Visiting Writers Series kicks off fall season with Marshall alumni, charitable cause


Brittany Hively

Authors and Marshall alumni Rajia Hassib and Jordan Farmer answer questions posed by the audience during the first event in the fall 2019 season of the A. E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series Thursday, Sept. 26.

The A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series introduced the season Thursday by welcoming Marshall University alumni Jordan Farmer and Rajia Hassib back to campus to read excerpts from their published works to support Facing Hunger Food Bank. 

“This specific event traditionally happens in the early part of the fall semester to benefit Facing Hunger Food Bank,” said Cody Lumpkin, co-coordinator of the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writer’s Series. “It’s been an annual for several years now.”

Entry to the series was free for students and community members, but it was encouraged that attendees bring a non-perishable food item to be collected for the Facing Hunger Food Bank. 

Facing Hunger Food Bank, formerly known as the Huntington Area Food Bank, serves approximately 116,000 people annually in a total of 17 counties across West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, according to the organization’s website.

While this event was in support of Facing Hunger, the rest of the series is aimed towards current affairs. 

“We generally try to pick readings that play certain thematic or subject matter emphasis,” Lumpkin said. 

Coordinators find authors from multiple programs and word of mouth, but sometimes they come straight from Marshall, like Farmer and Hassib, who attended Marshall at the same time. 

“By the way, Jordan and I were earning our master’s here at the same time, and we were in a class together for a semester, so we go back (a) long way,” Hassib said during the question and answer portion of the event. “I’m happy to be reading along side of him.”

Farmer was quick to agree about his joy in being a guest of the series.

Farmer began the night with a reading of the first chapter of his upcoming novel “The Poison Flood,” due to release May 2020. 

Hassib read a piece of her recent novel “A Pure Heart.” She then went on to explain the meaning behind the book and the complexity behind her writing it. She finished up with another piece from the book. 

The College of Liberal Arts organizes the Visiting Writers Series each year to help support authors and introduce them to people on Marshall’s campus and community members. 

“These people are, maybe they’re not big names, like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman or Ann Patchett, but they’re people who are talented and some of them are literally in our backyard,” Wendi Kozma, co-coordinator of the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writer’s Series, said. “We have had writers from West Virginia, and we’ve had writers from Kentucky. So, ya know, there’s a plethora of people in our area who are writers.” 

The next Visiting Writer’s Series event will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 in Corbly Hall and will feature author David Treuer.

Brittany Hively can be contacted at [email protected].