BOONE, N.C. — Four acclaimed authors will visit the Appalachian State University campus this fall, taking part in the “biggest, most diverse, and, by far, most ambitious Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series yet,” said series co-Director Mark Powell — an author and associate professor of creative writing and the director of App State’s creative writing program.
This fall’s guests include a poet, a novelist, a memoirist and an environmental writer, whose works explore gay and immigrant identities in Appalachia, race in the South, environmental and body image issues, and crime in small towns.
The visiting authors, in order of appearance:
- Poet Savannah Sipple.
- Memoirist Neema Avashia.
- Environmental writer Leigh Ann Henion ’05.
- Crime novelist Scott Blackburn.
Each author will read from and discuss their work and lead talks on the craft of writing. Through these talks, aspiring writers can learn how to refine techniques, develop sounder work habits and gain 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.
About the authors
Sipple is the author of “WWJD & Other Poems” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019), which was included on the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow Reading List — an annotated bibliography of LGBTQIA+ literature for general adult readers.
According to Sibling Rivalry Press, Sipple’s debut poetry collection “explores what it is to be a queer woman in Appalachia and is rooted in its culture and in her body.”
Silas House, author of “Southernmost” and “Clay’s Quilt,” said Sipple’s poetry is “full of truth and light and so much fierceness it threatens to take flight from our hands while we’re reading it, buoyed by the very power of language. This is powerful, important and brave writing of the highest order.”
Sipple “writes fearlessly about desire, bodies, shame, violence, forgiveness and self-love, and the poems are fierce, sassy and aching,” wrote Carter Sickels, author of “The Prettiest Star.”
A native of East Kentucky, Sipple’s writing has been published in Still, Salon, Go Magazine, Southern Cultures, Split This Rock and elsewhere. She is the recipient of grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.
As part of the fall Visiting Writers Series, Sipple will give a craft talk titled “Write Honestly: Push Yourself to Find Your Voice,” in which participants will examine ways to develop and strengthen their poetic voice.
A professor, an editor and a writing mentor, Sipple resides in Lexington, Kentucky, with her wife.
A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia was born and raised in southern West Virginia to parents who immigrated to the U.S. Her memoir, “Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place,” was published by West Virginia University Press in March. With a mix of lyric and narrative explorations, the book touches upon the topics of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture and more.
“‘Another Appalachia’ examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole,” according to the book’s publisher.
In her review of the memoir, Morgan Jerkins, author of “This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America and Caul Baby,” wrote, “Wide and expansive as the land the author calls home, this essay collection subverts the mainstream’s hyperfocus on white, male-dominated narratives from rural America and commands your attention from the first page to the last word.”
Avashia has been a middle school teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003. Her essays have appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, Kenyon Review Online and elsewhere.
Leigh Ann Henion
Henion, an App State alumna who lives in Boone, is the New York Times bestselling author of “Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World,” which is about how she chased eclipses, migrations and other natural phenomena around the world to reawaken her sense of wonder. “Phenomenal” was named an editor’s pick by O, The Oprah Magazine, Backpacker magazine and Barnes & Noble Review.
Her forthcoming book, “The Wilderness of Possibility: A Journey to Appreciate the Living Marvels of Darkness,” is “a (nonfiction narrative) exploration of the night found in our own backyards — from blooming moon gardens, to glowing foxfire, to synchronous fireflies — making a case for embracing darkness as a fundamental and profoundly beautiful part of the world we inhabit,” as described by Publishers Marketplace. The book’s publisher is Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill.
Henion’s writing has appeared in Smithsonian, Garden & Gun, Men’s Journal, Southern Living, and The Washington Post Magazine, among other publications. She has received a variety of accolades for her work, including multiple Lowell Thomas Awards, and her stories have been featured in several book series, including “The Best American Essays” and “The Best American Travel Writing.”
She will serve as the 2022–23 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at App State this fall. She holds a Master of Arts in Appalachian studies from App State.
Blackburn’s “It Dies With You” is a “searing literary debut (that) explores the dangerous world of secrets threatening to upend a rural Southern town,” according to Penguin Random House, the book’s distributor. “It Dies With You” was published in June by Crooked Lane Books.
Blackburn’s website offers a synopsis of the novel: “After his estranged father is murdered in an apparent robbery-gone-bad, prizefighter Hudson Miller unexpectedly inherits his father’s business, a salvage yard called Miller’s Pull-a-part. With his boxing career put on hold by a suspension, Hudson is desperate for money. He returns to his hometown of Flint Creek, North Carolina, to run the yard, only to discover that the family business is far more than junk cars and scrap metal; it harbors a deadly, dark secret that will thrust Hudson into the fight of his life.”
In his review of the novel, Michael Farris Smith, author of “Nick and Blackwood,” wrote, “Desperate people, in a hardworn landscape, with the smoke of emotional fires filling the Southern sky, that’s what you’ll get when you settle in with ‘It Dies With You.’”
Blackburn is an English instructor and a 2017 graduate of the Mountainview Master of Fine Arts program at Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in High Point with his wife and two children.
More on the series
The fall 2022 Visiting Writing Series is co-presented by App State’s Department of English, The Schaefer Center Presents performing arts series and Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review.
The university’s Belk Library and Information Commons has created a fall 2022 Visiting Writers Series guide that provides information about each author and shows which of the authors’ books are available through the library.
For additional information about the fall series, visit the Department of English website and/or contact series co-director Susan Weinberg, associate professor in the English department, at email@example.com.
App State’s 2022–23 season of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series is dedicated to the memory of the late Amy Greer ’92, who served as office manager and budget coordinator in the Department of English.
Fall 2022 schedule
Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series
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About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.