National Book Foundation Authors Present “The Environment of Now” at Berea College

Can readers escape the end of the world? Join National Book Award–honored authors Julia Phillips (Disappearing Earth, 2019 Fiction finalist) and Jackie Wang (The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, 2021 Poetry finalist) for readings and conversation on writing the environment of place and people in the 21st century.

The free event takes place on Tuesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. in the Berea College Alumni Building’s Baird Lounge. Refreshments will be available. Masks are required.

To bring cutting-edge authors to Appalachian Kentucky, the National Book Foundation’s public programming arm, NBF Presents, arranged these authors’ visits in partnership with Berea College and Appalshop (Letcher County).

Chris Green, director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College, shared, “Writers and their audiences are always discovering who, where and how they are. And it’s these conversations, like the one we’re fortunate to host on April 12, that bring us together and forward.”

Using a multi-year, $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Book Foundation has expanded its education and public programming to 40 states and counting through in-person programs and free online events worldwide.

“This season, we will continue to connect writers and readers with the aim of sparking community conversations and fostering a shared love of literature,” said Ruth Dickey, executive director of the National Book Foundation.

This season of NBF Presents, with 23 authors in 12 states, highlights the National Book Foundation’s continued commitment to providing readers everywhere access to engaging literary conversations.

Most events, including the hybrid one at Berea, are live-streaming.  NBF Presents calendar is available at the Foundation’s website. These are free events but please RSVP directly at the Foundation or partner website as directed.

Berea College is home to a strong creative writing program with authors Silas House (NEH chair of Appalachian Studies); Jason Howard (editor of the Appalachian Review); and Ansel Elkins, (author of the Blue Yodel) visiting assistant professor of Creative Writing at Berea College. Elkins will be moderating the event.

“One of the joys of Berea College is our deep commitment to a living literature by the people, of the people and for the people,” Green said. “At Berea, ‘people’ means everyone. As our college motto states, ‘God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.’”

Categories: News, Places, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Ansel Elkins, Jason Howard, Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, National Book Foundation, Silas House

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.