WV Writers In Spotlight This Month

West Virginians’ literary accomplishments are booming this summer.

Author and poet Anna Egan Smucker, who grew up in Weirton and now resides in Bridgeport, West Virginia, has a new work that is slated to be published this week. Her poetry chapbook, titled “Rowing Home,” is set to be released Friday by Finishing Line Press in Georgetown, Kentucky.

In a recent review, West Virginia author Meredith Sue Willis described Smucker’s poems in this volume as “condensed, supple and many-layered.”

Willis commented, “Without ever losing her focus on concrete observations of the natural world and human lives, Anna Egan Smucker fills ‘Rowing Home’ with glints of history, current events, rivers, dogs, trees and a baker whose pizzelle cookies become a sacrament.”

Smucker’s eight award-winning books include “No Star Nights,” set in her hometown of Weirton at the height of its steelmaking era. She and West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman of Wheeling co-wrote “Fallingwater,” a children’s book that recounts the process of designing and constructing famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece in nearby Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.

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West Virginia-based author Rajia Hassib’s second novel, “A Pure Heart,” is set to go on sale Tuesday from Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

I am reading an advance copy of “A Pure Heart,” which I find to be a compelling work of fiction. As always, Hassib’s writing is exquisite and her storytelling is nuanced and thought-provoking.

The novel focuses on the characters of Rose, an expert in Egyptian archaeology and culture, who marries Mark, a New York Times writer from Charleston, West Virginia, and how their lives intersect with Rose’s sister, Gameela, and people around her. The narrative goes back and forth in time and location from New York City and Charleston to Cairo and other places in Egypt.

The author is a native of Egypt and lives in Huntington with her husband and children. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Marshall University.

Hassib’s first novel, “In the Language of Miracles,” was published to wide acclaim four years ago. She spoke about that book at the Ohio County Public Library’s Lunch With Books series in Wheeling on Nov. 10, 2015.

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Published authors and aspiring writers will be interested to know that the first Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia will be held in downtown Wheeling on Sept. 6-8.

The conference will open at 6 p.m. on Sept. 6 with an open microphone session at the Vagabond Kitchen restaurant, located at 1201 Market St.

Sessions of the conference on Sept. 7 will take place at the Ohio County Public Library, 52 16th St., and at the First State Capitol, 1413 Eoff St. Novelist David Poyer will deliver the keynote address in the library at 9:50 a.m. that day.

West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman will be the featured speaker for a banquet and awards event at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7 at West Virginia Northern Community College.

The conference will conclude Sept. 8 with more sessions and a roundtable discussion at the First State Capitol.

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

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