The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Library Commission will sponsor a free intensive creative writing skills conference on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The conference, Writers’ Toolbox: Weaving Past and Present, is free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged, particularly for the Friday sessions.
The first Friday evening workshop will focus on finding the right details from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Terry Lowry and Geoff Fuller will lead “Creative Nonfiction: Late Night Roads and Battlefields.” Lowry is noted for his ability to find and use details, large and small, to bring soldiers and West Virginia Civil War battles alive. Fuller is recreating 1970s Morgantown as he writes about the murder of two coeds.
Participants also can beef up their writer’s toolbox when they visit the State Archives and History Library at 7:45 p.m., and through quick-write exercises, learn to tap county and family history, historical photographs and videos, unpublished letters and a rich array of other documents. They also will get to know online and in-house resources that help to gather authentic details about any day, any time, any place, and apply them in quick-write exercises in the Library Commission Reference Library.
The Saturday sessions, entitled “Bringing the Past to Life,” begin at 9:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and overview of the day’s sessions. There will be three concurrent workshops from 10 - 11:30 a.m. “When History and Creative Writing Meet” features Diane Fisher, an award-winning poet. Fisher will pass along tips about the basics of historical research and lead participants in writing exercises based on their family’s history. She will provide topics, prompts and models for writing about the past. Lowry will lead “The Civil War: Recreating a Different Time and Place.” He will explain ways to find the details and entertaining stories that bring another time to life. The focus is on the Civil War, but the advice applies to whatever time you choose to visit.
Kate Long, an award-winning writer, will lead “Flashing Forward, Flashing Back.” She will teach participants how to weave the past and present and have them practice tricks of time travel, such as covering a century in two sentences or two minutes of time in two pages.
At 11:30 a.m., Long and Pete Kosky, an accomplished singer/songwriter, will lead “The Past in a Song.” They will demonstrate ways they have combined music and historical detail to create songs that bring another time and place alive.
Renowned author Denise Giardina and Fisher will collaborate at 1:45 p.m. with “A Visit with Two Time Travel Masters.” The authors will read from their work and explain how they brought past West Virginians to life. The session will end with a question and answer period. Rounding out the conference from 3:15 - 4:15 p.m., participants have the opportunity to go to another of the three concurrent morning workshops.
The faculty for the conference is deeply rooted in West Virginia. Fisher burst into the national poetry scene in 2006 when her second collection, Kettle Bottom, hit the national poetry best-seller list. The poems recall the West Virginia coal mine wars of 1920-1921 through the voices of immigrants, miners, and their families. Appalachian Heritage, part of the Appalachian Center of Berea College said of the collection, “It serves as a reminder that everything in life can be the stuff of poetry, that every life is extraordinary in some way and has something to teach us.”
Fuller is a popular Charleston writing workshop leader and also coaches individual writers who are finishing larger projects for publication or personal satisfaction. A former textbook editor and business writing teacher, his work in progress about the murder of two coeds has a working premise that the wrong man is in jail.
Giardina has recreated the past many times from the West Virginia mine wars to the Buffalo Creek Flood to pre-World War II Germany. A McDowell County native, she has written five novels set in the past. Giardina won the prestigious Boston Book Review fiction prize for Saints and Villains. In her last novel, Fallam’s Secret, her characters literally travel between the 17th and 21st centuries.
Kosky is a prolific songwriter and accomplished guitar player. His songs reach back into West Virginia’s history to create memorable songs about settlers and explorers, Indians and politicians. Kosky has taught songwriting workshops for Allegheny Echoes and is a popular festival performer.
Long is a Fayette County native and longtime Charleston Gazette writing coach. She has won national awards for her fiction, newspaper stories, radio production, and songwriting. Her songs have won honors from Merlefest, the International Bluegrass Music Association, and others.
Lowry is the author of six books recreating Civil War events including The Battle of Scary Creek: Military Operations in the Kanawha Valley, April-July 1861, September Blood: The Battle of Carnifex Ferry, 22nd Virginia Infantry, 26th (Edgar’s) Battalion Virginia Infantry, Last Sleep: the Battle of Droop Mountain - November 6, 1863 and co-authored with Stan Cohen Military Images of the Civil War in West Virginia. Currently he is working on a book about World War II and the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion. Lowry worked for Charleston Newspapers for 20 years, three years as historian/curator at the historic Craik-Patton House museum in Charleston and has been employed at the West Virginia State Archives Library since 2001.
For more information about the creative writing skills conference or to reserve a spot, call Bethany Cline, cultural program specialist for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 171.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
- 30 -