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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Davis & Elkins College Ninth Annual Writers’ Week

(Thanks to WVWriters Regional Rep Bill King for this information...)

Davis and Elkins College kicks off its ninth annual Writers’ Week this Spring with two exciting authors and a range of events that will interest campus and community members alike. The week’s activities begin on Thursday, March 15th, with a fiction reading by up-and-coming novelist Silas House, and end with a premier performance of labor poet Mark Nowak’s hard-hitting documentary poem, Sago, as well as with the premiere of “Bright Leaves,” a lyrical response to the Sago tragedy by local Appalachian folk group The Ginsangers. Both events are free and open to the public.

House, author of Clay’s Quilt (2001), A Parchment of Leaves (2003), and The Coal Tattoo (2004), has garnered several major honors, among them: the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Award of Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Chaffin Award for Literature, two Kentucky Literary Prizes for Novel of the Year (2003 and 2005), and the fiction prize from the National Society of Arts and Letters. House is a two-time finalist for both the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize and the SEBA Book of the Year. As contributing editor for No Depression magazine, House writes features on such artists as Nickel Creek, Kelly Willis, Darrel Scott, and Lucinda Williams, and also contributes to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Currently, House is collaborating with actress Ashley Judd on a screenplay and is at work on his fifth novel, set during the Civil War.

“We are truly lucky, and honored, to have a writer of House’s stature visit Elkins,” says Writers’ Week co-director and Associate Professor of English, Bill King. “House weaves his yarn with the best of the great Southern writers, yet takes Appalachia out of fairy-tale and into twenty-first century culture. The Holy Ghost competes with Wal-Mart, fiddle tunes with John Melencamp and Tom Petty.” King continues, “If you appreciate smart literature grounded in the lives of everyday people, don’t miss this opportunity.”

Writers’ Week concludes with readings and performances by labor poet Mark Nowak, whose books include Shut Up Shut Down, Revenants, and Visit Teepee Town. A New York Times “Editor’s Choice” winner, and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, Nowak writes hard-hitting poems that deal with labor history and class struggle. “This is working-class literature,” says Writers’ Week co-director and associate Professor of English Peter Okun. “Nowak makes poetry useful. His re-telling of the Sago mine disaster, for example, gives a voice to those who were directly affected by it.” Okun goes on to say that the public readings—and the Friday night performance in D&E’s Boiler House Theater — “will provide an opportunity for campus and community to witness the socially transforming power of art in action.”

House will read from his work, answer questions, and sign books March 15, from 6:00-7:00 in the Community Room of the Booth library on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Novak’s lecture and panel discussion, "Writing the Public Life," occurs March 22, from 7:00-8:00 in the Community Room. Sago and Bright Leaves follow on Friday March 23, at 8:00 in the Boilerhouse Theater, on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. All events are free and open to the public.

Davis & Elkins College Writers’ Week is funded by The West Virginia Humanities Council, The Dean of Faculty’s office, and the English program.