The results of Wytheville, Virginia’s Chautauqua Festival were announced a couple of weeks ago. I was thrilled to place in three of four categories. My Hindman piece from 2020, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” won 2nd place at Wytheville VA’s Chautauqua Festival in Essay last month. Additionally, I placed 2nd in Poetry with “Marking,” a poem that I wrote while auditing George Ella Lyon’s Poetry Class at Hindman in July. I was both honored and thrilled to win 1st place in a brand new category, Flash Fiction, with a piece entitled, “The Drunk Man.” The “cool” part of placing in the Chautauqua Festival writing contests is that my very first contest entry, back in 1989, was in the student division of this same festival, an entry that tied for first place in Student Poetry for my poem, “Priest of Nothing.” To land 2nd place in poetry this many years later felt truly exhilarating!

The same week, I was notified that “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” will also be part of the Women of Appalachia Project’s “Women Speak” anthology and performances. This project offers the excitement of having the piece included in a written anthology, but also the opportunity to present it live in various venues around Appalachia. Once I know when and where I’ll be presenting it, I will provide further information. I’m absolutely elated to be part of this experience, though. Many phenomenal women writers from the region are included!

Yesterday, I also took a workshop with Darnell Arnoult called “Mining the Mother Lode.” For four hours, we wrote to one-word prompts, mostly for ten minutes each, then shared our writing with the others in the class. A couple of times, however, we “storm” wrote, spending just five minutes on each word, three or four words in rapid succession. Those were intense! I love workshops and classes with Darnell because she challenges her students, but you never feel like you have just spent 3-4 hours in a Zoom session. She provides ample breaks, as well as stimulation to keep students engaged. Coming up next Saturday, September 25, is the Tennessee Mountain Writers’ Fall Workshop, to be led by Wendy Dinwiddie, who also always provides lots of generative opportunities for attendees.