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George Ella Lyon is hosted by Appalachian’s Visiting Writers Series Oct. 2

BOONE—George Ella Lyon, the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Appalachian State University, will read from her work Oct. 2. The presentation is part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series. A reception in Lyon’s honor will be held in Plemmons Student Union’s Price Lake Room from 6-7:15 p.m., followed by a reading in the Table Rock Room at 7:30. The public is invited.

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Lyon publishes in multiple genres, including picture books, young adult novels, novels and poetry. A native of Harlan, Kentucky, she often sets her work in Appalachia. She currently teaches writing through conferences, workshops and author visits.

“As this year’s Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, George Ella Lyon, follows seamlessly on the heels of her luminous predecessors and brings a shimmer all her own,” said Joseph Bathanti, professor of creative writing at Appalachian and director of the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing and the Department of English’s Writing in the Field program. He also is writer-in-residence in the university’s Watauga Residential College.

“She has visited and read at Appalachian in the past, so we feel like we’re welcoming her back home,” Bathanti said. “She is indeed a singular voice among Appalachian writers: a poet, novelist, essayist, children’s author, musician, activist and gifted teacher. Her ‘Where I’m From’ exercise is arguably the most famous poetry exercise in the world.”

Lyon has published more than 40 books. Of her new poetry collection, “She Let Herself Go,” The Washington Independent Review of Books said, “Lyon, with joy and conviction, teaches us how to write. The trick is to make life right so each day is energized, restoring the writer to herself. . . .”

Bathanti also spoke of Lyon’s inspiration to budding writers. “George Ella has given voice to more people than she’ll ever know, underscoring that the power of place, of poetry and the desire to tell their stories remains a constant, uniting thread among people everywhere,” he said. “We are so pleased, so honored, to have her with us on campus for the first eight weeks of the fall semester.”

Often rooted in Appalachia, Lyon’s work speaks to a broad audience. A Booklist reviewer wrote of the novel “With a Hammer for My Heart,” that, “Lyon gives readers a story rich in precise, gorgeous language that glows like a sword on the forge and cuts as deep. . . . Tragedies old and new weave a tiny Kentucky town into the center of the universe.”

Lyon’s books have received many awards, including ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, a Jane Addams Honor, a Golden Kite, the Appalachian Book of the Year, and the Bluegrass Award. She also has received numerous Notable and Best Book citations.

Lyon has a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University, where she studied with poet Ruth Stone. She has taught writing on many campuses and spoken at hundreds of schools, libraries and conferences throughout the country.

The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), a past trustee and generous supporter of the university and recipient of the 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service award.

The Visiting Writers Series 2014-15 season is supported by the Appalachian State University Foundation, Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, the Summer Reading Program, the University Bookstore, Belk Library and Information Commons, and the Appalachian Journal. Business sponsors are The Gideon Ridge Inn and The Red Onion Restaurant.

Community sponsors include John and the late Margie Idol, Paul and Judy Tobin, Alice Naylor, Thomas McLaughlin and The High Country Writers.

Parking is free on campus after 5 p.m. The Library Parking Deck on College Street, which opens to the general public after 5:30 p.m., is recommended. To reach Plemmons Student Union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the University Post Office and enter Plemmons Student Union on the second floor.

For further information on the 2014-15 Visiting Writers Series season, visit or email To receive Appalachian’s “This Week in the Arts” announcements by email, contact