Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On the Road: Interviewing Candidates for the 2018 New River Gorge Winter Writer's Residency

We were delighted with the quantity and quality of the applications we received for this year's residency! Thank you if you helped us get the word out this year.

After narrowing down the list to two finalists, we decided that instead of interviewing via Skype that we would road trip it and meet the candidates on their own turf. So last weekend while everyone else in Fayetteville was enjoying the Bridge Day festivities, we headed north to Columbus, Ohio,  to interview our first candidate; and next weekend we will be heading off again, this time due south, to meet the second.

People have asked us what we look for when deciding who will be the Writer-in-Residence, and the answers are not always simple, because each applicant has his or her own strengths and challenges. Almost every application we read makes us go "hmmmm," when we come to the part where they explain what they hope to accomplish during the residency, often listing things that we never thought of. These statement often inform the questions we ask during interviews. But the basic criteria is as follows:
  • Can they take the time? Three months is  long time to be away from home, family, pets and jobs. 
  • Will they thrive in the quiet setting of the Flats during the winter? Anyone who has read "The Shining" or seen the movie knows that long sequestrations aren't for everyone!
  • Will they engage with the community? We always have a reception in town where people can meet the writer, but will they enjoy being part of the off-season Fayetteville community? It's important to us that they do.
  • What will they be working on during the residency,and how will it help us advance our goal of providing an alternative narrative of West Virginia? While we can't - and wouldn't - dictate what they will write, we hope that it will reflect the true West Virginia and not buy in to the same tired old stereotypes. 
  • Will the experience benefit them, creatively? As supporters of the arts, it is at the core our mission to help introduce creativity of all sorts into the world. 
Watch this space around the first week of November to find out who will be coming to Fayetteville this winter!

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