Fall Coffee Night and Lecture to Ponder “Who Gets To Be An Appalachian Poet?”

Felicia Mitchell

UVA Wise is set to debut the fall edition of the Jimson Weed, the College’s literary journal at their semi-annual Coffee Night celebration with author and poet Felicia Mitchell. 

Coffee night will take place on Thursday, November 9, at 6:30 pm in the Rhododendron Room on the fifth floor of the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center. The event is co-sponsored by the College’s Language and Literature Department, Communication Studies Department, the lecture committee and Jimson Weed

The debut of the fall edition of the Jimson Weed will feature writers and performers from the College and surrounding community. Contributors to the new edition of the Jimson Weed come from Lavonne Baker, Neva Bryan, Mike Samerdyke, Aden Lane, Ashlee Taylor, Autumn B. Stover-Bailey, Caroline Barb, David Stewart, Ellianna Kudirka, Jacob Sparkman, Jeanie Brehl, Joe Bently, Laura Miller, Noah Looney and more. 

Mitchell will also present a lecture entitled “Nature and Environment: Who Gets To Be An Appalachian Poet?” on Friday, November 10 at 1:00 pm in the Chapel of All Faiths. The lecture will examine the notion of Appalachian geographical identity and explore its potential to extend to both native and non-native writers from the impact of nature and the environment we have in common. The talk will conclude with a chance for the audience to reflect on personal definitions of what it means to be Appalachian, and how to write from the heart.

Both the Coffee Night celebration and the lecture are open to the public. Mitchell will also meet with students earlier Thursday, November 9, for a mini-workshop.

About Felicia Mitchell

Mitchell is the author of two major collections of poems, Waltzing with Horses (Press 53); A Mother Speaks, A Daughter Listens: Journeying Together Through Dementia (Wising Up Press); and a chapbook, The Cleft of the Rock. She also is a former columnist for the Washington County News. 

Her poems have appeared in journals and in many anthologies, including Rewilding: Poems for the Environment (Flexible Press), Mountains Piled Upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene (West Virginia University Press), and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume IX: Virginia (Texas Tech Press). Along with her poems, Mitchell has published scholarly articles and edited a book titled Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women's Poetry (University of Tennessee Press). 

She has also written about experiences as a breast cancer survivor for Cure Today and has recently been featured at the 2023 Virginia Highlands Festival Writers & Readers Days, July 28-29.

Mitchell is Professor Emerita of English at Emory and Henry College after retiring in 2020. She is also an avid hiker that volunteers with the Mt. Rogers Appalachian Trail Club, leading hikes and helping with the monitoring of rare plants. One of her poems about a hike with her son, “Up from Tumbling Creek,” won an award from the Poetry Society of Virginia and is included in the Virginia Metrorail Art Project in the D.C. area.

She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina at Columbia and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. A native of South Carolina, she has made her home in the mountains of Southwest Virginia since 1987.