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MECC’s 38th annual John Fox Jr. Literary Festival scheduled for March 19

Staff Report • Feb 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM

BIG STONE GAP — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation announced Friday the 38th annual John Fox Jr. Literary Festival, featuring guest authors Darnell Arnoult and Rita Quillen, will begin at 10 a.m. on March 19 in the Goodloe Center of the college’s Phillips-Taylor Hall.

The MECC Foundation will also host the 27th annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and 10th annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest, both popular events during the festival.

Individuals interested in obtaining guidelines for submitting short story and/or poetry contest entries should contact the MECC Foundation Office at (276) 523-7466. The deadline for submitting entries is 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, with entries to be judged in the adult, high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 5-8) categories.

Contest winners will be announced during the festival.

Arnoult is a writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Her first published collection of poetry, “What Travels With Us: Poems,” won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature and SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Association) Poetry Book of the Year.

Arnoult’s first novel, “Sufficient Grace,” explores the power of personal transformation and redemption and the many ordinary and extraordinary ways they come to pass through faith, love, motherhood, art and even food.

Arnoult received the Mary Frances Hobson Medal for Arts and Letters and was named the 2007 Tennessee Writer of the Year by the Tennessee Writers Alliance. She teaches workshops and lectures across the southeastern U.S., including the Table Rock Writers Workshop, Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, the John C. Campbell Folk School, Learning Events, and the Appalachian Writers Workshop.

Quillen’s first novel, “Hiding Ezra,” will be released this year from Little Creek Books. Quillen’s poetry collection, “Her Secret Dreams,” was named Outstanding Poetry Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association in 2008.

A new book of poetry, “Something Solid to Anchor To,” is also set for publication this year. Quillen was one of six semifinalists for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her poetry received a Pushcart nomination as well as a Best of the Net nomination in 2012.

Quillen was also a finalist in the 2005 Dana Awards competition. Her previous works include poetry collections “October Dusk” and “Counting the Sums,” as well as a book of essays, “Looking For Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry.”

The festival will be followed by a reservations only luncheon with the guest speakers at the John Fox Jr. Museum in downtown Big Stone Gap. Tickets for the luncheon are $23 per person and reservations can be made by calling the MECC Foundation (www.meccfoundation.org) at (276) 523-7466.

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