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Women of Appalachia Project to Host Showcase Aug. 27

Photo provided C.J. Farnsworth of Wheeling reads her poetry to a packed audience at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio. She will also perform at the Towngate Theater in Wheeling on Aug. 27.

WHEELING — The Women of Appalachia Project’s Women Speak showcase is slated to be held for the first time in person in Wheeling on Aug. 27 at Towngate Theatre.

Women Speak is a juried showcase of stories, poetry and music by female artists who live or have strong ties to Appalachia, according to information from Oglebay Institute.

It will be held 1-3 p.m. Aug. 27 and is free and open to the public.

“The event is a presentation of readings published in WOAP’s anthology ‘Women Speak, Volume Seven,’ a lavish mix of female voices– northern, central, southern, Affrilachian, LQBTQ, Asian-Appalachian, those differently-abled, emerging and well established – everyone stepping up to speak the truths of Appalachia,” according to event information.

“Poetry, story, song, essay, each a tribute to Appalachian honor, endurance, courage, love of family, community, and the land, providing evidence of how even against the odds Appalachians continue to thrive and stand strong in their convictions, working together to build awareness and overcome marginalization and stereotype.”

The Women of Appalachia Project aims to break through the people’s stereotypes of Appalachian women by bringing together a variety of women with a variety of talents.

“Many people have an image of an Appalachian woman, and they look down on her. The mission of WOAP is to showcase the way in which female artists respond to the Appalachian region as a source of inspiration, bringing together women from diverse backgrounds, ages and, experiences to embrace the stereotype–show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her,” according to WOAP.

Kari Gunter-Seymour, founder and executive director of WOAP, said this will be the first year the event has been held in person in Wheeling. The last two were held virtually because of COVID-19 concerns.

She said between 12 and 14 women will be featured in the showcase at Towngate including Wheeling’s own C.J. Farnsworth. Women who were chosen to be a part of the showcase hail not just from West Virginia, but from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, North and South Carolina and even Georgia.

“We have women from every part of Appalachia,” said Gunter-Seymour, who lives in Albany, Ohio. “We tell the truth … the good and the bad.”

Gunter-Seymour said she was grateful to the Towngate Theatre for opening up its doors for the event to take place, along with the event’s many sponsors.

The Women of Appalachia Project was founded 14 years ago by Gunter-Seymour, who is also Ohio’s Poet Laureate.

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