I am feeling very much at home in West Virginia – and also feeling how far I have to come before I can claim a home here, too, because I respect people’s earning of their homelands. But I have high hopes for this place. I love the people whom I know here.
I visited with my friends Doug and Melissa at their home. Hops got to know their Italian greyhound, Geno – Hops’s curmudgeonliness in full effect, but they did soften up at the very end there.
It is such a treat to be with Doug, always. He was one of my earliest, best friends in this state, and I’m so excited that we’ll soon be neighbors (more or less). He’s also my official teaching mentor for the coming year. I’m a lucky woman, again.
One of my nights in town, I attended a fundraising event for the Nikki Giovanni Scholarship at the Hindman Settlement School. We enjoyed readings by Doug Van Gundy, Ann Pancake, Crystal Good, Glenn Taylor, Bill King, and Jowhor Ile, and music by the duo Born Old (which is my buddy Doug again with his friend Paul). I also got to see Vince Trimboli, whose new book The Book of Rabbits is fresh out, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Finally, on my way out of town, I stopped to look at a home I hope to rent, very near the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College where I’ll be teaching. Fingers crossed!
Somehow I did all of this with no pictures for you. Sorry! More to come as I head north to Pittsburgh. Pictures, promise.
And now time for the big news! I got word recently that I am the recipient of one of two Irene McKinney Fellowships for the 2019-2020 school year. I will begin teaching writing composition classes this fall (with the possible addition of a literature section in the spring) as part of a nine-month teaching appointment at my MFA alma mater, West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Because I was already slated to serve as residency advisor there in July (within the low-residency MFA program I’ve recently graduated from), my van travels will be pausing in July to get moved in and ready for this next adventure. I say pausing, because the fellowship lasts just nine months, and I imagine I’ll be restarting again in May of 2020 when my West Virginia sojourn adjourns. Things could always change.
I am already, in April, mourning the end of the traveling life; but teaching will be a great challenge and adventure that I am looking forward to. And I guess it gives me some peace to know the shape of things. I can now see my next few months forming: I know there are a few places I need to see before July, so my itinerary starts to round out in my head. And I’m already thinking about what I may have to offer my students in August. It’s an exciting world.
For now, nothing much changes in the day-to-day, except that I have textbook selection to do! I’ll still be posting pictures of breweries, trails and vistas, reading books and visiting friends. For now: onward down the road.
I have neglected this site as I have neglected my van and my dog.
On Christmas morning, I was with three generations of old family friends; by Christmas night, I was with my friend Abby’s family, none of whom had met me before but who welcomed me nonetheless. Meanwhile a dear family of friends watched over Hops and Foxy for me. I feel lucky.
I left Foxy and Hops in the Texas Hill Country. I traveled to Houston, to fly to Atlanta, to join Abby there. We drove up into West Virginia together, to West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, where we are both in the MFA program. I graduated; she has a little time left still. We spent 10 days or so there, then backtracked (with a stop at a state park a little out of the way), through Charleston, WV, to Atlanta, on for me to Houston and back to the Texas Hill Country to rejoin dog and van. Whew.
Here are a few photos to tide us all over til I’m back in the van.
with Paul at Audra
at Taylor Books
with Abby at Audra
turkey feather (?) fungus, Buckhannon river walk – photo by Abby
my graduating class: beautiful, talented, weird people
Audra State Park
Audra State Park
back with Hops and hops
Not pictured: at Abby’s we saw three coyotes trotting down the dark road behind her house; when we got back, we saw a group of four or five eastern bluebirds (my first!) AND a blue jay, who kindly appeared to show us the contrast. On our trip home, we stopped at the lovely Taylor Books in Charleston, where we squealed over the books of our friends like Mesha Maren, Jessie van Eerden, Katie Fallon and Doug Van Gundy. I swore I would buy no books and then bought two books.
I’ll be back with regularly scheduled programming eventually, I promise. In the meantime, we follow the twisting road. Thanks for your patience.