Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods cover

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it felt like the rest of the nation woke up and wanted to know what made Appalachia tick. Who lived here? What are we like? What do we have to say?

We certainly can’t give one answer to all of those questions. But we can help you feel a kinship with people whose families have lived here for generations and those who have just arrived.

In the spring of 2017, West Virginia University Press released “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods,” a collection of fiction and poetry from 63 writers and poets who have some connection with West Virginia. 

The writers all give readers within and outside the state a sense of their experiences through the stories that their imaginations conjured in West Virginia. They pass along a rhythm of life from their towns, their lives, the landscapes that surround them and history not written in books. 

In this episode we talk to two writers whose work appears in the collection:  

Jessie Van Eerden

PHOTO PROVIDED


Jessie van Eerden, a graduate of WVU’s English program, is director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts writing program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Her first book, Glorybound, came from knowledge of life in a very small West Virginia town facing economic hardship.


Glenn Taylor

PHOTO BY RAYMOND THOMPSON JR.



Glenn Taylor is associate professor of English at WVU. His first book, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, came out of his interest in the history of the West Virginia mine wars and his experience being surrounded by people who are great at telling stories. 

They both grew up in the state. They both left. They both came back to write the novels in their hearts and teach the next generation of writers. 

Listen in to find out what they have to say about writing for themselves and everyone else, both inside and outside West Virginia. 

A big thank you to WVU Press for sharing “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods” and cover art with us. You can find the book for purchase on their website. And thanks to Kay and Posey for sharing their song “Sweet Fire” with us for this episode. 

And thanks to the voices you hear reading the stories at the beginning of the episode: McKenzie Hall, Dan Hamilton, Pam Pritt, Austin Isinghood, Jake Stump and Hannah Maxwell. They’re all our colleagues at WVU’s University Relations and are also all from West Virginia.

Tell us what you thought of this episode of Sparked at wvumag@mail.wvu.edu.