Insider, Inside

This Roundtable discussion will focus around the question: Does where one lives affect how he/she writes? It is no secret that Appalachia (and, for this discussion, West Virginia in particular) is not always an easy place in which to live. People often have to leave for a variety of reasons, including economic/work related, family related, or just because they feel pulled to explore other areas. This is true for writers as well.

Some artists say that they must leave a place to fully understand it. Other writers say they can only render a place if they are there to see it, feel it.

The participants in this roundtable are each West Virginia writers who have a strong focus on place in their writing. Some live outside the state; some live inside. Is one’s ability to write about place affected by where he/she lives? Do some writers have more agency and authority to write about a certain place based not only on where she is from, but also on where she currently lives?

While these questions would be interesting for writers and other artists to explore (and perhaps consider when thinking about their own travels), others would also be interested as this question certainly has political implications. The issue of Appalachian migration directly connects to how artists represent place (both as they live inside and outside of the region).