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Bookin’ it: Twelfth Anthology of Appalachian Writers, endowment fund celebrated in virtual reading

By Staff | Jul 17, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Sunday evening, Four Seasons Books hosted a virtual reading in honor of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Crystal Wilkinson Volume XII. The Facebook Live event featured Jessica Salfia, Aneyla Dozier, Ellen Wade and Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities Director Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt reading passages from the anthology, which is currently available at Four Seasons Books.

“I really want to thank everyone who was involved with this anthology. People have told me this is the best anthology we have done,” Shurbutt, who is the anthology’s managing editor, said. “In part, that was due to Crystal Wilkinson, because she helped draw some great authors to us.”

Wilkinson, who is the 2019 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence and West Virginia Common Read Author, was one of the founding members of the Affrilachian Poets. Because of this, many other well-respected Appalachian and Affrilachian writers wanted to contribute to the anthology, including Affrilachian poet Frank X Walker and West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.

“This is our most diverse volume ever. The book celebrates the literary and photographic art of Affrilachians and Appalachians in the state and region, and centers around the fiction of West Virginia State Common Read author Crystal Wilkinson,” Shurbutt said.

During the event, Shurbutt read Walker’s poem in the anthology, followed by each of the other readers sharing their own works. Shurbutt also took a moment to announce the establishment of an endowment, which will help secure the future of the anthology and Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities.

“We have had a really generous donor who has given us the money to start the Appalachian Studies and Communities Endowment Fund,” Shurbutt said. “This is something that is really important, because you don’t want the program to hinge on any one person. I want to have the endowment set in a particular way so that the people that come after me will not have to scrounge around the way I do, trying to get money hear and there and yonder.

“We do have this endowment coming up, and it is going to be for two major things,” Shurbutt said, mentioning the news will be officially announced in September. “The first will be to support the work of a Shepherd University storyteller in residence, Adam Booth. Storytelling is everything — if we are not allowed to tell our story, somebody else will tell our story. We want to be the ones to shape our destiny and tell our stories and so on, so storytelling is the center of everything that we do in the Center of Appalachian Studies and Communities. The other main feature of the endowment will be to support the work of faculty and students . . . and also to support our programs. We have a really great program series.”