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Winter Visiting Writers Series Slated to Begin at Wesleyan

Dec 14, 2017

West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program will host a Visiting Writers Series during the program’s upcoming winter 2018 Residency. The writers will be reading from their original work, and copies of their books will be available for sale. All readings will be held on Wesleyan’s campus, in Loar Auditorium of Loar Hall of Music and are free and open to the public.

DIANE GILLIAM & JACINDA TOWNSEND, December 30 at 7 p.m. 

Gillam is the author of four poetry collections—Dreadful Wind & Rain (Red Hen, 2017), Kettle Bottom, One of Everything, and Recipe for Blackberry Cake. She has won the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, a Pushcart Prize, and the Ohioana Library Association Poetry Book of the Year Award for Kettle Bottom. She is the most recent recipient of the Gift of Freedom from A Room of Her Own Foundation.

Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950s Eastern Kentucky and won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction written by a woman in 2014 and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for best historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Townsend received her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, then spent a year as a Fulbright fellow in Côte d’Ivoire. She teaches in the Creative Writing program at University of California, Davis and is a Truth Fellow at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco.


Cannady is a professor of English at Lock Haven University and creative writing faculty in the Wilkes University MA/​MFA low-residency Creative Writing Program. Her debut memoir, Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul, was listed as a finalist for Foreword’s 2015 Book of the Year Award and the Library of Virginia awards in the People’s Choice category.

Jones is the author of Bearwallow: A Mountain History of a Mountain Homeland, which was named the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year in nonfiction and awarded gold in memoir in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His essays appear in Oxford American, The Iowa ReviewBrevity, and elsewhere. He is an associate professor of English at Western Carolina University, and he co-edits In Place, a nonfiction book series from West Virginia University Press.

REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL, January 4 at 7 p.m.

Howell is the author of American Purgatory, winner of the 2016 Sexton Prize, and her debut collection, Render / An Apocalypse, was a finalist for Foreword’s 2014 Book of the Year. Howell is also the translator of Amal al-Jubouri’s verse memoir of the Iraq War, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation. Among Howell’s honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell edits poetry for the Oxford American and serves as James Still Writer-in-Residence at the Hindman Settlement School. 

Wesleyan’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing offers an apprenticeship model that enables students to earn a graduate degree without having to uproot their lives. Students are on campus for an intense residency period of nine or ten days each summer and winter, and complete their semester course work through correspondence with a mentor. Launched by Irene McKinney, who served as WV’s Poet Laureate until her death in February 2012, the program continues to honor her vision: the dynamic faculty is committed to fostering the creation of fine literature, particularly literature that explores place and identity. This program is the only one of its kind in the state.

For more information about the readings, or about Wesleyan’s creative writing program, please visit the MFA website at or contact MFA Director Jessie van Eerden at or 304-473-8329. 

This project is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.