Writers Read Author Series 2015-16
Writers Read, sponsored by the language and literature department, is a special event featuring authors who read from and comment on their work. Dates, times, costs and locations are indicated below. (Map of … , , )
November 5, 2015 – Sheri Bailey – Common Grounds, 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments available. Donations accepted.
Sheri Bailey is playwright who received her education from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA. Bailey lives in Hampton Roads, where she works on many projects pertaining to writing, editing, theatre, and public speaking. Many of her works are focused on the subject of African American heritage in which she seeks to broaden awareness using “history that reaches across the oceans [and] back through the ages to connect the lessons of the past to today and tomorrow.” This work includes a festival company called “Juneteenth VA,” of which she has served as CEO for the past twenty years.
Her dramatic works include A Great and Dismal Swamp (1999) and Summer in Suffolk (2009). In Southern Girls (1996), her most often performed work, she and her co-author Dura Temple “bring a broader social context and a heightened urgency to their work, chronicling the boomer generation’s cycle through questioned injustice, fiery idealism and eventual frustration with the reality that change can never keep pace with expectation.”
Bailey has also taught at both University of Southern California and Old Dominion University. Working as an instructor in English and theatre programs for over 15 years, her goal has been to “build each student’s confidence about their particular story and to get it documented as words on a page.” From 2004-2008 she served as a school board member for Portsmouth City Schools. Through her work in theater and history, Sheri seeks healing for the wounds of racism in our society “without shame or blame.”
- 1980-1992 3 NAACP “Best Playwright” nominations
- 1993 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Artist Fellowship
- 1986 Commission from Deja Vu Coffeehouse for Murder & Mayhem at the Red River Bar
- 1999 Commission from Old Dominion University for A Great & Dismal Swamp
- 2009 VA Commission for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship
- 2011 “Southern Girls” voted “Best Play” for LSU production directed by Robert Alford
Other Writers Read Info
February 4, 2016 – Martha Woodroof – Common Grounds, 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments available. Donations accepted.
Martha Woodroof has been many things throughout her life: a co-owner of restaurants, an actress, a magazine editor, a local TV talk show host, and a writer. Her debut novel, Small Blessings, published in August of 2014, has received strong reviews from critics and other writers. Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Harding, declared, “In Small Blessings, Woodroof displays a lovely gift for inventive plot turns and glittering moments. The novel brims with life and complexity and characters who never stop surprising themselves, and each other. This is a delightful and splendidly intelligent comedy.”
Woodroof has produced a solid body of writing in a variety of genres and publications. She has written for National Public Radio (Marketplace and Weekend America) and the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her essays have also appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Woodroof was born in Greensboro North Carolina but went to boarding school and college in New England. There she attended Mount Holyoke. After this, she spent some time in Texas and eventually she moved to Virginia, where she attended University of Virginia. Now she and her husband make a home in the Shenandoah Valley where she is well known to listeners of the local public radio station WMRA, from which she recently retired. One of her innovations at WMRAwas a program called The Spark which was an exploration of creativity.
March 31, 2016 – Evie Yoder Miller – Common Grounds, 4:00 p.m. Light refreshments available. Donations accepted.
Evie Yoder Miller grew up in the small town of Kalona in southeastern Iowa in the 1940s and 1950s, immersed in a family unit of parents and three older siblings, a Mennonite church, and a rural community. In 1962 she graduated from Iowa Mennonite School, and four years later earned a college degree from Goshen College, with a major in English and a minor in physical education. After living in the Appalachia for nineteen years, she went back to graduate school to earn an M.A. (1994) and a Ph.D. (1998) from Ohio University.
Over the years, Yoder Miller has published stories, poems, and essays in small presses, but she says that the novel form is her writing preference. After working with historical material in Eyes at the Window, she has shifted to a contemporary setting in Everyday Mercies. Midwest Book Review gave high praises to Yoder Miller’s work: “A thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, Everyday Mercies showcases author Evie Yoder Miller’s impressive storytelling talents with its deftly crafted characters in a superbly woven novel that holds the reader’s complete attention from first page to last.”
Miller’s interests in education continue even though she is now retired from teaching. She has worked in high school, community college, and university settings, most recently teaching composition and creative writing/fiction writing classes for ten years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Sign language is available upon request.