National Poetry Month celebration announced

ELKINS — On Friday at 7 p.m., The Arts Center will begin a month-long celebration of National Poetry Month with a free opening reception.

This celebration will feature weekly readings by local published poets, as well as an accompanying art exhibit, “The Art of Poetry.”

Works in the exhibit were inspired by poems or lines from poems that are meaningful to the artists. The reception begins at 7 p.m., and will showcase poets Cheryl Denise Miller and Mark DeFoe doing readings of their work. In addition, each Friday will feature students from Randolph County schools reading selections of their works.

Miller is the author of two books of poetry, “What’s in the Blood” (2012) and “I Saw God Dancing” (2005), both published by Cascadia Publishing House, Telford, Pennsylvania. She has a spoken word poetry CD, “Leaving Eden” (2012) with music from Ben Regier. She and her husband, Mike Miller, are part of the intentional community of Shepherds Field, near Philippi. The community raises Jacob sheep and sells wool blankets and yarn.

Mark DeFoe teaches in the West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA Writing Program.

His work has appeared in chapbooks, anthologies and textbooks and in Paris Review, Poetry, Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review, North American Review and many others.

Emily Coleman of Davis & Elkins College, Brendan Wallace and Emma Post of Elkins High School, and Rachel Long from Elkins Middle School will also read at the reception.

At 7 p.m. on April 14, Colleen Anderson and Bill King will read from their bodies of work.

Anderson is a writer, songwriter, and graphic designer in Charleston. Her writing has appeared in Redbook, Arts & Letters, Antietam Review, and many other publications. Mountain Stage and The Folk Sampler have featured her songs, and she has produced two collections of original songs, “Fabulous Realities” and “Going Over Home.” In 2012, her children’s novel, “Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom,” won a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and her poetry chapbook, “Bound Stone,” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.

Her writing has earned two Individual Artist Fellowships from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and a residency fellowship from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, New Mexico.

King is a 1990 graduate of the M.A. program in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia and has taught literature and creative writing at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins for the past 20 years.

His poetry and nonfiction has appeared in Kestrel, Appalachian Heritage, Still: The Journal, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Naugatuck River Review and many other journals and anthologies. This winter, his poem “Postcard from the Tygart” was nominated by Still: The Journal for the 2016 Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Heidi Mach and Elizabeth Phares, both of Elkins High School, are also scheduled to read on the night of April 14.

On April 21 at 7 p.m., poets Sam McWhorter and Vince Tromboli will read selections of their work, as well as MacKinzie Smith, from Davis & Elkins College, and Emiliee Mearns, Micah Schwab, Hanna Davis, and Maggie Miller of Elkins High School.

The month-long celebration ends at 7 p.m. on April 28, with a reading by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, a reading of pieces by Doug Van Gundy, and a concert featuring Harshman and Van Gundy playing Appalachian music. For ticket information for this event, please contact The Arts Center office.

Harshman’s second full-length collection of poems, “BELIEVE WHAT YOU CAN,” was recently published by The Vandalia Press of West Virginia University and is the winner of this year’s Weatherford Award from the Appalachian Studies Association. His four chapbooks of poetry include ROSE OF SHARON, Mad River, MA. Periodical publications include The Georgia Review, Emerson Review, Salamander, 14 Hills, Poetry Salzburg Review,

The Chariton Review, and many others in the United States and abroad.

His poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, SPM Publications (London), and the University of Arizona.

His 13 children’s books include “The Storm,” a Smithsonian Notable Book and his newly released, “ONE BIG FAMILY” (Eerdmans). His 14 children’s title, “FALLINGWATER,” co-written with Anna Smucker, about Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic house, is forthcoming from Roaring Brook/Macmillan later this year. This past spring he was invited to read at the Greenwich Book Festival in London. His monthly show for West Virginia Public Radio, “The Poetry Break,” began airing in January.

Harshman holds degrees from Bethany College, Yale University Divinity School, and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as recent honorary doctorates from West Liberty Univeersity and Bethany College. He was born and raised in Randolph County, Indiana and has lived his adult life in northern West Virginia.

Van Gundy teaches in both the BA and MFA writing programs at WVWC where he also directs the undergraduate Honors Program.

His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in many journals, including The Oxford American, Ecotone, Appalachian Heritage and Poetry Salzburg Review. His first collection of poems, “A Life Above Water” is published by Red Hen Press. He is co-editor of the new anthology “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Contemporary Writing from West Virginia.” Van Gundy also plays fiddle, guitar, mandolin and harmonica in the old-time string band, “Born Old.”

Kurt Barkley, The Arts Center’s executive director, said he is excited that everyone is looking forward to celebrating this new event and exhibit.

“We want to recognize art in all its forms, and the spoken word is one of our oldest forms of artistic expression,” he said.

For additional information contact The Arts Center office at 304-637-2355, or visit our website: