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‘Anthology of Appalachian Writers and Photographers’ celebrated

By Staff | Oct 5, 2018

Shepherdstown Public Library Director Hali Taylor picks out some refreshments during the Anthology of Appalachian Writers reception at Scarborough Library on Sept. 25. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd University’s Robert C. Byrd Center hosted “A Celebration of Appalachian Storytellers,” featuring “The Anthology of Appalachian Writers and Photographers: Volume X: Wiley Cash” on Sept. 25.

Featuring the works of Appalachian writers, Appalachian photographers and 2017 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Wiley Cash, the release celebration’s program was followed by a reception, book signing and photography exhibit in the Scarborough Library Reading Room. The event was sponsored by West Virginia Center for the Book, Shepherd University Foundation and Shepherd University Department of Music.

“This is sort of like the coming out party for the anthology — it’s a standard program, in which we always focus on this year’s anthology,” said Shepherd University Professor of English Sylvia Shurbutt, the director of the Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities.

Shurbutt welcomed the Music Department’s contribution to the event, a solo from Scott Gendel’s “Barbara Allen” oratorio, which was sung by senior Simone Reynolds and accompanied on the keyboard by senior Nathan Strite.

“This celebrates the joy of music in the Appalachian heritage. The Scots-Irish ballads tell wonderful stories, and the storytelling is so rich in the Appalachian Mountains,” Shurbutt said. “Because words are music, we like to involve the Music Department whenever possible during this annual celebration.”

The complete oratorio was performed by the Masterworks Chorale during its spring 2018 concert, which was the oratorio’s East Coast premiere. According to Director of Choral Activities Rachel Carlson, the composer was a former classmate of hers, and wanted the piece to be performed in the land of its origin.

“In 2016, Scott contacted me and said, ‘I think it’s really important for this to be performed in the Appalachian Mountains,'” Carlson said about the piece. “The music that will be performed tonight is an excerpt from movement six, where Barbara Allen went to see Sweet William. Scott set this text in a romantic style, although in other parts of the oratorio he sets the text in a setting that sounds more like a folk tune.”

Readings from “The Anthology of Appalachian Writers: Wiley Cash Volume X” completed the program, with Melissa Howley, of Martinsburg, reading the short story The Caregiver; Ashley Wilkins, of Petersburg, reading the poems “No One Told Me” and “X.III.WVI”; Jessica Salfia, of Spring Mills, reading the short story More Than Miracles; and Jayne Moore Waldrop, of Lexington, Kentucky, reading the poems “Retracing My Steps,” “Expat Elegy” and “Drowned Town.”

Photography in the exhibit featured the works of Rachel Herbaugh, Jesse Hardt, Breanna Gladden, Frank Robbins, Shurbutt and Randi Ward.

The anthology is available for purchase at Four Seasons Books, the Shepherd University Bookstore, Tamarack and other outlets. For more information, contact Shurbutt at sshurbut@shepherd.edu.