Author Sharon Hatfield and filmmaker/musician Jack Wright are the featured writers for Coffee Night, a reading and performing event at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Coffee Night, sponsored by the Department of Language and Literature, Department of Communication Studies, and the Jimson Weed literary journal, is dedicated to the poetry and prose on campus and in the community.
The fall edition of the Jimson Weed will premiere during Coffee Night. All Jimson Weed contributors are invited to present their work at Coffee Night. Others in the region who are interested in participating or performing at Coffee Night may contact Heaven Parridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, Nov. 3.
All of the events are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Kathy Still, director of college relations, at 276-376-1027.
Hatfield and Wright, both scholars, will be on campus on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10. They are speaking at 6:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room of the Slemp Student Center on Nov. 9. They will also present a lecture on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room. The lecture is titled “The Man and His Art: Fred J. Carter’s Lasting Importance.”
Carter was a prolific self-taught painter and wood sculptor who operated the Cumberland Museum in Clintwood, where he displayed cultural artifacts from the region as well as his own artwork. Illustrating the personality and politics of this visionary Appalachian artist, Carter’s work reflected not only his Appalachian heritage but also social concerns on a regional, national and international level.
Hatfield wrote a lengthy feature article about their friend and mentor Carter and engaged in a dialogue with him about his own writing. Wright co-produced a short documentary on Carter and did his master’s thesis at Ohio University on Carter’s life and work. They also continued to correspond with Carter after moving to Ohio in 1985. Their joint presentation will combine these elements and demonstrate that not all valuable art has to come from “the big city” or from formally taught artists. The story of Carter’s life and work is a passion (which he called “drivenness”) to succeed.
More than two decades after his death in 1992, Carter is recognition in the art world. A 2013 major exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and a current showing of his work at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon are the latest evidence of the lasting importance of Carter’s work.
Hatfield is the award-winning author of “Never Seen the Moon: The Trials of Edith Maxwell” and co-editor of An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature. Hatfield is a native of Ewing, Virginia, where she grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. After earning undergraduate degrees in English and biology at Lincoln Memorial University, she became an award-winning reporter at the Coalfield Progress newspaper in Norton. Upon moving to Ohio in 1985, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. Hatfield received a creative writing fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council that allowed her to research Never Seen the Moon, which won the Weatherford and Chaffin awards for nonfiction. She currently lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband Jack Wright, a Wise native, a UVa-Wise alumnus of ’72, and professor emeritus in the Ohio University School of Film.
Wright has explored and celebrated Appalachian life through music, theater, film, writing and activism for the better part of 40 years. While at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky, Wright served as a board member, founder of June Appal Recordings and an actor in the Roadside Theater. He also was a guitarist and singer with the Payroll Boys band in the 1970s and 80s and continues today as a solo performer. In the 1980s Wright served as director of the Ohio Arts Council’s media arts program before accepting a position at the Ohio University School of Film, where he taught documentary film production and film studies. In 2002-03 Jack took a leave from OU to serve as the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair at the Appalachian Center at Berea College in Berea, KY. He has written for various journals and magazines, appeared on National Public Radio, and in 2007, produced the award-winning book and CD set “Music of Coal.” He is a two-time winner of the Ohio Arts Council writing fellowship for criticism. In 2010 he received the Cratis Williams Service Award given by the Appalachian Studies Association to an individual who has made exemplary contributions to Appalachian studies.
Retired from Ohio University, Wright is now working on environmental preservation as well as on efforts to secure better broadband service for rural areas in Appalachia. He also volunteers as an adviser to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio’s Jenco Fund. His documentary movie on Fred Carter, co-produced with William Blanton, had a nine-month run as part of the Carter exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., in 2013-14. In the spirit of his mentor Helen Lewis, Wright continues to speak about issues affecting the region he holds dear.