The first author to visit us for our Visiting Writers Series was Appalachia native Leah Hampton. She read “Mingo” from her collection of short stories, Fuckface. This chapter contains characters who lament mountaintop removal in their small towns, leaving land and its people economically depressed and making their citizens sick. The reading beautifully alternated between humor and evocativeness, compelling the audience to laugh together or become inspired. Hampton’s characterization truly demonstrates how these stories are an extension of rural Appalachia.
After reading, she answered a few questions from the audience, including how much of her work is autobiographical (not much) or why she chose one-word chapter titles. She recounted how a fellow writer once told her that,
“If you cannot describe a chapter in one word, you don’t have a complete chapter.”
Hampton’s writing showcased the intricate and personal storytellings of Southern people and places, and her words stuck with us beyond the event. We’re honored to have had Leah Hampton visit our campus and hope she can come back soon to share more of her writing and craft.