Writers Read Author Series 2016-17
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 , , , ).
February 2, 2017 – Fiction Writer and Poet Sarah Kennedy, 6:30 p.m., Common Grounds, freewill donation
Sarah Kennedy has published seven books of poetry and more recently a series of novels. Her poetry collections include Double Exposure, which won the Cleveland State University Press Open Competition in 2003. Her volume Flow Blue won the Elixir Press Prize in Poetry. Her most recent collection, The Gold Thread (2013) is praised by the US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as “fierce, elegant poems” that comprise an “extended meditation on the quest for meaning…in a troubled world.”
Her love for historical fiction has spawned a series of novels called The Cross and Crown. This series of novels set in Tudor English traces the life of a former nun who has been displaced by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The third and most recent novel in the series is The King’s Sisters (Sept. 2015).
Originally from Indianapolis, Kennedy now lives in Staunton, Virginia, and works as a professor of English at Mary Baldwin University where she leads workshops in poetry and fiction and chairs the English department. She holds an MFA from Vermont College in poetry writing and a PhD from Purdue University in Renaissance poetry. Kennedy has received grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to support her creative work. To learn more about Sarah’s books, click here.
February 16, 2017 – Novelist Ken Yoder Reed, 6:30 p.m., Common Grounds, freewill donation
Ken Yoder Reed comes from a Mennonite background in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania where he attended Mennonite schools during his childhood. After his graduation from Lancaster Mennonite High School, Reed attended Eastern Mennonite College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He also attended the Japanese Language Institute in Sapporo, Japan.
Ken Yoder Reed’s career has taken him many places. After his schooling in Japan, he completed his military alternative service as an English teacher there. Some of his other early career moves include free-lancing for Mennonite publications in Lancaster. His works during this period include plays, short stories, and his first novel entitled Mennonite Soldier. Then, in 1991, Reed made the move to San Francisco where he founded an international business of high-tech firms where they made connections between China and Korea. Currently, Reed resides in San Jose, California. He now has a blended family that includes his wife, Patricia, and six adult children.
Reed’s publications also include He Flew Too High, and most recently, Both My Sons.
March 14, 2017 – Folklorist and Non-Fiction Writer Lisa Yarger, 7:00 p.m., Martin Chapel, freewill donation
Lisa Yarger, author of Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship, grew up in Raleigh, studied English at Wake Forest University and earned a master’s degree in folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She met Lovie Shelton in 1996 while working on an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. Since 2005 she has lived in Munich, Germany, where she and her family own and operate the Munich Readery, an English-language secondhand bookshop. (Photo by Sabine Kueckelmann)
From 1950 until 2001, Lovie Beard Shelton practiced midwifery in eastern North Carolina homes, delivering some 4,000 babies to black, white, Mennonite, and hippie women; to those too poor to afford a hospital birth; and to a few rich enough to have any kind of delivery they pleased. Her life, which was about giving life, was conspicuously marked by loss, including the untimely death of her husband and the murder of her son.
Lovie is a provocative chronicle of Shelton’s life and work, which spanned enormous changes in midwifery and in the ways women give birth. In this artful exploration of documentary fieldwork, Lisa Yarger confronts the choices involved in producing an authentic portrait of a woman who is at once loner and self-styled folk hero. Fully embracing the difficulties of telling a true story, Yarger is able to get at the story of telling the story. As Lovie describes her calling, we meet a woman who sees herself working in partnership with God and who must wrestle with the question of what happens when a woman who has devoted her life to service, to doing God’s work, ages out of usefulness. When I’m no longer a midwife, who am I? Facing retirement and a host of health issues, Lovie attempts to fit together the jagged pieces of her life as she prepares for one final home birth.
March 23, 2017 – Non-Fiction Writer Katie Fallon, 6:30 p.m., Common Grounds, freewill donation
Katie Fallon, a lifelong resident of Appalachia, is a nature-loving author who reflects this love in her writing. Her books of nonfiction include Cerulean Blue: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (2011) and Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird, scheduled for publication in March 2017. Much of Fallon’s writing is grounded in naturalism and conservation efforts, especially concerning raptors and other birds. She is also one of the founders for the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, Inc., a nonprofit organization that strives to conserve wild birds.
In addition to her nonfiction nature books, Fallon’s essays have been featured in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Ecotone, Bark Magazine, Appalachian Heritage, Now & Then, Isotope, Fourth River, the Minnesota Review, and The Tusculum Review. She has received recognition from Best American Science & Nature Writing 2014 and was a finalist in Terrain’s 2011 essay contest for her essay entitled “Hill of the Sacred Eagles.”
Though Fallon grew up in Pennsylvania, she now resides in Cheat, West Virginia, where she works at West Virginia University.