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5 Acclaimed Authors to Speak as Part of Spring Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series

Beth Macy will be the first Visiting Writer for the Spring Semester.

By Jessica Stump

This spring, five renowned writers — whose works engage with subjects relevant to Appalachia, the South and the world — will visit Appalachian State University’s campus to take part in the university’s spring 2019 Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.

The authors who will visit Appalachian as part of the series, in order of appearance:

  • Nonfiction author and journalist Beth Macy.
  • Novelist Caleb Johnson, who is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing in Appalachian’s Department of English.
  • Playwright Moisés Kaufman, author of Appalachian’s 2018 Common Reading Program selection — “The Laramie Project.”
  • Poet Nathanial Mackey, who will be delivering the series’ Juanita Tobin Annual Memorial Reading.
  • Novelist Abigail DeWitt.

“We are thrilled to bring such talented and timely authors to campus. All five have written works that are as relevant as they are timely, works that engage with Appalachia, the South and the world,” said Mark Powell, associate professor in Appalachian’s Department of English and director of the Visiting Writers Series.

Beth Macy will be discussing her book, “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America.”

Beth Macy (February 28): Macy’s Craft Talk will be from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in the Table Rock Room, 201B Plemmons Student Union. Her Reading will be at 7:30 p.m.

Journalist and author Beth Macy will discuss her New York Times-bestselling book, DOPESICK: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America. The book chronicles the opioid crisis, including the role of doctors, drug companies, and the government in the crisis. DOPESICK describes how the epidemic has impacted the lives of first responders and a diverse group of Americans living in the suburbs, small farming communities and cities. Macy will discuss her journey in gathering interviews with victims, family members, dealers and medical professionals from southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Macy is also the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling books TRUEVINE and FACTORY MAN. Based in Roanoke, Virginia, for three decades, her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. A former journalist for The Roanoke Times, she has appeared on CBS News, C-Span, PBS, NPR, and Fresh Air and in TIME MagazineThe New York Times, and other national news outlets.

Caleb Johnson will be discussing his book, “Treeborne.”

Caleb Johnson (March 21): Johnson’s Craft Talk will be from 12:30-1:45 p.m. in Gordon Gathering Hall, 124-C at Reich College of Education. His Reading will be at 7:30 p.m. in Three Top Room, 169 Plemmons Student Union.

Caleb Johnson is the author of the novel TREEBORNE— an honorable mention for the 2019 Southern Book Prize. Johnson grew up in Arley, Alabama, wandering the dense woods on his grandparents’ property near a manmade lake. He studied journalism at The University of Alabama and earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Wyoming, where he studied fiction with acclaimed authors Alyson Hagy, Brad Watson, and Joy Williams. His writing is forthcoming or can be found in Southern Living, The Paris Review Daily, The Bitter Southerner, and other publications, and he has been awarded a Jentel Writing Residency, and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in fiction to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Prior to joining the faculty at Appalachian State University, Johnson worked as a newspaper reporter, a janitor, a non-profit administrator, a middle-school teacher, and a whole-animal butcher, among other jobs. Currently, he lives on a former horse farm with his wife, Irina, and their dog, Hugo, while working on his next novel. 

Moisés Kaufman will be discussing his book, “The Laramie Project,” which was the 2018 common reading book selection.

Moisés Kaufman (April 8 and 9): Kaufman’s Lecture will begin at 7 p.m. at the Schaefer Center on April 8. His Reading will be from 9:30-11 a.m. on April 9 at 137 Plemmons Student Union, also known as the Grandfather Mountain Ballroom.

Moisés Kaufman — playwright, director and author of the 2018-19 common reading book selection, “The Laramie Project” — will give a public address at Appalachian State University. “The Laramie Project” is a play about the community of Laramie, Wyoming, in the aftermath of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, who was a gay student at the University of Wyoming. The murder, which was denounced as a hate crime, sparked a national debate “‘The Laramie Project’ represents a creative and illuminating response to an act of inhumane violence. The various perspectives about exclusion, violence, and community membership offered by ‘The Laramie Project’ are quite relevant for our incoming first-year students, whom we hope will engage in discussions about the issues that shape our community,” said Dr. Martha McCaughey, director of Appalachian’s Common Reading Program.

Nathaniel Mackey will be discussing several of his books of poetry, fiction and criticism.

Nathaniel Mackey (April 11): Mackey’s Craft Talk will be from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in Gordon Gathering Hall, 124-A at Reich College of Education. His Reading will be at 7:30 p.m. in Three Top Room, 169 Plemmons Student Union.

Nathaniel Mackey is the Reynolds Price Professor of Creative Writing at Duke University, where he works in the areas of modern and postmodern literature in the U.S. and the Caribbean, creative writing, poetry and poetics, and the intersection of literature and music. He is the author and editor of several books of poetry, fiction and criticism, most recently LATE ARCADE (New Directions, 2017), FROM A BROKEN BOTTLE TRACES OF PERFUME STILL EMANATE, VOLUME FIVE(Informa UK Limited, 2014), NOD HOUSE (New Directions, 2011), BASS CATHEDRAL (New Directions, 2008), and PARACRITICAL HINGE: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). STRICK: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology MOMENT’S NOTICE: JAZZ IN POETRY AND PROSE (Coffee House Press, 1993). A graduate of Princeton University and Stanford University, his awards include the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (2014), a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2010), the National Book Award in Poetry (2006), and a Whiting Writers’ Award (1993).

Abigail DeWitt will be discussing her three novels, “Lili,” “Dogs” and “News of Our loves Ones.”

Abigail DeWitt (April 18): DeWitt’s Craft Talk will be from 12:30-1:45 p.m. at the Attic Window Room, 137C in the Plemmons Student Union. Her Reading will be at 7:30 p.m. in Three Top Room, 169 Plemmons Student Union.

Abigail DeWitt is the author of three novels: LILI (W.W. Norton), DOGS (Lorimer Press), and NEWS OF OUR LOVED ONES(Harper Collins). Her short fiction has appeared in Five PointsWitness, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. She has been cited in BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, nominated for a Pushcart, and has received grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the McColl Center for the Arts, and the Michener Society.

“Beth Macy’s ‘Dopesick’ is the definitive work regarding the opioid epidemic, while Moisés Kaufman’s ‘The Laramie Project’ explores the aftermath of the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard.

“Abigail DeWitt’s ‘News of Our Loved Ones’ is a gorgeous novel about war and its fallout, and Caleb Johnson’s first novel, ‘Treeborne,’ is another meditation on memory, this time in the deep South.

“Nathaniel Mackey is a National Book Award-winning poet whose work has been described as ‘not simply writing about jazz, but writing as jazz.’”

Kaufman will read from and sign copies of his play “The Laramie Project,” which he co-authored with members of the Tectonic Theater Project. He will also give a public address at Appalachian’s Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.

Macy, Johnson, Mackey and DeWitt each will read from and discuss their work, as well as lead talks on the craft of writing. Craft talks provide aspiring writers suggestions for refining their techniques, developing sounder work habits and gaining a greater appreciation of the writing process.

Admission to all events is free and open to the public. Book sales and signings will follow the talks and the readings.

Parking is free on Appalachian’s campus after 5 p.m. Convenient parking for series attendees is located in the College Street Parking Deck next to Belk Library and Information Commons (from King Street, turn down College Street at the First Baptist Church). To reach the Plemmons Student Union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the Post Office and entering the union on the second floor.

Community members attending Macy’s talk “Reporting from the Margins” may contact Susan Weinberg, the series’ coordinator, at weinbergsc@appstate.edu or 828-262-2871 to reserve free parking in the College Street Parking Deck. For further parking information or a map, visit https://parking.appstate.edu.