New Stories

VOICES Series Features Appalachian Authors

by Madison Jarnot

On Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., the Creative and Professional Writing Program held this semester’s second VOICES event featuring Pitt-Greensburg junior Lamont Ayers-Henry and Appalachian writers Kayleb Rae Candrilli and Leah Hampton. A recording of the event is available online.

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is the recipient of a Whiting Award and of a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. They are the author of “Water I Won’t Touch” (Copper Canyon, 2021), “All the Gay Saints” (Saturnalia 2020), and “What Runs Over” (YesYes Books, 2017).

​“What Runs Over” won the 2016 Pamet River Prize and was a 2017 Lambda Literary finalist for Transgender Poetry and a finalist for the 2018 American Book Fest’s best book award in LGBTQ nonfiction. Candrilli’s “All the Gay Saints” was the winner of the 2018 Saturnalia Book Prize, selected by Natalie Diaz. They are published or forthcoming in “POETRY,” “The American Poetry Review,” “Ploughshares,” “Academy of American Poets,” “TriQuarterly,” “Puerto del Sol,” “Bettering American Poetry,” “The Boston Review,” and others.

​Candrilli has served as the nonfiction editor of the “Black Warrior Review” and as a feature editor for “NANO Fiction.” They served as an assistant poetry editor for Boaat Press from 2017 to 2018. In 2015, Candrilli was a Lambda Literary Emerging Fellow in Nonfiction, and again in 2017 as a fellow in poetry. Candrilli is a Best of the Net winner and has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes (in prose and poetry) and for Best New Poets. They were also a 2017 recipient of a Leeway Art and Change Grant.

Leah Hampton writes about Appalachia, corpses, eco-anxiety, and smart women. She currently serves as the Environmental Humanities Fellow in Residence at the University of Idaho.

Her debut collection, “F*ckface and Other Stories,” was released by Henry Holt and was named one of the best books of 2020 by The Paris Review, the New York Public Library, Slate, and others. 

A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, she has been awarded multiple prizes and fellowships including the University of Texas at Austin’s Keene Prize for Literature and the Phillip Roth residency at the Stadler Center for Poetry. Her work has appeared in “Ecotone,” “Guernica,” “McSweeneys,” “Electric Literature,” “storySouth,” “LitHub,” and many other publications. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

At Pitt-Greensburg, Lori Jakiela, professor of English and director of the Creative and Professional Writing Program, and Dave Newman, visiting teaching-writer, co-direct the VOICES series.

“We’re so excited to have Kayleb Rae Candrilli and Leah Hampton join us this month,” Newman said. “Both authors provide brilliant takes on Appalachia—from mountains being destroyed to bad jobs at grocery stores to bodies being imagined and reimagined. They write about people and landscapes those of us in Western Pennsylvania can all recognize and connect with in profound ways.”

Building on the campus’s long-running Written/Spoken Series, VOICES showcases Pitt-Greensburg’s focus on experiential learning by bringing together undergraduate student-writers with award-winning authors. 

“One unique thing about the VOICES series is that it showcases our talented student-writers along with our visiting authors,” Jakiela said. “Our writing majors complete and publish chapbook-length collections before they graduate. This experience, along with experiences VOICES, prepares our student-authors to find their own place in the wide literary landscape.”

1 Comment on VOICES Series Features Appalachian Authors

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the video here! I hope everyone can check it out–especially Lamont’s reading. He has such a beautiful Pitt-Greensburg writer-heart and his reading was so much fun. And Kayleb and Leah just blew the Zoom roof off. These reading always fill my spirit.


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