Coffee Night Features Quillen, Gipe, Local Authors Nov. 16

College literary journal “Jimson Weed” debuts fall 2016 issue at event.

Award-winning Appalachian Poet and Novelist Rita Quillen and Novelist Robert Gipe will be our featured authors at Coffee Night, a reading / performance event dedicated to the poetry and prose of campus and community writers, Wednesday, Nov. 16th, at 6:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room, Slemp Student Center.  The fall 2016 edition of the Jimson Weed will premiere.

Rita Quillen
Rita Quillen

Quillen, a semifinalist for Virginia’s Poet Laureate in 2012, is the author of five poetry collections, October Dusk (1987), Counting the Sums (1995), Her Secret Dream: New and Selected Poems (2007), Something to Anchor To (2015), The Mad Farmer’s Wife (2016), and Appalachian historical novel Hiding Ezra (2014), in addition to a critically acclaimed study of contemporary Appalachian poets, Looking for Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry (1989). Her work has been featured in many periodicals and anthologies, such as the award-winning Bloodroot: Appalachian Women Writers (2000) and Listen Here: Women Writing Appalachia (2004). Her short story, “Elizabeth’s Lovelife,” earned Honorable Mention in the Harriette Arnow Short Story competition of the Appalachian Writer’s Association in 2002. Quillen’s poems are also included in a recent celebrated anthology, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol. III: Contemporary Appalachia (2011).

A long-time supporter of Coffee Night and our first featured writer, Quillen will return with her new collection of poetry, The Mad Farmer’s Wife. A semifinalist for the DANA Award, Quillen has taught literature, writing, and creative writing at ETSU-Kingsport Center, Northeast State Technical Community College, and Mountain Empire Community College.  She received her MA from East Tennessee State University.  Having recently retired from her position as an associate professor of English at MECC, she devotes full time to writing. Currently, Quillen lives with her husband in Southwest Virginia on Early Autumn Farm in Scott County, Virginia.

Robert Gipe
Robert Gipe

Gipe is the acclaimed author of Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel (Ohio University Press 2015), winner of the 2015 Weatherford Award for “best illuminat[ing] the challenges, personalities and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” Recognized as “the most innovative American fiction to appear in years” (Gurney Norman) and as “a new American masterpiece” (The Knoxville News-Sentinel), the debut novel establishes Gipe as “the most original voice to emerge on the literary landscape since Lewis Nordan” in the words of novelist and former Coffee Night featured author Darnell Arnoult. It has also been described as “deeply lovable” (the Library Journal), “jagged, dark, and honest” (the Washington Independent Review of Books), and “ragged but right” (Dylan Hicks of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Gipe’s fiction has appeared in Still, Appalachian Heritage, and in other periodicals. In addition to being a writer and an illustrator, Gipe is faculty coordinator of the Crawdad student arts series and Appalachian Program director at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College.  He also serves as producer for Higher Ground, a series of community musical dramas based on oral histories and grounded in discussion of local issues. Gipe received a BA from Wake Forest University and an MA in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, he currently resides in Harlan, KY, and is a regular participant in the annual Appalachian Writers Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School.

Coffee Night also features “Fall Highland Voices: Writers and Performers of the College and Community.” All contributors to the 2016 fall edition of the Jimson Weed are welcome to present and the program will be forthcoming. Others who are interested in participating or performing at Coffee Night may contact Shelby Roberts, Jimson Weed managing editor, at, by Monday, November 7.

Both events will be followed by a book signing. Quillen’s The Mad Farmer’s Wife and Gype’s Trampoline are also available at the bookstore.

This event is free and open to the public.  Students will receive cultural credit for attendance.

For more information, contact Kathy Still, Director of News and Media Relations, (276) 376-1027.

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