Shepherd to host annual Appalachian writer and heritage program
Shepherd University is hosting its annual Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project and 21st annual Appalachian Heritage Festival Sept. 23-Oct. 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, Sept. 23
5 p.m.-“Stories from Affrilachia, with Ilene Evans: Behind Enemy Lines,: Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.
7 p.m.-Screening of the movie “Glory,” Reynolds Hall, followed by discussion and “African Americans in the Civil War,” with Ranger John Rudy. Co-sponsored with the Shepherdstown Film Society.
Monday, Sept. 26
7 p.m.-“The Trail of Tears: Removing the ‘Civilized’ Tribes of Appalachia” with Historian Stark Harbour, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.
Tuesday, Sept. 27
7 p.m.-“A Celebration of Appalachian Storytellers: The Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Nikki Giovanni Volume VIII,” Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Sponsored by the West Virginia Center for the Book.
8 p.m.-Anthology reception, Scarborough Library Reading Room. Sponsored by the West Virginia Center for the Book, the Shepherd University Foundation, the Shepherd Appalachian Studies Program and the Scarborough Library.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
9:30 a.m.-Charles Frazier visits with Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan County students, Martinsburg High School.
11 a.m.-Charles Frazier reading, Martinsburg Public Library.
7 p.m.-“The Writing Life, A Conversation with Charles Frazier,” Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium. Reception to follow. Sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation.
Thursday, Sept. 29
Noon-Lunch with Senior Moments Book Club.
3 p.m.-Writers master class with Charles Frazier, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.
8 p.m.-Scarborough Society lecture and awards ceremony, Erma Ora Byrd Hall. Sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation, the West Virginia Humanities Council and the West Virginia Center for the Book.
Friday, Sept. 30
5 p.m.-“Appalachia and the Civil War” with Dr. James Broomall, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.
7 p.m.–Screening of “Cold Mountain,” followed by discussion with Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.
8 p.m.-Community square dance, Town Run Brewing Company, 202 E. Washington Street. Sponsored by Performing Arts Series at Shepherd.
Saturday, Oct. 1
1 p.m.-Harmony singing workshop, Reynolds Hall.
2:30 p.m.–Clogging and flatfooting workshop, Reynolds Hall.
4 p.m.-Songwriting workshop with John Lilly, Reynolds Hall.
8 p.m.-21st Annual Appalachian Heritage Showcase Concert, Frank Center Theater. Tickets: $15, general admissions; $10 faculty, staff, and seniors; $5 for ages 18 and under; and free and Shepherd students with a valid Rambler ID. Tickets are available at the Shepherd University Bookstore. For more information, contact 304-876-5219.