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Visiting Writers Series spring lineup announced

Article Published: Feb. 17, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Visiting Writers Series spring lineup announced

George Ella Lyon

Poetry and creative writing takes center stage during the spring Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series at Appalachian State University.

Presentations begin in March and feature poet George Ella Lyon, poet and novelist Jay Parini, travel and art writer and essayist Pamela Petro, poet Peter Blair and novelist Jess Walter. All presentations are free and open to the public. Book sales and signings will follow each event.

George Ella Lyon

George Ella Lyon will visit campus March 3 for a 2 p.m. craft talk titled "Living in the River of Words" held in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room and a 7:30 p.m. reading in the student union's Blue Ridge Ballroom.

Lyon is the author of 40 books and editor or co-editor of five others. Her collection of poems titled "Mountain" won the Lamont Hall Award. The poetry collection "Catalpa" was chosen as the Appalachian Book of the Year, and "Where I'm From, Where Poems Come From," a primer for young poets, was a finalist for the ALA Printz Award and chosen by the New York Public Library as a Best Book for Teens.

"The Pirate of Kindergarten" has received the 2011 Schneider Family Book Award, presented to an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Her most recent work includes the poetry collections "Back" and "She Let Herself Go."

Jay Parini

Jay Parini will present the craft talk "The Use of Metaphor" and read from his work March 17. The craft talk begins at 2 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. also in Table Rock Room.

A poet and novelist, Parini teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. His novels include "The Apprentice Lover," "Benjamin's Crossing" and "The Last Station," a fictional account of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy during his last year of life that culminates in Tolstoy's fatal abandonment of the estate where he spent his entire life. It also was made into a major motion picture.

His fifth volume of poetry was "The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems." Parini has written biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost and William Faulkner, in addition to "The Art of Teaching" and "Why Poetry Matters."

Pamela Petro

Writer Pamela Petro presents the craft talk "The Who's and Where's: Writing People, Writing Place?" March 24 at 2 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room. She will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. also in Table Rock Room.

Petro has written articles and essays on travel and art, as well as reviews and profiles, for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The London Telegraph, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as The Atlantic, Granta, Ms Magazine, Bon Appetit, Islands, and other publications.

A winner of the Bedford Pace Prize for travel writing on Britain, she is also the author of three acclaimed works of travel literature: "Travels in an Old Tongue: Touring the World Speaking Welsh," "Sitting up with the Dead: A Storied Journey through the American South" and "The Slow Breath of Stone: A Romanesque Love Story."

Petro teaches creative writing at Smith College and is an interdisciplinary advisor for Lesley University's MFA program.

Peter Blair

Poet Peter Blair will present the Juanita Tobin Memorial Reading April 7. He will present the craft talk "From the 'Steel Mill' to the Poem: Processing Experience Through Revision
At 2 p.m. in Room 224 I.G. Greer. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room.

After graduating from college, Blair worked in a steel mill and a psychiatric ward. He was accepted into the Peace Corps and sent to Thailand where he taught English as a second language and later taught American literature at a university in Thailand.

His publications include three books of poetry: "Last Heat," winner of the Washington Prize, "The Divine Salt" and his most recent collection, "Farang." He also has published three chapbooks of poetry, all of which won national contests.

Blair teaches English at UNC Charlotte.

Jess Walter

Novelist Jess Walter wraps up the writer's series for the semester April 14. He will present the craft talk "The Shape of the Thing: Finding Structure in Voice" at 2 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room and read from his work beginning at 7:30 p.m., also in Table Rock Room.

Walter is the author of five novels, the most recent being "The Financial Lives of the Poets," released in September 2009.

Walter's big break was "Ruby Ridge," an account of the lengthy confrontation in Northern Idaho between white separatist Randy Weaver and federal agents that ended with the deaths of Weaver's wife and son. This book was originally published as "Every Knee Shall Bow" and was made into a 1996 CBS miniseries.

His other books include "The Zero," a moody, neo-noir set immediately after 9/11, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award; and "Citizen Vince," winner of the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel.

For more information about the spring season, call (828) 262-2337 or visit

Parking is free on campus after 5 p.m. The parking deck on College Street provides easiest access to the student union. For more parking information or a map, visit or call the Parking and Traffic Office at (828) 262-2878.

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