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Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books Partners with Peoples University for This Year’s Fall Series

WHEELING — The Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books is returninf in partnership with the Peoples University at the Ohio County Public Library and the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission.

The fall series celebrates the 250th anniversary of Wheeling’s founding with programs focused on the rich tradition of literature in the city. All of the programs start at 7 p.m. in the library’s auditorium.

At the first meeting on Tuesday, Wheeling native Keith Maillard, author of the acclaimed novels, “Clarinet Polka” and “Gloria,” will discuss “Fatherless,” his new memoir from West Virginia University Press. He will appear on live video feed via Skype.

“Fatherless” is a suspenseful work of historical reconstruction — a social history often reading like a detective story — that took Maillard from Vancouver to Montreal to his native Wheeling.

The second meeting, on Nov. 12, will feature West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, who will read his poem, “Wheeling at 250,” commissioned for Wheeling’s celebration and then discuss the background behind his creation of this poem.

He also plans to read selections from writers associated with the greater Wheeling area including James Wright and Rebecca Harding Davis, as well as a few other poems of his own rooted in Wheeling. To conclude, he will reflect upon the influence of Wheeling upon his life and work.

The third session, on Nov. 19, will feature Wheeling-born playwright Sean O’Leary, whose play, “Pound,” was produced in New York with Christopher Lloyd in the lead. After recently being drawn into a debate about J.D. Vance’s book and soon-to-be movie “Hillbilly Elegy,” O’Leary will explore questions of where West Virginia is as a state and where it’s going as well as the joy, suffering, pride and shame that goes with being a West Virginian from Wheeling.

On Nov. 26 at the fourth meeting in the series, George Fetherling, a Wheeling-born poet, writer, editor, scholar and visual artist, will discuss lesser-known Wheeling authors such as William Hamburger and Edith Iglauer, as well as visitors such as Mark Twain and Carl Sandburg. The author of “The Big Greek: The Rise and Fall of Bill Lias,” Fetherling also will talk bout growing up during the reign of Lias in Wheeling.

The final meeting on Dec. 3 will feature Wheeling’s Women Writers. In addition to her own work, professor Christina Fisanick will talk about Wheeling’s pioneering realist writer, Rebecca Harding Davis. Laura Jackson Roberts will discuss the future of women writers by focusing on environmental writing. Jeanne Finstein and Judi Hendrickson will discuss local history writing.

Cheryl Ryan Harshman, an experienced storyteller and writer, will talk about writing for children and will include the importance of place in that writing. Phyllis Sigal, Weelunk’s managing editor, will talk about the nonprofit, online magazine’s role in the community and share some war stories from 38 years in the newspaper industry.

Glynis Board, assistant news director and education reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting in the Northern Panhandle, will discuss her work. Veteran newspaper writer Linda Comins will talk about female newspaper columnists in Wheeling in the modern era.

All programs are free and open to the public. Patrons may attend as many classes as they want. There are no tests or other requirements.

For more information about the Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books and People’s University’s Wheeling in Literature, send an email to lunchwithbooks@yahoo.com, call the library at 304-232-0244 or visit its reference desk.

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