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Affrilachian writer Crystal Wilkinson set to select winners of the W.Va. Fiction Competition

ISSUED: 21 February 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities is accepting submissions for the next West Virginia fiction Competition. All writers living in West Virginia or students going to school in the state, including high school students, are eligible to submit original, unpublished works of fiction by the May 1 deadline.

Kentucky writer Crystal Wilkinson will judge the finalists in this year’s competition. Wilkinson will be at Shepherd in September to award prizes of $500 for first place and $100 each for second place, third place, and judges’ choice awards for high school and middle school students. The competition is funded by the West Virginia Center for the Book at the West Virginia Library Commission and the Shepherd University Foundation. Winners’ and finalists’ stories will automatically be submitted for consideration to the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Crystal Wilkinson Volume XII.

Wilkinson is one of the original Affrilachian Poets, a grassroots group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region. She was winner of the 2008 Denny Plattner Award in Poetry from Appalachian Heritage magazine. Her fiction writing has received many awards, including the 2016 Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Appalachian Studies Association’s Weatherford Award. Her story collection Blackberries, Blackberries was the 2009 Chaffin Award winner. Her fiction work Water Street was a finalist for the United Kingdom’s Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Water Street is the 2018-2019 One Book One West Virginia state common reading selection. The book, selected to initiate a conversation about diversity in West Virginia and the region, examines the lives of neighbors and friends who live on Water Street in the small town of Stanford, Kentucky. Students across the state will be reading the book and using the resources provided by Shepherd’s Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence project, which is supported by the West Virginia Humanities Council.

The West Virginia Fiction Competition is part of the Appalachian Heritage Festival and Writers Project, created by the Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. Wilkinson will be working with the project throughout 2019. Her Appalachian Heritage residency is titled “Everybody’s Street and Being Black in Appalachia.” Stories with some connection to the theme of diversity are particularly welcome in the fiction competition.

Writers can submit double-spaced, original works of fiction that are a maximum of 5,000 words and have not received any other award, recognition, or special honor to Brenda Feltner, Shepherd University, P.O. Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV, 25443. Submissions will also be accepted electronically at

For more information, visit; or contact Karen Goff, West Virginia Library Commission, at; or Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, at

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