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History

The Redrock Writers Guild was formed at Tuacahn Center for the Arts in 1997. The meeting to form the guild was attended by LaVerna B. Johnson, Donna Mackert, Ace Pilkington, Guy Lebeda and Lyle Lapray. LaVerna B. Johnson was voted in as President.

Initiation of the Guild began in September of 2006 by LaVerna B. Johnson, who enlisted the vision of Lyle Lapray, Director of Tuacahn, and the talents of Donna K. Mackert, a noted poet who was moving to the area. Donna’s formal 9 week workshops of three hours once a week began February 10, 2007. A small fee was charged.

The dedicated focus was on teaching and learning skills for writing poetry. The first series taught by Donna K. Mackert was entitled “Unveiling the Poet Within.” This and subsequent workshops served to inspire many Southern Utah poets.

February 1, 2007 Redrock Writers Guild sponsored a Poetry Reading/Seminar to honor Utah’s first Poet Laureate, David Lee. This, his first official presentation, was accompanied by author Lyman Hafen, and two future Utah Poet Laureates: Dr. Ken Brewer, and Katherine Coles. An elegant reception in his honor followed. As with all subsequent seminars, several high school students were scholarshipped to participate in this event.

This began the Guild’s sponsorship of monthly Second Wednesday Readings and annual Redrock Writers’ Seminars which continue with a wide variety of poets of both local and national stature. Monthly readings are free to the public. They are now conducted at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Red Hills Mall, St. George, Utah.

Seminars, for a minimal fee, are held in March of each year, at which time winners of the Chaparral Poetry Forum Contest are announced. Past Chairs: Donna K. Mackert, Rodney C. Dueck, LaVerna B. Johnson, D. Gary Christian. Present Chairs: Barbara Funke and Markay Brown.

In 2002-3 the Chaparral Poetry Forum contest was initiated by President D. Gary Christian. It enjoys encouraging growth–our 2007-08 contest had 250 entries from all over the USA. A Student Division for high school students and grade school students of Washington County encourage young poets as well. Coordinator for the Poetry Contest & Editor of the Annual Chaparral Poetry Forum Chapbook is Barbara Funke. Our long term aim is to make this a premiere poetry contest in the U.S.A.

Redrock Writers depends on the voluntary efforts of Southern Utah writers who participate in our collective learning, write and read their poetry, and help organize and lead our regular activities. We deeply appreciate the contributions of members of UTSPS Dixie Chapter, the Utah State Poetry Society, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Heritage Writers Guild and The League of Utah Writers. We also express appreciation to outstanding poets from across America who participate in blind judging our yearly contest.

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