Writers Talk About Home at Visiting Writers Series Event

Morgan Pemberton, Student Reporter

The idea of home brought two writers to Marshall for the second A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series event.  

Both Isabel Duarte-Gray and Karen McElmurray hail from Kentucky, with Duarte-Gray growing up in Kuttawa County and McElmurray in Floyd and Johnson County.   

“One thing that motivates me is home—I mean geographically,” McElmurray said. “I was talking about that a lot in the creative nonfiction class today. I have lived away and away and away. I, in fact, moved from the mountains I live now outside of Baltimore, and just trying to get home again” 

Duarte-Gray and McElmurray both read from their own collections, with McElmurray reading from three of her works. She read the prologue from her book “Wanting Radiance, in which the main character lost her mother and goes on living from place to place. 

McElmurray also read from her book “Voice Lessons,, which had a more personal sentiment, with it talking about her life growing up and her mother’s nine-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. 

The idea of home also motivated Duarte-Gray to come and read three short poems from her work “Even Shorn,” which she did in collaboration with her mother.  

Duarte-Gray’s poems gave insight into her own life growing up, with one poem being about her grandmother and how she would break into people’s houses and try on all their clothes. 

Duarte-Gray also read something from her newest collection, which started out with court cases revolving around sexual violence. The two cases she read about came from Alabama and Arkansas. 

Rachael Peckham, the series’ coordinator, said about the event itself that picking the writers happens well in advance, and potential speakers normally reach out to the university wanting to come and speak.  

“It is not difficult to find writers who wants to visit and read because we get solicited,” Peckham said. “We get a lot of contacts asking if they can come and read, and it is a matter if they fit the lineup. 

She went on to say, “I had contacts already through Karen and Isabel. Karen, I met when she was teaching at Georgia College. Isabel was in a class with my son, so I knew of her through him, and since both Karen and Isabel are from Kentucky, I felt like it was a good fit,” Peckham added that the goal for the Writers Series is to represent diverse groups and demographics. 

The third and final event of this series will take place in the Shawkey Room in the Memorial Student Center on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. during which you will hear from Marshall professors, Forrest Roth and Anthony Viola.