Environment And Place In Contemporary Appalachia
Writers Robert Gipe (Weedeater), Valerie Nieman (To the Bones), and Carter Sickels (The Evening Hour) join journalist and writer Dana Coester to talk about the importance of the natural world and sense of place in writing about Appalachia.
Robert Gipe won the 2015 Weatherford Award for outstanding Appalachian novel for his first novel Trampoline. His second novel is Weedeater (2018). Both novels were published by Ohio University Press. From 1997 to 2018, Gipe directed the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program in Harlan. He is a producer of the Higher Ground community performance series; has directed the Southeast Kentucky Revitalization Project, which trains workers in fields related to creative placemaking; coordinated the Great Mountain Mural Mega Fest; co-produces the Hurricane Gap Community Theater Institute; and advises on It’s Good To Be Young in the Mountains, a youth-driven conference. Gipe formerly worked at Appalshop, an arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Gipe resides in Harlan County, Kentucky. He grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Valerie Nieman is the author of four novels: To the Bones, coming soon; Blood Clay, a novel of the New South, which was honored with the Eric Hoffer Prize in General Fiction; a novel about the Rust Belt of the 1970s, Survivors; and her first book, Neena Gathering, reissued in 2012 as a classic in the post-apocalyptic genre. Another novel is now in submission, and she is at work on a haibun narrative based on a month hiking solo in Scotland. Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she now teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University and at venues ranging from the John C. Campbell Folk School to WriterHouse.
Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury), a Finalist for the 2013 Oregon Book Award and the Lambda Literary Debut Fiction Award. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. His essays and fiction have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Guernica and BuzzFeed, and he is the editor of the anthology Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships, and Identity. He’s been awarded fellowships and scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the MacDowell Colony. Carter has taught in the Low-Residency MFA programs at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Eastern Oregon University. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers’ Studio Low-Res MFA program.
Dana Coester is creative director and executive editor for 100 Days in Appalachia. Coester also serves as creative director for the WVU Reed College of Media Innovation Center and leads the Center’s Knight-funded Innovators-in-Residence program and the Hacking the Gender Gap hackathon series. She is passionate about women in technology, privacy and social equity in emerging technology and new forms of documentary storytelling. Coester is currently producing a mixed reality documentary for HoloLens, as well as directing a documentary film on Muslim identity in Appalachia.