Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books Partners With People’s University for Fall Series

The Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books will return on Tuesday, Nov. 5,  in partnership with the People’s University at the Ohio County Public Library and the City of Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission. The fall series will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Wheeling’s founding with programs focused on the rich tradition of literature in the friendly city.


At the first meeting on Nov. 5, Wheeling-born Keith Maillard, author of the acclaimed novels “Clarinet Polka” and “Gloria,” will discuss “Fatherless,” his new memoir from West Virginia University Press. “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. Maillard will appear on live video feed via Skype.


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.


Meeting 3, on Nov. 19, will feature Wheeling-born playwright Sean O’Leary, whose play “Pound” was recently 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 we are as a state and where we’re going, as well as the joy, suffering, pride and shame that goes with being a West Virginian from Wheeling.

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On Nov. 26 at the fourth meeting in the series, Wheeling-born poet, writer, editor, scholar and visual artist, George Fetherling 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 will also talk about growing up during the reign of Lias in Wheeling.

The final meeting on Dec. 3 will feature Wheeling’s Women Writers:

• California University professor Christina Fisanick will talk about her own work as well as 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 non-profit 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 of the programs start at 7 p.m. in the library’s auditorium and are free and open to the public. Patrons can attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests or other requirements.

For more information about the Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books, People’s University — Wheeling 250: Wheeling in Literature, email the library at lunchwithbooks@yahoo.com, call 304-232-0244 or visit the library’s reference desk.