‘Glass Castle’ Author Plans Area Lecture

Author Jeannette Walls, whose best-selling memoir, “The Glass Castle,” painted a grim portrait of her impoverished life in southern West Virginia — will deliver the spring Hughes Lecture at West Liberty University at 7 p.m. March 22.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be presented in College Hall on the main campus. A book-signing event and reception will take place in the university’s Boyle Conference Center after the program.

“The Glass Castle” recounts Walls’ life growing up in extreme poverty and her emergence to become a journalist in New York and later a best-selling author. In the vivid memoir, Walls describes her nomadic childhood.

A significant portion of the book is devoted to the years that the family spent living in Welch, W.Va., which was her father’s hometown. It was in Welch where a teacher nurtured Walls’ interest in writing, an artistic pursuit that she followed upon moving to New York at age 17.

A film version of “The Glass Castle” was released last August. Actress Brie Larson portrayed Walls in the movie. The major motion picture also starred Woody Harrelson in a memorable role as Walls’ father and Naomi Watts who played her mother.

Walls drew upon stories of older family members for her subsequent bestsellers, “Half Broke Horses” and “The Silver Star.” The editors of the New York Times Book Review named “Half Broke Horses” as one of the 10 best books of 2009.

The author has spoken previously in the Charleston and Huntington areas, but this will be her first speaking engagement in the Northern Panhandle. She now resides in rural Virginia, with her husband, writer John Taylor.

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Continuing on a literary note, poet Jacob Strautmann, a former Marshall County resident, has received an unrestricted grant from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency in Massachusetts, in a program designed to promote the development of artists’ talents.

The awards given to Strautmann and several other artists were announced on Jan. 25.

Officials stated, “Mass Cultural Council’s Artist Fellowships recognize exceptional work by Massachusetts artists across a range of disciplines. These highly competitive awards provide artists crucial validation among their peers and the public. They catalyze artistic advancement and pave the way for creative innovation of enduring cultural value.”

The committee reviewed 15 poems from Strautmann’s forthcoming book, “The Land of the Dead is Open for Business.” The volume is slated for publication by Four Way Books in the spring of 2020. Strautmann said the poems “wrangle with the legacy of the extractive industry” in his native West Virginia.

Area literary buffs may recall that Strautmann and his wife, Valerie Duff-Strautmann, participated in a poetry reading at The Blue Church in Wheeling a couple of years ago.

Strautmann attended Cameron High School, where he was a member of the class of 1995, and graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University in 1999. He studied poetry for a master’s degree at Boston University, where he teaches creative writing and serves as managing director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. He also is a contributing editor for Salamander Magazine.

His poems have appeared in Forklift, Ohio, Unsplendid, The Harlequin, Salamander Magazine, the Boston Globe, Agni Online, the Appalachian Journal, Solstice, Jam Tarts, Quiddity (where he won the editor’s prize in poetry) and Appalachian Heritage. Some of his poems also are set to appear in the Southern Humanities Review.

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Friends of the late Kathleen “Kate” Quinn gathered in Wheeling Wednesday to hold an “Irish wake” in her honor and to raise a toast to her memory.

Quinn, a Wheeling native, died Jan. 22 after a long illness. She was a dedicated member of Friends of Wheeling, serving as vice president of the organization, researching and writing many articles on topics of interest and portraying historical figures from the community for various events.

Over the years since returning to her hometown, Quinn gave several presentations on Wheeling history for Lunch With Books programs at the Ohio County Public Library. She organized “Woodsdale Kids” reunions and started a blog about her childhood neighborhood. She also served on the Wheeling Hall of Fame board for a number of years and on the local committee that organized events in Wheeling to celebrate the state sesquicentennial in 2013.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelli gencer.net

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