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Wheeling Poetry Series Hosts Cameron Barnett


WHEELING — The Ohio County Public Library’s weekly Lunch with Books Livestream will feature Cameron Barnett as part of the Wheeling Poetry Series.

A Pittsburgh-based poet, Barnett is the guest for the library’s 16th Wheeling Poetry Series program so far. The Lunch With Books Livestream will begin at noon on Tuesday, March 9.

Barnett, who also has a career as an editor and a middle school teacher, is an African American poet whose work explores the political, personal and cultural nuances of the Black experience in North America. Barnett’s work focuses on two main questions: “Who are we? And who are we to each other?” He focuses on how portrayals of groups of people, particularly Black people, are often monolithic and presented from the perspective of the dominant society, a perspective that leaves little room for empathy and nuance.

“My belief is that stories are the binding thread of all communication,” Barnett said. “Stories are what bind us and how we create empathy, understanding and growth. As a society we are always revising and line editing our past and present selves.”

He will join the Lunch With Books session along with West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, host and organizer of the Wheeling Poetry Series.

This program will be available to watch live on Facebook Live, on YouTube and on the Ohio County Public Library website’s Lunch With Books Livestream page. Viewers can log into their Facebook or YouTube account during the program to leave questions for Barnett in the comments box, and he will answer them during the live broadcast.

Barnett currently serves as an editor for Pittsburgh Poetry Journal. His poetry explores the complexity of race and the body for a Black man in today’s America. His work has been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 82nd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize.

He is the recipient of a 2019 Investing in Professional Artists Grant Program, a partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments; he is also the 2019 Emerging Artist Awardee for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, co-sponsored by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. He is the author of “The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water,” winner of the Autumn House Press 2017 Rising Writer Contest, and finalist for the 49th NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry.

Launched in September 2015, the Wheeling Poetry Series features readings by some of the finest poets from our Appalachian region and beyond. The series came about as a result of an ongoing conversation with Harshman, who felt that there was a need for a dependable venue in which to present major American poets reading and talking about their work in West Virginia, and more specifically in Wheeling.

Harshman had long lamented the loss of the James Wright Festival which had been held for many years in Wright’s hometown of Martins Ferry. “That annual event was a towering success,” Harshman said, “lauded by poets across the U.S., and I see no reason why such a success cannot be replicated here in Wheeling. And some will remember that frequently some of the programming for the Wright festival was, in fact, held at various locations in Wheeling.”

Lunch With Books is the Ohio County Public Library’s flagship program for adult patrons. These lunchtime programs feature authors, poets, musicians, historians and more every Tuesday at noon.


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