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Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence events planned September 1-25

ISSUED: 1 September 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s 2020 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Dorothy Allison, author of the award-winning novel “Bastard Out of Carolina,” will receive the Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award on Thursday, September 24, at 8 p.m. in a program streamed live on Shepherd’s YouTube Channel.

Allison has worked with the Writer-in-Residence committee to create a collection of resources and teaching tools associated with her writing. She has selected the winners of the West Virginia Fiction Competition, has critiqued the winner’s story, and will appear on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia during the residency.

Allison will complete her residency by participating in the creation of the 2021 volume of the “Anthology of Appalachian Writers,” which will center on ideas and themes in her writing exploring class and racial divides, as well as issues of child abuse and problems associated with stereotyping others and LGBTQ issues.

Allison’s book “Cavedweller” is this year’s One Book, One West Virginia state common read. The series of September programs about her work is funded by the West Virginia Humanities Council, State Library Commission, West Virginia Center for the Book, Shepherd University Foundation, and the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities.

Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a 15-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian college on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her son, Wolf Michael, Allison describes herself as a feminist, a working class storyteller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet, and a happily born-again Californian.

Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence events include:

September 1-30:

“Photographic Art Exhibit,” Scarborough Library, curator Mike Mendez, adjunct art professor. A virtual tour is available at https://www.shepherd.edu/ahwirweb/allison/docs/AHWIR.Photography%20Exhibit%202020%20PP.pdf.

Friday, September 18:

7:30 p.m., “Cavedweller” film discussion, Shepherdstown Film Society, a story of redemption and forgiveness. Discussion leader Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, director, Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities. The film is available at the Scarborough Library, Shepherdstown Public Library, and on Amazon Prime. Available on Zoom.

Monday, September 21:

7 p.m., “Diversity and Class in Appalachia and the Fiction of Dorothy Allison,” a humanities topic that furthers understanding of the under-classed and “othered,” with 2018 West Virginia Professor of the Year Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Reserved seating limited to 15, masks required, livestreamed on Shepherd’s YouTube channel. To reserve a seat, contact Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt at sshurbutt@shepherd.edu.

Tuesday, September 22:

7 p.m., “A Celebration of Appalachian Storytellers, ‘Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Crystal Wilkinson Volume XII’” with Crystal Wilkinson, Ron Davis, and Frank X Walker, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. The event will feature music in African American song traditions arranged by Dr. Georgiann Toole, Associate Professor Emeritus of Education, with Shepherd music majors. Available on Zoom.

Wednesday, September 23:

2-3:30 p.m., Dorothy Allison reading from “Cavedweller” and book club discussions with Martinsburg High School, Spring Mills High School, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries, Shepherdstown Public Library, Nourishing Literacy Giving Circle, and Senior Moments Book Club. Available on Zoom.

7 p.m., “The Writing Life, with Dorothy Allison,” Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Livestreamed on Shepherd’s YouTube channel.

Thursday, September 24:

3-4:30 p.m., “Writers Master Class” with Dorothy Allison, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, reserved seating limited to 15, masks required, available on Zoom. To reserve a seat, contact Shurbutt at sshurbutt@shepherd.edu.

8 p.m., Scarborough Society Lecture with Dorothy Allison and Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Awards Ceremony, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, reserved seating limited to 15, masks required, livestreamed on Shepherd’s YouTube channel. To reserve a seat, contact Shurbutt at sshurbutt@shepherd.edu.

Friday, September 25:

7 p.m., “Stories from the Mountain Highlands,” with Adam Booth, storyteller-in-residence, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, reserved seating for 15, masks required, livestreamed on Shepherd’s YouTube channel. To reserve a seat, contact Shurbutt at sshurbutt@shepherd.edu.

More information and links to attend events are available at  https://www.shepherd.edu/ahwirweb/allison/schedule, or contact  Shurbutt at sshurbut@shepherd.edu.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the annual Appalachian Heritage Festival music events and concert have been canceled. For events occurring throughout the semester, visit https://www.shepherd.edu/pass or contact Rachael Meads at rmeads@shepherd.edu.

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