(WILSON, NC) Beckoning weary writers, the fourth annual Writers Who Play showcase on January 31, 2008, offers a night of music and relaxation at this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in New York City.

Writers Who Play began in 2005, started by “Alaska’s Fiddling Poet” Ken Waldman and by Barton writer in residence and Elizabeth H. Jordan professor of Southern literature Dr. Jim Clark. The duo created the showcase “for writers who come to the conference who are also musicians,” said Clark.

“Both of us had just been kind of noticing more and more and meeting more and more writers who were also musicians of one kind or another,” Clark explained. “And so, you know, we thought it would be kind of nice to have an opportunity for the writers who were attending the conference who were also musicians to play whatever kind of music they play.”

According to Clark, “though it is not officially affiliated with AWP, it has become a popular and much anticipated adjunct to the conference. … The showcase’s audience and popularity has increased every year. Attendance at the 2007 AWP conference in Atlanta was 5,200. We estimate our 2007 Writers Who Play showcase attracted between 200 and 300 people.”

Recounting the history of Writers Who Play, Clark said: “The first Writers Who Play showcase was at the 2005 AWP conference in Vancouver, B.C. (the first time the conference was held outside the U.S.). It took place at Crush Champagne Lounge, down the street from the conference hotel. Notable performers that year included poet and novelist Kim Addonizio and former member of The Velvet Underground Doug Yule.

“In 2006 Writers Who Play expanded to two nights of performances at The Ritz Theater on 6th Street, the legendary ‘party street’ of Austin, Texas, where the conference took place.

“In 2007 we again featured two nights of performances at the Hilton Downtown in Atlanta, Georgia, the first at Trader Vic’s Polynesian restaurant in the hotel, and the second in Casablanca, the hotel lobby bar.

“Plans are finalized for the 2008 Writers Who Play showcase in New York City. It will take place at Don’t Tell Mama, a well-known cabaret a few blocks from the Hilton conference hotel in Manhattan. This year Writers Who Play has gone ‘above ground’ just a bit, in that we have signed on (with Barton College) as an official sponsor of the 2008 conference, and we are also advertising the showcase in the conference program. My Elizabeth H. Jordan Endowed Chair stipend allowed for this,” said Clark.

Writers Who Play will perform on Thursday, January 31, from 8:15 p.m. until 1 a.m. The show is free; however, the venue imposes a two-drink minimum. The Don’t Tell Mama cabaret is located at 343 W. 46th St. in New York City and may be reached by phone at 212-757-0788.

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Questions? Please contact Ken Dozier, web services manager, at 252-399-6596 or email: kdozier@barton.edu.

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