Sponsored by the West Virginia Humanites Council, the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award was established to promote and encourage a literature rich in cultural significance and tradition.
Stretching from the hills of Georgia and Alabama to Quebec Province and under the sea to the highlands of Scotland, the series of mountains referred to in North America as the “Appalachian Chain” have produced cultural and language traditions that have remained distinct in a world rapidly moving toward homogeneity. The music and story traditions that tie the hills of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland to Appalachia have, in large part, remained intact, and the cultural heritage on this side of the Atlantic has grown to encompass indigenous Native and African American strains that have mingled with the Scotch/Irish. The mixture is both unique and unusually rich in oral tradition and a love of language and storytelling.
Shepherd University is proud to honor those literary artists who have found sustenance and material from this heritage. The Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award and the $5000 accompanying prize are presented annually to a writer whose work features or draws upon, in some respect, this cultural heritage. The recipient of the award fulfills a brief residency each fall, enriching the campus and community with lectures, workshops, and special programs as part of The Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project, a West Virginia Humanities Council sponsored program.Ê The Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence also selects winners of the West Virginia Young Writers Fiction Competition, interacting with these young writers before and during the residency to encourage the continuation of storytelling traditions in the region. The residency is associated with the Appalachian Heritage Festival, held each fall in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and developed by the Performing Arts Series at Shepherd.