ELKINS — Award-winning West Virginia author Ann Pancake will be the featured presenter for the 23rd annual Davis & Elkins College Writers’ Series on Wednesday, November 9 and Thursday, November 10. The two sessions, free and open to the public, will offer participants opportunities to learn more about Pancake’s works, and fiction and nonfiction writing in general.
Pancake grew up in Romney and Summersville, West Virginia. Her works, centering on Appalachian families and their struggles, have garnered acclaim from literary reviewers and authors throughout the nation.
On Wednesday, November 9, Pancake will share tips and nonfiction writing techniques in a workshop at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room of Booth Library. Participants will then be given a writing prompt to apply the techniques and share with the group.
Pancake will present a creative nonfiction piece titled “Take, Eat” at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 10 at The Joni and Buck Smith Arts Forum, in the Myles Center for the Arts. The essay explores sense of place through family land, deer hunting and love. The reading will be followed by a book signing.
“Ann Pancake is a state treasure — clearly one of West Virginia’s best writers, and is at the top of her game,” said Professor of English and Chair of the Division of Humanities Dr. Bill King. “Ann writes movingly about the people, culture and landscape we know so well, and in a vernacular that is truly music to the ear. I’m hoping for a big turnout!”
Pancake’s “Strange As This Weather Has Been” (Counterpoint 2007) is narrated from the multiple perspectives of a southern West Virginia family devastated by mountaintop removal. Based on interviews and real events, the novel was one of Kirkus Review’s Top Ten Fiction Books of 2007, won the 2007 Weatherford Award, and was a finalist for the 2008 Orion Book Award. A collection of 11 novellas and short stories, “Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley,” introduces characters who experience brokenness and loss, and redemption and revelation, often through their relationships to places under siege. Her first book, “Given Ground” (The University Press of New England, 2001), is a collection of short stories set in Appalachia whose characters confront what many of them perceive as an invading outside culture. The work won the 2000 Bakeless Award.
Pancake also has received a Whiting Award, an NEA Grant, a Pushcart Prize and creative writing fellowships from Washington, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Her fiction and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies including “The Georgia Review,” “Poets and Writers,” “Narrative” and “New Stories from the South.” She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Washington. Pancake has taught in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and served as writer-in-residence at West Virginia University. She currently works in WVU’s English Department as a service associate professor where she teaches and does community outreach.
The Davis & Elkins College Writers’ Series has a long tradition of bringing award-winning writers to campus including Marc Harshman, Maggie Anderson and Irene McKinney, among others. This is the second time Pancake has participated in the sessions.