Three West Virginia writers will read from their new books at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the Fairmont State University main campus. The writers include Michael W. Cox, Jessie Van Eerden, and John Van Kirk.
Michael W. Cox is the author of the recently released Against the Hidden River, a collection of short stories populated, according to Kevin C. Stewart, “by the likes of males prostitutes, burnt-out teachers, Indian-American college students and bi-racial males virgins,” characters with human struggles that strike the hearts of readers. Cox has published short fiction in Cimarron Review, Columbia, Other Voices, Salt Hill, and ACM. He is the winner of a Northern Lights Fiction Prize from Passages North, and a finalist for the Flannery O' Connor Award, the Spokane Prize, and the Ohio State University Press Prize. His nonfiction has appeared in River Teeth, New Letters, Kestrel, The New York Times Magazine, and Best American Essays. He teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
A West Virginia native, Jessie van Eerden’s novel Glorybound is set in the drought-ridden mining town of Cuzzert, West Virginia, where the ambitions and dreams of two sisters are challenged. Patricia Foster writes that, “This is an old-fashioned story, a beautifully rendered, character-driven novel in which the hidden past converges with the precarious present, revealing the inevitable strengths and tensions of family ties.” Van Eerden holds a BA in English from West Virginia University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, River Teeth, Image, Bellingham Review, Rock & Sling, and other publications. She has taught for over ten years in college classrooms and in adult literacy programs. She lives in West Virginia where she directs the low-residency MFA writing program of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
John Van Kirk joined the faculty of Marshall University in Huntington, WV in 1993, where he has balanced a dual career as a writer and teacher. His novel Song for Chance, published in 2013 by Red Hen Press, is about a time and a place, a tale of 1970s sex, drugs, and rock and roll, seen through the eyes of a musician who, along with his band, goes for the big crazy ride of rock star success. In a New York Times review, Van Kirk’s novel is said to reveal “a genuine passion for rock music, and cleverly includes liner notes, song titles, lyrics and a discography.... Van Kirk raises compelling if age-old questions about the tension between art and life, and about our responsibilities to those we love." Born and raised in New Jersey, Van Kirk attended Webster University and Washington University in St. Louis, served as a navy helicopter pilot, and received his MFA from the University of Maryland. His short stories have earned him the O. Henry Award and The Iowa Review Fiction Prize, and have been published in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies.
A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow the reading. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs at Fairmont State University and the Dept. of Language and Literature.