The Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books will return in 2019 in partnership with the Peoples University at the Ohio County Public Library and the City of Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission. The fall series will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Wheeling's founding with programs focused on the rich tradition of literature in the friendly city. All of the programs start at 7 p.m. in the library's auditorium.
At the first meeting On November 5, Wheeling born Keith Maillard, author of the acclaimed novels Clarinet Polka and Gloria, will discuss Fatherless, his new memoir from West Virginia University Press. Fatherless is a suspenseful work of historical reconstruction—a social history often reading like a detective story—that took Maillard from Vancouver to Montreal to his native Wheeling. Maillard will appear on live video feed via Skype.
The second meeting, on November 12, will feature West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, who will read his poem, "Wheeling at 250," commissioned for Wheeling’s celebration and then discuss the background behind his creation of this poem. He also plans to read selections from writers associated with the greater Wheeling area including James Wright and Rebecca Harding Davis, as well as a few other poems of his own rooted in Wheeling. To conclude, he will reflect upon the influence of Wheeling upon his life and work.
Meeting 3, on November 19, will feature Wheeling born playwright Sean O'Leary, whose play POUND was recently produced in New York with Christopher Lloyd in the lead. After recently being drawn into a debate about J. D. Vance’s book and soon-to-be movie Hillbilly Elegy, Sean will explore questions of where we are as a state and where we’re going as well as the joy, suffering, pride, and shame that goes with being a West Virginian from Wheeling.
On November 26 at the fourth meeting in the series, Wheeling born poet, writer, editor, scholar, and visual artist, George Fetherling will discuss lesser-known Wheeling authors such as William Hamburger and Edith Iglauer, as well as visitors such as Mark Twain and Carl Sandburg. The author of The Big Greek: The Rise and Fall of Bill Lias, Fetherling will also talk bout growing up during the reign of Lias in Wheeling.
December 3 will feature Wheeling's Women Writers. In addition to her own work, Cal U. professor Christina Fisanick will be talking about Wheeling's pioneering realist writer, Rebecca Harding Davis; Laura Jackson Roberts will discuss the future of women writers by focusing on environmental writing. Jeanne Finstein and Judi Hendrickson will discuss local history writing; Cheryl Ryan Harshman, an experienced storyteller and writer, will talk about writing for children and will include the importance of place in that writing; Phyllis Sigal, Weelunk’s managing editor, will talk about the non-profit, online magazine’s role in the community and share some war stories from 38 years in the newspaper industry; Glynis Board is assistant news director and education reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting in the northern panhandle, will discuss her work; and veteran newspaper writer Linda Comins will talk about female newspaper columnists in Wheeling in the modern era.
For the final meeting on December 10 (6:00 pm), author Cheryl Ryan Harshman and illustrator Bob Villamagna will discuss the new children's book written specifically for the Wheeling 250 celebration, "Once There Was a Mouse." Cheryl is the author of four books for children, including Sally Arnold, Red Are the Apples, and Christmas Morning. Bob is a retired Assistant Professor of Art and the Director of Nutting Gallery at West Liberty University. Working primarily in assemblages collages and mixed media art, he was named the 2016 West Virginia Artist of the Year.
All programs are free and open to the public. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests or other requirements. For more info about the Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books, People’s University—Wheeling 250: Wheeling in Literature please email the library at [email protected], call us at 304-232-0244, or visit the Reference Desk.