Appalachian writers whose experiences are different than those most often portrayed in the media will be featured in three events that examine what it means to be a person of color in a region that is stereotypically portrayed as white. The first event, “A Reading by Emerging Appalachian Writers of Color,” is Wednesday (Dec. 2) at 7 p.m. and is presented by the West Virginia University Humanities Center.
"We've put together the series to celebrate the extraordinary talent of diverse literary voices in Appalachia, a region that is too often assumed to be monolithically white." —Ann Pancake, WVU Writer in Residence
Dec. 2, 7 p.m.
A Reading by Emerging Appalachian Writers of Color, featuring Rayna Momen, Torli Bush, and Matt Saporito
Torli Bush is a poet from Webster Springs. He is a 2017 graduate of WVU's Mechanical Engineering program, and is currently pursuing an MFA at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He has been featured at The Lewisburg Literary Festival, WV Governor's School for the Arts, and Travelin' Appalachians Revue.
Rayna Momen is a non-binary Affrilachian poet and sociology doctoral student, born and raised in West Virginia. Their poetry has appeared in Cold Creek Review, One Person’s Trash, Split This Rock, and elsewhere. Their work has also been anthologized in several collections, including The Whole Desolate Day (Little Lark Press, 2015).
Matt Saporito is a recent graduate from West Virginia University’s MFA program in fiction. Matt’s thesis, Sunday Born, is a collection of connected short stories about an extended family that resides on the Island, a community on the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia. This work explores growing up black in Wheeling, colorism, respectability politics, and literal ghosts.
Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
A Panel on Affrilachian Writing, featuring Amy Alvarez and Theresa Burriss
Amy M. Alvarez is a poet, educator, and scholar. Her work focuses on race, ethnicity, gender, regionality, nationality, borderless-ness, and systemic injustice/social justice. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, PRISM international, Rattle, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. She is both a CantoMundo and VONA Writing Fellow. She lives in Morgantown, West Virginia and teaches writing at West Virginia University.
Theresa L. Burriss holds a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies: Appalachian Studies/Women’s Studies from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, OH. At Radford University, she teaches multidisciplinary graduate classes in Appalachian Studies, as well as Appalachian Literature. Theresa has published literary criticism on the Affrilachian Writers, including chapters in An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature (Ohio UP 2005) and Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region (Ohio UP 2013), for which she served as co-editor with Patricia Gantt. In 2020, Governor Ralph Northam appointed Theresa to the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice for 2021-2022.
Jan. 13, 2021 7 p.m.
A Reading by Novelist Annette Clapsaddle
Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her work Going to Water won the Morning Star Award for Creative Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium and was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. She is coeditor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and serves on the board of trustees for the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Her new novel, Even As We Breathe, has been praised as “a splendid debut” (Charles Frazier); “an awakening” (David Joy); and “a revelation” (Lee Smith).
CONTACT: Renee Nicholson
WVU Humanities Center
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