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Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series: Jessie van Eerden & Thorpe Moeckel

Jessie van Eerden


A West Virginia native, Jessie van Eerden holds a BA in English from West Virginia University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, River Teeth, Image, Bellingham Review, Willow Springs, Gulf Coast, New England Review, Ruminate, and other publications. Her prose has been selected for inclusion in Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia (Vandalia Press); Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean (Ohio University Press); Red Holler (Sarabande); Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers, Seventh Edition (Longman); Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Cascade Books); and Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin). She was selected as the 2007-2008 Milton Fellow with Image and Seattle Pacific University for work on her first novel, Glorybound (WordFarm, 2012), winner of ForeWord Reviews’  2012 Editor’s Choice Fiction Prize. Her second novel, My Radio Radio, is published by Vandalia Press (2016); her collection of portrait essays, The Long Weeping, published by Orison Books (2017), won the 20th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the essay category; and her novel Call It Horses (2021) won the 2019 Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction. She has also been awarded the Gulf Coast Prize in Nonfiction, a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellowship, and residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Fundación Valparaíso, and Wildacres.

Jessie has taught for twenty years in college classrooms and adult literacy programs, and she directed the low-residency MFA writing program of West Virginia Wesleyan College for seven years. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia and is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University as well as the Nonfiction Editor for Orison Books.




“Filled with poetry, working-class grit, and undogmatic spirituality, this novel shows us what we gain when we become outlaws in our own lives.”

--John Englehardt


“Jessie van Eerden manages, in prose so luminous it feels backlit by the golden hour, to give familiar topics—family, history, grief—their monumental due. But as exact are its descriptions of Appalachian bog and the dusty canyons of West Texas, Call It Horses locates its mystery in the liminal. The westward journey these three women take is filled with take-out meals and cheap hotel rooms, but the novel’s most illuminating route is an unsettling and compassionate search for solace.”

 -–Michael Parker




“Traversing the full range of human experiences with grace, The Long Weeping insists that solace awaits on the other side of even the blackest tumult, if only it can be perceived and grasped.”

–Foreword Reviews, starred review


Thorpe Moeckel


Thorpe Moeckel was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. From his late teens to his mid-twenties, he led trips on rivers and trails throughout the Appalachians. He earned a B.A. in English and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College in 1994 and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Virginia in 2002, where he was a Henry Hoyns and Jacob K. Javits Fellow. He has taught in the writing program at Hollins University since 2005, and loves to explore the good woods, waterways, and ridges around Virginia and West Virginia, both in writing and with family and friends in real time.

His first book of poems, Odd Botany, won the Gerald Cable Book Award in 2000, as well as the George Garrett Award for New Writing from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In subsequent poetry books, Making a Map of the River, Venison, and Arcadia Road, as well as two nonfiction books, Watershed Days and Down by the Eno, Down by the Haw, Moeckel has stayed close to the woods and rivers of the Appalachians while exploring a variety of themes, in probing, surprising language and figures that scrape and squirm against easy piety for landscape, nature, family, love, loss, time, and the void.

His work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in many journals and magazines, among them Field, Open City, The Antioch Review, Poetry Daily, Taproot, Orion, Poetry, The Southern Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

In recent years, his work has been awarded a Kenan Fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill, a Sustainable Arts Fellowship, and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship.




DOWN BY THE ENO, DOWN BY THE HAW is so rhythmic and rhymed, so riddled with light and webbed with spidery strands of connection, it moves the mind right past the obvious praise--that this prose sounds like poetry--to a stance of truer wonder. Moeckel is not the kind to let us be distracted by categorization, remarking about a bird, "If I knew its name, I wouldn't say it. If I didn't know its name, I'd make one up." His humility is earnest as his lyricism is grand, and Moeckel does intimately know the inhabitants of Piedmont environment to which he has committed himself, observing the compromised landscape with an awareness so enamored of every detail it is also "promiscuous." In the moments you are able to spend with these pages, you too will be let in, on the beauties tucked into the woods behind shopping plazas, and to a way of thinking and seeing that can, with what is gathered in some short lunch break walking, make the troubled-of-heart believe again that this world's tangles are where we are blessed to be ensnared.
--Rose McLarney

The word I think of with this stunning almanac is range. Moeckel ranges far and deep, farther and deeper than he has ever gone, while mostly "sitting and looking around" the Piedmont of North Carolina. And this wondrous epic expands his range as a poet, the language in these prose poems facile, playful, breathtaking. The sure-footed Moeckel torques poetry out of wandering in place, with breath itself a dance and an exploration. "There are roots in my lungs," he writes. And "I turtle on a fallen pine." One of my favorite poets has outdone himself. This book is delicious, inspiring, impressive.
--Janisse Ray


Author Talk

FREE and open to the public

Thursday, March 2

Craft Talk: 2:00-3:15
Reading: 6-7:30pm
Book sales will follow each event.

Plemmons Student Union 201B, Table Rock Room

Susan Weinberg at

Library Holdings


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Breanne Crumpton