It is my great pleasure to announce the writers committed to date to the Essays on a West Virginia Childhood project. This project is a direct result of A Better West Virginia’s annual initiative to support the mountain state.
As many of you have read, our first writer was Lisa Minney, who shared memories of her grandfather in The Fishing Stool. Joining Lisa as we complete our project will be these fine people:
Anne Clinard Barnhill — Anne has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity. She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance. You can find more about Anne on her website, www.anneclinardbarnhill.com.
John Warren — John is a long-time friend of mine. We first met as very young children when our families were in the same Presbyterian Church in Charleston, and we later found each other again in junior high and high school. He was always incredibly intelligent, compassionate and insanely funny. One of those people you just know in your heart you will always adore and respect, he took my breath away when he told me he wanted to write about growing up gay in West Virginia. He sent me an email that said, “It was as if homosexuality was an urban legend. I was never even sure if it was real, which meant I wasn’t really sure what was going on with me for a long time either.” I am thrilled and honored to have John’s participation in this project. I am especially looking forward to what his perusing of old school journals will produce!
Amy Hamric Weintraub — Amy is one of the most intense and effective community leaders I have ever known. I have seen her go to the mat for reproductive rights, fair housing, jobs, civil rights, religious freedom, and peace. She is a devoted wife, mother, and friend, as well as an accomplished professional with a long history of executive leadership in key community nonprofit organizations. Her essay will focus on growing up in a family with a long West Virginia heritage, while playing and learning among “children of hippie farmers and Filipino doctors.” I not surprised she will give us insight into early experiences with diversity, as those times have clearly helped make her the woman she is today.
Liza Teodoro — Liza describes herself as “not a writer by any stretch of the imagination,” but she is truly enamored of her home state, and is excited to take part in this project. (It’s always the self-deprecating ones who surprise me……) She is married to her best friend Alex and is a stay-at-home mom to 2 wonderful pre-school aged girls. Liza lives in Chicago with her family, and drags them to as many nature-inspired destinations as possible. The main theme of her essay is “family,” from her parents ending up in West Virginia in 1970, to her own childhood, to where she and her family may end up next, as they have lived in Chicago for over 20 years.
Janis Bland — Janis describes herself as “a West Virginian, a frustrated artist, a depressive, and a bureaucratic wonk who would rather just live simply and sustainably.” She was born and raised in Weston, West Virginia. Unlike her siblings, she eschewed WVU in favor for Beloit College, a small liberal arts school in the eponymous city in Wisconsin. “I went to Beloit College thinking of a career in archaeology, but then realized that to attain that I needed a degree in anthropology. I also realized that I got a vicarious ‘archaeological’ thrill from languages, which resulted in my having a double major Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Classical Philology (that is, Latin). What defines me is my trying to develop my creative side that I know is there, buried deep in my being. I am, after all, my father’s daughter, and he was both a fine artist and a deeply spiritual and quietly religious person.” You can see a little more into Janis’s mind by visiting her blog at www.juanuchisway.com.
Yours truly will write as well; my essay will focus on my summers at (Stonewall) Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp during my teen years. New essayists are always welcome! Just drop a comment here on the blog anytime. The general timeline is available here.