give address

Poet, visual artist, and journalist Shanta Lee is the new keynote speaker for the April 6 WriteAngles Conference in Northampton. 

Poet, visual artist, and journalist Shanta Lee is the new keynote speaker for the April 6 WriteAngles Conference in Northampton.  Photo by David Barnum/WriteAngles Conference website

Poet, visual artist, and journalist Shanta Lee is the new keynote speaker for the April 6 WriteAngles Conference in Northampton. 

Poet, visual artist, and journalist Shanta Lee is the new keynote speaker for the April 6 WriteAngles Conference in Northampton.  Image from WriteAngles Conference website

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 03-28-2024 12:19 PM

The WriteAngles Conference, the Valley literary get-together that has been revived after a five-year absence, has a new keynote speaker.

Shanta Lee, an award-winning poet, visual artist, and journalist from Vermont, will give the main address at the April 6 conference, at the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley. She’ll also receive the Abe Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award from the Straw Dog Writers Guild, the primary organizers of the conference.

The previous keynote speaker, poet and novelist Honorée Fannone Jeffers, unfortunately “had to cancel her participation for personal reasons,” according to Northampton author Ellen Meeropol, a member of Straw Dog Writers Guild and a key planner of WriteAngles.

Lee was the 2020 recipient of the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts and a gubernatorial appointee to the Vermont Humanities Council Board of Directors. Her poetry collection, “GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA,” won a 2021 Vermont Book Award, and her most recent work, “Black Metamorphoses,” was a finalist for the Hudson Prize.

Lee has also won awards from the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) for her journalism, and she is a regular contributor to Ms. Magazine and Art New England.

The Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award, which honors a writer whose work promotes social and political change through literature, is partially funded from royalties from Abel Meeropol’s iconic anti-lynching song, “Strange Fruit.”

The WriteAngles Conference, meantime, dates to 1987 and had been a key annual event for writers from across western Massachusetts until it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. It has just been re-established this year.

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On April 6. More information can be found at writeanglesconference.com.

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Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.