WVWC MFA Summer Residency and Visiting Writers

Summer can be a busy and exciting time for the students and faculty of the West Virginia Wesleyan MFA program, and this summer is no exception. Every other year, students have the option to participate in the Ireland residency instead of or in addition to the summer residency held on the WVWC Buckhannon campus. The 2018 Ireland residency just wrapped up and was led by Devon McNamara (Poetry Faculty). Students who participated in the sightseeing, tours, shows, and workshops were Billy Davis (Fiction ’19), Brigid Clare Hokana (Nonfiction ’20), Amber Milstead (Fiction ’19), Phill Provance (Poetry ’19), Semein Washington (Poetry ’19), Chad MacDonald (Nonfiction ’20), and Andrew Raines (Fiction ’19).

Billy (Fiction ’19), who found a four-leaf clover on Inisheer, the smallest of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, was impressed by the architectural details and the way history holds importance in the Irish way of life. He tells us: “There’s respect for their history. Monuments to and statues of revolutionaries are prominently displayed on key streets, and sleek modern buildings are perfectly at ease beside grey granite churches, built centuries ago.”

Brigid (Nonfiction ’20), who had less luck on Inisheer and twisted her ankle, enjoyed her first trip to Ireland and hopes it isn’t her last. She shares many of the photos in the slide show below and apparently has a fondness for photographing her meals, according to Amber (Fiction ’19), who also shares many photos and hopped across the pond before the rest of the group to get in some extra sightseeing. The students all have more to share at a later date, but as of now, they are all recuperating from a long flight preceded by a great time. Enjoy their photos from the trip in the slideshow below. To read memories from the 2016 Ireland residency, visit our post from earlier this year.

Kudos to Andrew Raines (Fiction ’19), who shared some good news during the Ireland trip: he got an Honorable Mention for his poem “Satiety” in the WV Writers 2018 Annual Writing Contest.

Those attending the summer residency on the Buckhannon campus, which kicks off in just a few weeks, can expect some fantastic visiting writers. The readings held during the residency are free and open to the public, and they are presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The schedule for the public readings is listed below, along with a bio for each of the writers:

MARY IMO-STIKE & LARA LILLIBRIDGE, July 7 at 7 p.m.

Mary Imo-Stike (Poetry '15) worked nontraditional jobs as a rail worker, construction plumber, boiler operator and gas company Compliance Officer. When retired from work-life, she obtained an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2015 and was the poetry co-editor of HeartWood Literary Magazine for two years. Her debut chapbook, In and Out of the Horse Latitudes, is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary lives in Scott Depot, West Virginia.

Lara Lillibridge (Nonfiction '16) sings off-beat and dances off-key. Her childhood memoir, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home, is out with Skyhorse Publishing. Lara is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. In 2016 she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest, and The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction. She and Andrea Fekete are co-editors of the anthology Feminine Rising slated for release in 2019 with Cynren Press.

MESHA MAREN & MATT RANDAL O’WAIN, July 8 at 7 p.m.

Mesha Maren's debut novel Sugar Run is forthcoming from Algonquin Books in January 2019. She is the 2018-2019 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and her short stories and essays appear in Tin House, Oxford American, Crazyhorse, Hobart, Southern Cultures, and Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation, and she currently serves as a National Endowment of the Arts Writing Fellow at the Beckley Federal Correctional Institution.

Matt Randal O'Wain holds an MFA from Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. Currently, he teaches creative writing at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. O’Wain is the author of "Superman Dam[n] Fool: family, loss, and coming of age in the working class south" (American Lives Series, Bison Books, 2019) and Hallelujah Station and other stories (Autumn House Press, 2020). His essays and short stories have appeared in Oxford American, Guernica, Booth, Hotel Amerika, Zone 3, among others.

JONATHAN CORCORAN, July 9 at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Corcoran is the author of the story collection, The Rope Swing, which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and long-listed for The Story Prize. He received a BA in Literary Arts from Brown University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Rutgers University-Newark, where he teaches writing. He was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

REMICA BINGHAM-RISHER, July 11 at 7 p.m.

Remica Bingham-Risher, author of Starlight & Error, winner of the Diode Editions Book Award, What We Ask of Flesh, shortlisted for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Conversion, winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, is a Cave Canem fellow and Affrilachian Poet. She is the Director of Quality Enhancement Plan Initiatives at Old Dominion University. She resides in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband and children.

NATHAN POOLE, July 12 at 7 p.m.

Nathan Poole is the author of two books of fiction: Father Brother Keeper, a collection of stories selected by Edith Pearlman for the 2013 Mary McCarthy Prize and long listed for the Frank O’Connor Award, and Pathkiller as the Holy Ghost, selected by Benjamin Percy as the winner of the 2014 Quarterly West Novella Contest. He is a recipient of the Narrative Prize, a Milton Fellowship at Seattle Pacific University, and Joan Beebe Fellowship at Warren Wilson College. His work has appeared in various journals, including The Kenyon Review, Ecotone, Narrative Magazine, Image, Quarterly West, and The Chattahoochee Review.