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Appalachian writer and heritage program to take place September 23-October 1

ISSUED: 15 September 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is hosting its annual Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project and 21st annual Appalachian Heritage Festival September 23-October 1. Events throughout the week will focus on the work of writer Charles Frazier and will be capped with performances and classes by local and regional musicians and dancers.

Frazier, the author of “Cold Mountain,” which was made into a 2003 movie, “Thirteen Moons,” and “Nightwoods,” will visit Shepherd, local community members, and high school students. He also helped select and will announce the winners of the annual West Virginia Fiction Writing Competition. In addition, Frazier will help with next year’s Anthology of Appalachian Writers, which will be based on his work. “Thirteen Moons” has been selected by the West Virginia Library Commission as the 2015-2016 One Book, One West Virginia common reading book for the state.

“Charles Frazier is a brilliant writer and it’s been so much fun for me as the scholar on this project to be able to work with his books,” said Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, coordinator for Shepherd’s Appalachian studies program. “He is a meticulous writer, he is a careful writer, and his first book, ‘Cold Mountain,’ I think is really quite a work of genius. It’s a superb book.”

Shurbutt said the Writer-in-Residence Project will offer a series of events this year designed to give participants the opportunity to explore the U.S. government’s removal of members of the Cherokee Indian tribe from North Carolina and Appalachia’s role in the Civil War, including how it impacted both black and white Appalachians.

“I think the real beginnings of a poverty stricken Appalachia come after the Civil War,” Shurbutt said. “So much fighting was done here and both sides were raiding the pantries of Appalachians and of course the people who were being raided to fight on one side or the other, oftentimes when they didn’t want to.”

The week will include a celebration of music, culture, literature, and dance according to Rachael Meads, director of student activities and leadership. The Appalachian Ensemble from Davis & Elkins College will visit local schools so children can experience old-time dance and music. A community square dance is planned, as are heritage-based workshops on songwriting and dance. Meads said there will also be a children’s Appalachian poetry contest and a Saturday evening showcase concert featuring the Appalachian Ensemble, singer-songwriter John Lilly, the Asbury United Methodist Church Ambassadors of Christ Gospel Choir, and Shepherdstown residents Than and Mary Anne Hitt singing old-time a cappella songs.

“I think it’s a great patchwork of the diversity of West Virginia and Appalachian culture,” Meads said.

Events for the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project and Heritage Festival include:

Friday, September 23

Monday, September 26

Tuesday, September 27

Wednesday, September 28

Thursday, September 29

Friday, September 30

Saturday, October 1

Listen to the interview HERE.

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