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Appalachian Literature is Highlight of App State’s Fall 2019 Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series

By Jessica Stump

BOONE, N.C. — The fall 2019 Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State University will feature four acclaimed authors of Appalachian literature who are “deeply committed to Appalachia,” said Mark Powell, director of the series and associate professor of creative writing at Appalachian.

The 2019–20 series is dedicated to the memory of alumna Hughlene Bostian Frank ’68, for whom the series is named, and her husband, William “Bill” Frank. The Franks passed away in a home fire in Greensboro this spring. The fall portion of the series is co-presented by the university’s Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review.

Hughlene Bostian Frank

“This is a remarkable year for the Visiting Writers Series,” Powell said. “We are thrilled to be bringing writers of such talent and relevance to campus, particularly in light of Hughlene’s passing. She was devoted to the series, and I think she’d be proud of our fall lineup.”

Two notable authors — Ron Rash and Silas House — will visit Appalachian’s campus during the opening week of the series, the week of Labor Day.

Rash, a novelist and poet, is the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture at Western North Carolina, and House, a novelist, nonfiction author and playwright, serves on the fiction faculty in Spalding University’s MFA in creative writing program and as the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair at Berea College.

In addition to appearing in the series, novelist Kayla Rae Whitaker, the 2019–20 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian, will teach a creative writing seminar and conduct community outreach.

Novelist Jacinda Townsend, the fourth author in the series, is the Appalachian Writer-in-Residence at Berea College.

As part of the series, each author will read from and discuss their work, as well as lead talks on the craft of writing. These talks provide aspiring writers with examples on how to refine their writing techniques, develop sounder work habits and gain a greater appreciation of the writing process.

Of the series, Dr. Sandra Ballard, editor of the Appalachian Journal and professor in the university’s Department of English, said, “I am particularly happy the fall lineup includes these four writers with connections to Appalachia because there’s such range and variety in their work. Their diverse interests and talents will challenge and delight everyone who has fixed ideas about writing that comes out of this region.”

Powell provided highlights of the visiting writers — “the most important working writers in the U.S.,” he said — and their creative works:

“Ron Rash is a novelist, short story writer and poet; he’s also the unofficial dean of Appalachian literature.

“Silas House is a brilliant writer and an engaged activist. His novel ‘Southernmost’ is one of the most important books in recent memory.

“Kayla Rae Whitaker, who is in residence at Appalachian this fall teaching a writing workshop, exploded on the Appalachian literary scene two years ago with her amazing novel ‘The Animators.’

“Jacinda Townsend’s ‘Saint Monkey’ is an incredible novel about two girls coming of age in rural Kentucky and Jazz Age New York.”

Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts will share remarks about Hughlene Bostian Frank at the beginning of the series’ first event, after which professor Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate (2012–14) and former director of the Visiting Writers Series, will give a tribute to the series’ late benefactor.

Frank was a 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award recipient and past member of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and the Appalachian State University Foundation, as well as a generous supporter of Appalachian. She also served as a member on the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council and the Beaver College of Health Sciences Advisory Council.

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

Parking on Appalachian’s campus is free 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. For further parking information or a map, visit parking.appstate.edu.