News Details

November 06, 2015

MFA Program Awarded WV Humanities Council Grant

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at West Virginia Wesleyan College has been awarded its fourth major grant by the West Virginia Humanities Council.  The grant, in the amount of $5,300, is to pay for the honoraria for nationally-renowned writers to share their works with the Wesleyan community and beyond.

For the last three years, with generous assistance from the Humanities Council, the program has hosted several nationally-prominent writers on campus for evening readings that are always free and open to the public. Guests have included Jayne Anne Phillips, Maggie Anderson, Terrance Hayes, Scott McClanahan, Ann Pancake, Patricia Smith, George Singleton and many others.

This year's grant funding will enable us to welcome Mitchell Douglas and Robert Gipe on campus during the Winter 2016 Residency and three more writers during our Summer 2016 Residency: Nikky Finney, Sarah Einstein, and Pinckney Benedict. Both Douglas and Finney are members of The Affrilachian Poets, an important grassroots group of poets of color that speaks to the experience of minorities in the Appalachian region.  The Affrilachian Poets will celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2016, so the program is honored to be taking part in celebrating these diverse voices this year.

“I'm grateful for the Council's consistent support of our visiting writers series,” stated MFA program director Jessie van Eerden.  “The funding has enabled us to bring award-winning authors that contribute generously to the enlivening MFA residencies, both with their performances and their candid conversation about craft and the writing life.  Each January and July, I find that the readings deepen and enlarge the literary conversation that builds over the course of the residency session, and it is exciting to me that art-loving folks living in and around Buckhannon also become part of that conversation.”

The late Irene McKinney, founding director and former WV Poet Laureate, launched the MFA program in the hopes that it would provide not only a vibrant literary center for our matriculating students but also a stream of literary events for the public in North Central West Virginia, with a special focus on writers that explore the Appalachian region in their literature. The current faculty and students continue to support that mission and are grateful that the Council champions that mission as well. 

For more information on the visiting writer series or the MFA program, please contact program director Jessie van Eerden at  You may also visit the program website at

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