Reading series promises music, culture, fun

The room was full at the 88 Restaurant Wednesday night as the 7th annual Beer & Bards Reading Series kicked off its first event of the year in Buckhannon.

Audience members from West Virginia Wesleyan College, Davis & Elkins College and the Buckhannon community enjoyed some beverages, good music, culture and company.

Wednesday’s reader was Bill King, a professor of creative writing and American literature at D&E, whose work has been seen in “Mississippi Quarterly,” “Southern Poetry Review” and “XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics.” King read several pieces exploring themes like nature, narrative and self-reflection.

“Nature is a recurring theme in my work,” King said, adding that it works as an anchor that allows him to write about other obsessions. “Through it I can write about mountaintop removal, and coal mining, and how those things affect people. Or I can take a piece like ‘The Pond,’ which is about an awakening, about realizing that you are a part of the world.”

King said that writing is more than just an interest. When King was recently recovering from cancer treatments, he and some friends, including fellow writer and Elkins resident Doug Van Gundy, would workshop his poems.

“In some ways it was a blessing in disguise,” King said. “Poetry, writing, that’s what gets you through it. You’ve got to keep working, writing through it. And it put me in a position where I could do something that people rarely get a chance to do and that is to truly express how much the people in my life mean to me.”

King said what he loves most about writing is the craft.

“I really like making things with my hands,” he said.

I like really doing the work. I am fascinated by the conception of an idea and then the crafting of it and then having something to show for it. That’s the writing process for me.”

The Beer & Bards Reading Series started in 2007 as a way of showcasing local readers or readers who have ties with the community separate from the classroom in a public venue.

Dr. Eric Waggoner, chair of the WVWC English Department, and Dr. Boyd Creasman, dean of students at WVWC, helped coordinate the readings. Originally they were held at the former Allburgher’s restaurant and recently moved to the 88 Restaurant and Lounge.

Creasman and Waggoner perform as a music duo, “The Frets,” and a featured reader shares his or her writing to the crowd.

“We wanted to feature people who had some connection to the town,” Waggoner said. “Previously, we had featured people in the (WVWC English) department. But this year we made a point to seek out people who had never read before.”

Waggoner said the series has grown in popularity and is reaching a larger audience within the community.

Beer & Bards events are held every third Tuesday of the month throughout the school year at the 88 Restaurant and Lounge Green Room. The next Beer & Bards event is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. For more information, check out the Facebook page “Beer and Bards Reading Series.”