The Center for Creative Solutions will feature five published poets on April 17 at the Michigan City Public Library at 100 East 4th Street. The special program is part of Northwest Indiana’s celebration of World Creativity & Innovation Week, April 15-21. Featured poets include Carnessa Carnes, Carmen Navarro, Kayla Vasilko, Jamie Wendt, and Valerie Wallace.

The evening will begin with a light dinner at 5:30 p.m. The poets will then read their selected work, followed by a Q and A, and a meet and greet opportunity with each poet. Books and materials will be available, according to Judy Jacobi, program convener. The event is expected to end by 8:00 p.m.

Women’s Voices in Poetry is free of charge, and open to people of all ages. Reservations are not necessary. The program is made possible, in part, by the Bud Ruby Special Projects Fund and the Blossom and Irving Levin Jewish Cultural Fund, both of the Sinai Temple, Michigan City.

Featured poets are:

• Carnes has gone against the grain of her traditional upbringing. She has developed a love for different genres of music; finds liberation through her poetic voice; and performs hip-hop, rap, rock and R and B.
A well-known poet in Northwest Indiana, her career path has given her a diverse palette from which to draw. Carnes has served in the United States Armed Forces, at the La Porte County Dorothy S. Crowley Juvenile Services Center, and now with the La Porte County Boys and Girls Club.
• Navarro recently was named La Porte County’s first Youth Poet Laureate. In April 2023, she took first place in the the 9th-grade category of the Poetry Showcase, sponsored by the Center for Creative Solutions. She is currently a sophomore at La Lumiere School.

• Vasilko’s recent publications include “The Barriers We Choose; “If Men Can Do It, Then So Can a Woman;” and “Inspiring Determination through Service Learning and Silent Movies.” Vasilko was named the Outstanding Graduate Student at Purdue University Northwest in 2023. She received the Eugene V. Debs Award for 2022 and 2023 in Communication for the Social Good. In 2021, Vasilko was La Porte County Historian of the year.

Vasilko is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Ivy Tech Valparaiso and develops student engagement opportunities for PNW students.

• Wendt is the author of the poetry collection, Fruit of the Earth (Main Street Rag, 2018). It won the 2019 National Federation of Press Women Book Award in Poetry. Her manuscript, “Laughing in Yiddish,” was a finalist for the 2022 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. Wendt’s poems and essays have been published in various literary journals and anthologies, including Feminine Rising, Green Mountains Review, Lilith, Jet Fuel Review, the Forward, Poetica Magazine, and others.

Wendt contributes book reviews to the Jewish Book Council. She received a Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention and was nominated for Best Spiritual Literature. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. Wendt is a middle school humanities teacher and lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
• Wallace is the author of House of McQueen. It was selected by Vievee Francis for the Four Way Books Intro Award in Poetry and named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Review of Books. She has also written the chapbook. The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping, featuring 10 poems chosen by Margaret Atwood for the Atty Award.
Wallace’s work appears in many journals and anthologies including Poetry, Academy of American Poets, The Eloquent Poem, and more. She has led poetry workshops and taught with the Hyde Park Art Center; Chicago’s Newberry Library; Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Northwestern University Summer Program, City Colleges of Chicago, and privately. Wallace is also a website designer.
Co-sponsors for this year’s World Creativity and Innovation Week are the Bethany Church Foundation of La Porte, WIMS Radio, Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, and Lakeshore Public Radio’s program, Art on the Air.
For more information, contact Cynthia Hedge, CEO of the Center for Creative Solutions at 219-326-7259 or The Center is a local non-profit organization devoted to encouraging a community culture of creativity and innovation through creativity events and workshops.
Currently, 140 countries observe World Creativity & Innovation Week. The United Nations has designated April 21 as World Creativity & Innovation Day. For a look at the week’s international activities, check out