The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Murray State University is pleased to announce the establishment of The Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writer’s Residency.
The residency has been created with gifts from Shirley Moore Menendez, John C. Moore, Tom Moore, Nancy Moore Waldrop and Jayne Moore Waldrop in honor of their late parents and their family’s eastern Kentucky roots. Clinton Elster Moore (1916-2008) and Mary Opal Moore (1922-2015) were born in eastern Kentucky – Pike and Letcher counties, respectively – but left the mountains in the early 1950s when they moved to far western Kentucky. They settled in Paducah where they remained for the rest of their lives, but they always considered Appalachia their home.
The Moore Residency was created to strengthen literary connections between Appalachia and western Kentucky while enhancing the creative and professional growth of students pursuing their MFA at Murray State. It commemorates the Moores’ east-to-west journey in hopes of fostering creativity and understanding between two distinct regions in Kentucky connected by the Cumberland River. The Clinton and Mary Opal Moore Appalachian Writer’s Residency takes place during the MFA program’s annual July residency and includes a one-week stay for the writer in a private cabin owned by the family and overlooking Lake Barkley.
The inaugural visiting writer for the Moore Residency is Robert Morgan, who was raised on his family’s farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, three books of nonfiction, and eight books of fiction, including Gap Creek, which was a New York Times bestseller and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as a selection for her book club. In both his poetry and prose, Morgan explores Appalachian culture, often drawing on strange and haunting family legends passed down from his Welsh immigrant ancestors. He’s the recipient of three NEA grants, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, the James G. Hanes Poetry Prize by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the North Carolina Literature Award, and the Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. Morgan is also a frequent faculty member of the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School.
“We are indebted to the Moore family for a gift that will not only benefit students working in the MFA program here at Murray State, but will also enrich the wider literary community in western Kentucky,” says Carrie Jerrell, Interim Director of the MFA Program, “and we’re thrilled to be hosting Robert Morgan, who writes so beautifully about the landscape and people of Appalachia in his prose and poetry.”
Robert Morgan will read from his work on Friday, July 7, 2017 at 7:30pm in the Curris Center Theater on the Murray State campus. A book-signing and reception will follow on site. The reading is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Carrie Jerrell, Interim Director of the MFA program, at 270-809-4723 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the MFA website at http://www.murraystate.edu/mfa.