Each year in October the English Department invites an author to spend a week at WVU for the Virginia Butts Sturm Writer-in-Residence program. During this residency, the author gives a reading and spends the rest of the week with twelve graduate students and one undergraduate who have applied to participate.
This year, the Department welcomed acclaimed fiction writer Claire Vaye Wakins. Watkins is the author of Battleborn (Riverhead Books, 2012), a collection of short stories that was awarded The Story Prize, and Gold Fame Citrus (Riverhead Books, 2015), a novel that imagines a near-feature Dystopian California. Watkins was also named a "5 under 35" honoree in 2012 by the National Book Foundation, and was a recipient of the Guggenheim Award in 2014. Watkins currently teaches in the Helen Zell Writers' program at the University of Michigan, is also known for her viral Tin House essay, "On Pandering."
Watkins read two essays, one of which she stated was "auto-fiction," somewhere between fiction and autobiography. The reading was special, powerful, and touched every single person in the room. During the Q&A that followed, Watkins spoke about audience, and the importance of writing about sexual assault in our current political climate. We were beyond honored to not only hear her words but learn from them in hopes that we can apply them to our own lives and craft.