For this session, Doug Van Gundy and Marc Harshman will examine the charge of the poet to bear witness to and document the various ways in which the landscape of our nation is under threat. Reading from their own work and that of other Appalachian writers, they’ll share their experience of being poets from a region so long under assault from exploitative industries. They will then challenge participants with a pair of writing prompts designed to elicit close observation of place and generate empathy for—and solidarity with—the land and its people.
Marc Harshman’s fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-written with Anna Smucker, has just been published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan. His poetry collection, BELIEVE WHAT YOU CAN, was published in 2016 by West Virginia University Press and won the Weatherford Award from the Appalachian Studies Association. Periodical publications include The Georgia Review, Salamander, Shenandoah, Chariton Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. An invited reader at the 2016 Greenwich Book Festival in London, he recently read with Doug Van Gundy at the Red House Arts Centre, in Wales. He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.
Doug Van Gundy teaches in both the BA and MFA writing programs at West Virginia Wesleyan College. His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in many journals, including The Oxford American, Ecotone, Appalachian Heritage, and Poetry SalzburgReview. He is co-editor of the anthology Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Contemporary Writing from West Virginia, and is currently working on a follow-up to his debut poetry collection, A Life Above Water.