Hunger issues to be highlighted during local writers’ readings

Alison Baldridge, Reporter

Local writers will help bring to light the hunger issues facing the Huntington area by participating in the first A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series of the semester at 7 p.m. this Thursday at the Visual Arts Center.

Joel Peckham, assistant professor in the English department, and Laura Treacy Bentley, Huntington native and Marshall alum, are both presenting their works. During the event, nonperishable food items will be collected for donation to the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington as part of National Hunger Action Month.

Sarah Chavez, visiting assistant professor in the English department, is the coordinator for the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series and will introduce the speakers during the event.

“The goal is to celebrate local writers and to bring awareness to issues of hunger in Huntington and Cabell County,” Chavez said. “The representative of Facing Hunger will also be at the reading and she will talk about food deserts in the county and other things.”

Peckham will be reading from his creative nonfiction collection “Body Memory.”

“’Body Memory’ deals with how we process and live with trauma,” Peckham said. “There are physical and psychological trauma that I am exploring. I like to think the emphasis in my work is not on the trauma necessarily, but how we live through it and how we keep going.”

Peckham said an important aspect of writing is connecting to the reader and actually making them experience moments they can relate to.

“Your first responsibility as a writer is to make the reader be able to experience a moment, idea, place or person along with you,” Peckham said.  “When you encounter a person that can actually make you feel like you are living through the experience, that becomes a very intimate and powerful communal occurrence. If you can’t get your reader to relate with you, then you’ve forgotten what it is to be human, and writing is about what it is to be human.”

Laura Treacy Bentley is a local novelist and poet from Huntington. According to a Marshall press release, she has had works published in numerous literary journals in the United States and Ireland.

Chavez said she is excited to use this event to connect to the community, while also showcasing local writers.

“I’m thrilled,” Chavez said. “I love this event and I feel like this is what art should do. Art should work for its community and provide something outside of aesthetic. I love the opportunity to meet people and the community, and I’m happy to continue this tradition when I took over.”

Students and faculty volunteers will be introducing the writers. Each writer will be reading for approximately 15-20 minutes, then a Q&A will allow anyone in the audience to ask questions. Books by the authors will be available to be bought and signed after the Q&A.

Alison Baldridge can be contacted at [email protected].