A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series to kick off spring semester celebrating Appalachian identities



The A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series at Marshall University will kick off the spring semester by featuring the newly released anthology, Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South. Okey Napier, Julia Watts and Jeff Mann will be sharing stories of Appalachian identity, queerness and authentic community.

Readings will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Don Morris Room of Marshall’s Memorial Student Center. The anthology, published in May of 2017, highlights a variety of Appalachian experience, including queer experience and other regionally marginalized voices.

Napier teaches sociology at Marshall, as well as Ohio University and Mountwest Community and Technical College. He is working on his M.F.A. degree in creative arts (creative nonfiction and fiction) at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Napier’s essay Dave was included in the Unbroken Circle anthology that will be featured at this event. Napier is also author of the novels Make Me Pretty Sissy (pending publication) and The Beast of Gevaudan (pending publication), and is working on a memoir, Rainbow in the Mountains: Growing up Gay and Fabulous in Appalachia.

Watts has authored over a dozen novels, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning Finding H.F., the Lambda Literary and Golden Crown Literary Society Award finalist The Kind of Girl I Am and the Lambda Literary Award finalist and Golden Crown Literary Award-winning Secret City. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in English from the University of Louisville, and an M.F.A. in writing from Spalding University. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and teaches at South College and in Murray State University’s low-residency M.F.A. in writing program. Her latest two projects have been collaborative, the novel Rufus + Syd, co-written with Robin Lippincott, and the Unbroken Circle anthology, co-edited with Larry Smith.

Mann has published five books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash, A Romantic Mann and Rebels; two collections of essays, Edge and Binding the God; and a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men. He is also the author of  six novels, Fog, Purgatory, Cub, Salvation, Country and Insatiable; and he has authored three volumes of short fiction, A History of Barbed Wire, Desire and Devour, and Consent. He teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech.

After the reading, there will be a Q&A with the audience and book signing. Books will be available for sale, and light refreshments will be served.

All are welcome. The celebration is presented with support from the Marshall University Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts, Sexuality Studies, and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

For more information, contact Dr. Sarah Chavez, coordinator of the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series, at chavezs@marshall.edu or 304-696-3341.