Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia to be held on September 6th - 9th of 2019

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Guest Blog Post by Lora Zill:
WRITERS CONFERENCE OF NORTHERN APPALACHIA to be held  on September 6th – 9th, 2019

The inaugural Writers’ Conference of Northern Appalachia (WCoNA) will be held in Wheeling, West Virginia on September 7th and 8th, 2019.

The Northern Appalachia comprises parts of eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, southern New York, and Pennsylvania. Its landscapes of hardwood forests, hills, valleys, fields, rivers, and creeks are rich in culture and folk traditions. It also has a rich history arising from the Native Americans through the Revolutionary War to our country’s founding, continuing to its place in a major Civil War battle, to farming and the steel, coal and timber industries.  
Pennsylvania, the state where I grew up and live now, encompasses the greatest portion of this rich area, with its celebrated 86,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks (second only to Alaska), and almost 17 million acres of forests that still give credence to its name: Penn’s Woods.  Penn’s Woods has spawned a rich culture of artisans and craftspeople, who honor the rich blue collar mentality of the region.

My own grandfather represented this heritage. Merle Greene was an inventor, artisan, and musician. He designed and built a windmill in his backyard and repaired clocks and guitars. He also played guitar and taught me to play Appalachian folk tunes, hymns, and country western music. We often enjoyed “pickin’ and grinnin’” sessions in his living room only to be interrupted by the loud cuckoo clock that I was allowed to wind. 
He would take me camping and fishing in the state parks in and around God’s Country, a local nickname for northcentral Pennsylvania, most notably Potter County. I am a nature lover, writer, glass artist, and musician. I’d like to think I got that from him honestly!
There has been a resurgence of the arts and crafts in Northern Appalachia but its stories and literary culture seem to be largely underrepresented and underappreciated, especially in the traditional literary world.
         The Writers’ Conference of Northern Appalachia (WCoNA) hopes to address this need. Its goal is to promote and celebrate writing—novels, poetry, history, drama, memoir, and more-- that represents northern Appalachia. 
     Sessions will include research presentations, readings, and discussion on such topics as publishing with a small press, poetry, photography, writing promotion, telling our stories, writing historical fiction, finding your voice, and mosaics of place. The main session speakers will be David Poyer (, a noted writer of Appalachian literature and Marc Harshmann (,  West Virginia’s seventh poet laureate.
       WCoNA’s goal is “to bring writers, researchers, and literary scholars together to recognize this distinct literature and establish a canon of writers and writing of northern Appalachia.” Hopefully the conference will inspire and train writers who love the northern Appalachians and its unique blend of ethnicities, histories, and cultures, and provide opportunities for networking and collaboration for all enthusiasts.
Check out the website www.writers
and look for us on Facebook.  Registration is now open and the deadline is fast approaching for our writing contest with cash prizes.  We hope to see you in Wheeling, West Virginia, September 7th and 8th. 
LORA ZILL lives and works in northwestern Pennsylvania. She teaches at Gannon University and in Allegheny College’s arts programs for gifted public school students. She is a teaching artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and speaks at writers’, educators’, and arts conferences. Lora is also a musician and stained glass artist, winning a commission for her glass work. Her nonfiction and poetry have been published widely. She edits and publishes the Christian poetry journal, Time Of Singing. Check out her website and the website for her poetry journal


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