winter 2019 NEWS


NEW WORK BY STUDENTS, ALUMNI & FACULTY ON THE SHELVES AND ONLINE: Hot off the presses—two new books by MFA guest faculty: nonfiction faculty Matthew Ferrence’s memoir Appalachia North out with WVU Press; read a review in the WV Gazette Mail; and fiction faculty Mesha Maren’s novel Sugar Run now out with Algonquin with a review in the New York Times. Also the Second Edition of the novel Waters Run Wild by Andrea Fekete (Fiction 2014) was recently released from Guest Room Press.

Read poems by Daina Savage (Poetry 2020) in the Ritual Issue of Thalia Magazine, poems by Brigid Hokana (Nonfiction 2020) in the Free Library of the Internet Void, and poems by Semein Washington (Poetry 2019) in Sijo: An International Journal for Poetry and Song. Other work live online: poems by Phill Provance (Poetry 2019) in the winter issue of Rat’s Ass ReviewVince Trimboli’s (Poetry 2013) poems in LA’s Cultural Weekly (one of which, “Where To Find Queer Love in Appalachia,” has been nominated for a Pushcart) and his review of Junkie Wife, by Alexis Rhone Fancher, in Southern Florida Poetry Review (the same review will appear in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review in Feb 2019). Also live is nonfiction faculty Eric Waggoner’s profile on Lowell Mason, once billed around the world as “Little Lowell, the World’s Smallest Gospel Singer,” publication by, a multimedia quarterly created by film director Nicolas Winding Refn. (You’ll need to create a password to access the site (which contains full-length films as well as writing, music, and photography), but it’s all free.)

FORTHCOMING WORK: Alumni books now available for preorder: Larry Thacker’s (Poetry 2018) poetry collection Grave Robber Confessional with Main Street Rag, Phill Provance’s A Brief History of Woodbridge, New Jersey with The History Press (out in April), and Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, a collection co-edited by Andrea Fekete and Lara Lillibridge (Nonfiction 2016), with work from Rachel Hicks (Poetry 2016), Mary Imo-Stike (Poetry 2015), Lisa Hayes Minney (Nonfiction 2017), and Jessica Spruill (Poetry 2015) (along with other contributors), on schedule for release April 30 with Cynren Press.

Look for poetry faculty Mark DeFoe’s new work forthcoming in Hollin’s Critic, Broadkill Review, Chaffin Review, Pine Mt. Sand and Gravel and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Vol. X; poems by Kevin Chesser (Poetry 2015) in Vol 2. of Fearsome Critters Journal this winter, in Still: The Journal in February, and in Hobart in spring; and poems by Marilyn Stearns (Poetry 2015) in We Are Residents Here, an anthology of poems from the 2018 Bridgewater (VA) International Poetry Festival.

Other books on the horizon: a new chapbook by Vince Trimboli, Book of Rabbits, will be out in May through Moon Tide Press of Whittier, CA; Lara Lillibridge’s second memoir, Mama, Mama, Only Mama: An Irreverent Guide for the Newly Single Parent—From Divorce and Dating to Cooking and Crafting, All While Raising the Kids and Maintaining Your Own Sanity (Sort Of) will be released May 7, 2019 with Skyhorse Publishing; and prose faculty Karen Salyer McElmurray’s essay collection Voice Lessons is slated for publication with Iris Press in December 2019.

GIGS & ACCOLADES: The community has been active on the literary scene this fall and winter: Marilyn Stearns held a book signing of her recently published Sundry Voices at the Winchester Book Gallery on Sept 29; Andrea Fekete read at historic Craik-Patton House during the West Virginia Book Festival on October 24; Jessie van Eerden read for the Thornton Series at University of Lynchburg Sept 27, served on the panel “The Faithful and the Faithless: Nonfictionists on Religion and Spirituality”at Nonfiction Now November 2, and presented at the “Body & Soul in Appalachian Literature” Literary Festival at Emory & Henry Nov 8. Mary Imo-Stike read at the final Wordstock Wednesday held in Philippi, WV (a series curated by Jessica Spruill) on Nov 14.

And in the new year, Lara Lillibridge has been selected to judge CNF submissions for the AWP Intro Journals Award; and on Jan 8 More Than Words, the reading series hosted by Mary Imo-Stike and memoirist Cat Pleska, kicked off its third season with poetry faculty Doug Van Gundy at Hidden Creek Mercantile in Hurricane, WV.

Doug Van Gundy also won Honorable Mention in Exposition Review’s flash fiction contest, “Mystery”, judged by Glen David Gold—read his flash piece “Hide and Seek.” Three alums were finalists in the Still 2018 ContestsAndrea Fekete in fiction for “Native Trees,” Mary Imo-Stike in poetry for “Bury Me Face Down in Spring,” and David Evans (Nonfiction 2018) in nonfiction for “Farewell, My Lovely.” A couple more Pushcart Prize nominations as well: David Evans for “Divine Wind” by Still and Karen Salyer McElmurray for “Attics” by Appalachian Heritage. Nonfiction faculty Katie Fallon’s essay “Feeding” in Still was nominated by for a Best of the Net award; Phill Provance’s poem “Triangle” was named a finalist for the Broad River Review’s 2018 Rash Award by judge Maurice Manning, and Phill’s poem “Given the Day” has been nominated for a 2018 Best of the Net award by Sheila-na-Gig.

On the career front: Delaney McLemore (Nonfiction 2018) is starting the new year pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Lisa Hayes Minney has been promoted to Library Director of Gilmer Public Library, and Jeremy Bryant (Nonfiction 2017) has been promoted to Assistant Professor of English at University of Lynchburg. Ginny Rachel (Fiction 2015), teaching this year at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, was accepted as part of the first cohort of Digital Humanities Research Institute participants at A-State.

Elizabeth Gaucher (Nonfiction 2015), founding editor of Longridge Review, is establishing a writing prize in creative nonfiction to honor Anne Clinard Barnhill who passed away in January; Anne was a WV writer who had tremendous positive influence on Elizabeth; read more at this link and consider donating to the prize in her honor. And, finally, at winter residency, led by Sharon Waters (Nonfiction 2020) and Abby Chandler (Fiction 2020), the MFA community celebrated the life and work of Okey Napier, a beloved student who passed away in July of 2018. We are still growing our diversity and inclusion scholarship fund in Okey’s honor with a goal of endowing the fund in the coming year.


January-March, Follow Mesha Maren’s book tour!

February 9, Doug Van Gundy and prose faculty Richard Schmitt and others will read at Joe N’ Throw in Fairmont, WV, 2-4 pm

February 11, Beasa Dukes (Fiction 2019) and Semein Washington will be reading at Chop Suey Books in Richmond, VA.

February 11, Jessie van Eerden will present the workshop “Writing in the Gaps” at Berea College, 6 pm

February 14, 7:30 pm Beer & Bards at Three Quarter Café in Buckhannon, WV, reading series curated by Shauna Jones (Nonfiction 2013), featured reader: Poet Elizabeth Savage

March 14, 7:30 pm Beer & Bards at Three Quarter Café in Buckhannon, featured reader: Jeff Webb (Fiction 2015)

March 15, Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference Panel: “From Within the Community: Intergenerational Friendships Between Appalachian Writers”: Amber Milstead (Fiction 2019), Karen Salyer McElmurray, Velicia Darquenne (Fiction 2018), Larry Thacker, 8:30-9:45 am

March 16, ASA Conference Panel: “Against Tellability: Practitioners and Teachers of Creative Writing Wrestle with Appalachian Identity”: Jessie van Eerden, nonfiction faculty Jeremy B. Jones, Doug Van Gundy, Amanda Jo Slone (Fiction 2017), 10-11:15 am

March 17, ASA Conference Panel: “The Road Home: Sustaining Our Spirit of Appalachia”: Ginny Rachel, David Evans, Jessica SpruillEric Waggoner, 8:30-9:45 am.

March 30, AWP Conference, Karen Salyer McElmurray will present on the panel “The World Splitting Open: From Memoir to #MeToo” with Reyna Grande, Janice Gary, Sue William Silverman, and Aimee Liu, 10:30-11:45 am

April 11, Ginny Rachel will read creative nonfiction as part of a panel including fiction, poetry and photography: “Discovering a Sense of Place: Redefining Dislocation in the Delta” at the 2019 Delta Symposium at Arkansas State University, 2:45-4:00 PM

Apr 11, 7:30 pm Beer & Bards at Three Quarter Café in Buckhannon: Vandalia Reading

You can keep up with regular MFA news blasts on the HeartWood Blog, edited with great enthusiasm & love by Vicki Phillips (Fiction 2018).