Harshman To Share Expertise at Writers’ Workshop

West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman of Wheeling will be an instructor for the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop this month.

The workshop, in its 22nd year, will be held on West Virginia University’s downtown campus in Morgantown July 19-22.

Harshman and author Leslie Pietrzyk will give craft talks and readings; they also will facilitate discussions of participants’ work.

Harshman, of course, has written several children’s books and collections of poetry, including “Believe What You Can.” Pietrzyk’s short-story collection, “This Angel on My Chest,” won the prestigious 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Mark Brazaitis, a professor in WVU’s Department of English, will serve as the workshop’s director. He is the author of seven books.

Other faculty members for the program include Natalie Sypolt, whose debut collection of short stories, “The Sound of Holding Your Breath,” will be published in November by WVU Press, and Jordan Carter, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at WVU.


Before heading off to the workshop, Harshman is slated to serve as host for a Wheeling Poetry Series presentation at the Ohio County Public Library at noon on July 17.

The ninth poetry reading in its series will feature award-winning poet Ron Houchin, who lives in the Huntington area. His poetry has been published in dozens of journals worldwide.

Houchin’s seventh full-length collection of poems, “The Man Who Saws Us in Half,” was released in 2013 as part of the Southern Messenger Series by LSU Press. He was awarded the Weatherford Prize in poetry for that volume.

A retired public school teacher, Houchin travels frequently to Ireland for readings and collaborations with Irish poets.


For the past few months, pooches have been panting and wagging their tails in anticipation as city crews and contractors have worked to correct problems with the surface of the Fitzsimmons Family Dog Park: A PetSafe Park in East Wheeling.

When the dog park is fully up and running again, city officials may want to consider a refreshing addition to the new facility. Recently, I saw a video from another city where a large water tank, resembling those used for dock diving events, had been placed in a public park so that dogs could take a swim on hot summer days.


It must be amazing to see one’s likeness in the form of a doll, but that’s just what has happened to West Virginia first lady Cathy Justice.

Justice and representatives of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History unveiled the newest commemorative doll in the First Ladies of West Virginia Collection in a recent ceremony at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The Cathy Justice doll was hand-sculpted by artist Ping Lau of Washington, D.C. The figure is clad in a replica of Justice’s inaugural ball gown.

The West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs commissioned the first ladies doll collection in 1976, the same year the Culture Center opened. State officials said Edna Henderson, a Charleston ceramic artist, created 29 first lady dolls, from Laurane Boreman to Sharon Rockefeller, before she died in 1999.

This permanent exhibit is displayed in the balcony gallery of the Culture Center.

Joanne Gelin, an elementary art teacher and doll maker, created a Gayle Manchin doll in 2006.

The doll collection, however, remained incomplete for several years until Lau took up the cause. Since 2013, she has designed the dolls of former first ladies Dee Caperton, Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, Sandy Wise and Rachael Worby. Officials said she works meticulously with drawings and photographs and pays close attention to detail as she completes the dolls and gowns.

Lau, who grew up in Singapore, is well known for creating one-of-a-kind dolls.

Her dolls and paintings have been displayed at local and national art galleries and art shows. Her work also has been featured on the Home Shopping Network.

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