Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, a New Appalachia

March 18-20

2016

Shepherd University

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

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We invite participation in the 39th annual Appalachian Studies Conference organized by the Appalachian Studies Association. This year’s theme is “Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, a New Appalachia.” We especially invite presentations that focus on the changing face of the region; the diverse groups that constitute who we are; the educational and community institutions that either accommodate or react to the changes that challenge us and call for our best selves; and the grass-roots efforts to protect the very mountains that are the principal source of our commonality and identity.

Keynote Speaker: Frank X Walker

Frank X Walker will deliver the conference keynote address on Friday, March 18 in the Shepherd University Frank Center Theater. Walker, a native Kentuckian and graduate of the University of Kentucky, holds an MFA in writing from Spalding University and was named Poet Laureate of Kentucky in 2013—the youngest and first African American to hold the position. Walker cofounded Message Theater and the Affrilachian Poets and was named one of "the most creative teachers in the South" by the Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. His creation of the word “Affrilachia” is included in the Oxford American Dictionary. Walker has lectured, conducted workshops, and read poetry at over 400 national conferences and universities across the globe. Walker’s keynote address, entitled “Escape from Negro Mountain: Writing History, Righting Wrongs,” will utilize stories and literature to shed light on the diversity of Appalachia. Frank X Walker will participate in a number of conference events in addition to the keynote. Special Plenary VII will feature Walker and the Affrilachian Poets in “Affrilachian Voices: A Reading by Affrilachian Poets.” Poets participating in the event alongside Walker include Kelly Norman Ellis, Ricardo Nazario y Colon, Bianca Spriggs, and others. The plenary session is free and open to the public and will take place Saturday in Shepherd University’s Erma Ora Byrd Hall.