Lee News

Woolfitt and Hamner Scholars Attend Literary Festival

 

Mackenzie Oberndorfer and Charity Parris were recently awarded 2017 Earl Hamner scholarships to attend the 12th annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. They were accompanied by Dr. William Woolfitt, assistant professor of creative writing at Lee, who served as workshop faculty at the festival.

Held at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, the festival gathers writers from across the country to lead and attend workshops, encouraging growth and community. The Hamner scholarships pay all expenses for new writers and are awarded to those who submit essays about their writing goals.

While at the festival, Woolfitt taught an interactive poetry workshop that included readings, prompts, and discussion. Five other guest faculty led genre-specific workshops in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Woolfitt also read from his poetry collection, “Charles of the Desert,” at the festival.

“Festival co-directors Darnell Arnoult and Denton Loving do a wonderful job creating opportunities and community for writers,” said Woolfitt. “Whenever I take a craft class at the Festival, I end up with poems that get published. The poem I started writing at the 2016 Festival, inspired by poet Rose McLarney and photographer Roger May, was accepted for publication one year later. I received this news during the 2017 Festival.”

The workshop faculty included Marie Manilla and Jim Minick (fiction), Pauletta Hansel and Woolfitt (poetry), and Sonja Livingston and Christopher Martin (nonfiction). Oberndorfer, part-time English instructor at Lee, participated in Manilla’s fiction workshop, and Parris, rising senior at Lee, was a student of Livingston’s nonfiction workshop.

“At the festival, I created and developed new ideas and techniques in the company of kindred writers,” said Oberndorfer. “They, and the beautiful Cumberland Gap, have continued to inspire me even after the festival.”

The scholarships are named after Earl Hamner, Jr., a generous supporter of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. Hamner is the author of several classic books, and the creator of the well-known television series, “The Waltons.” Originally from Schulyer, Virginia, he was the 2007 keynote speaker at the festival and embodies the spirit and kindness found in Appalachia.

For more information about the festival, visit Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.
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