Fearless book

Arts West is hosting “Fearless: Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment,” an anthology reading and open mic event today (Thursday) at  6:30 p.m. The event is curated by Athens Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour. 

A brief reception will begin at 6 p.m. with music provided by Jeanie Thicken Creamer. Those who attend are invited to bring a #MeToo poem to share with the audience during the open mic session at the end of the evening’s performance. 

Seeking way to provide women a platform on which to be heard, and inspired by the recent #MeToo movement, according to a news release, editor Cat Pleska of Mountain State Press collected essays, stories and poems from 30 women throughout Appalachia, including Gunter-Seymour. Each write about her most challenging moment and how she learned to not just endure, but also to win, the release said. 

In the release, memoirist and author Sarah Einstein is quoted saying about the book, “‘Fearless: Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment’ explores the diverse experiences of women coming into their own with heart, humor and nuance. These are personal stories, not polemic, and each evinces its own special kind of grace.” 

Pleska talks about the project in the news release. “Whenever a movement swirls through our country, people often wish they could be heard in order to share their own journey, to have a voice stand out among the great cacophony that characterizes our society,” she said. “I reached out to these women knowing they would provide incredible personal stories, which would showcase quiet endurance through poverty, to surviving sexual assault, to recognizing their strength of place within families and relationships. They discovered it is OK to dream to be and do anything.”

To further encourage women to share their voices, the release said, Pleska asked 30 more women to each comment on one piece in the anthology, thereby allowing for 60 women to speak. 

In the release, author Natalie Sypolt said, “No one will finish ‘Fearless’ without feeling deep respect for these writers and encouraged to begin their own journey to self-empowerment.” 

Mountain State Press is a 41-year-old independent, nonprofit literary press operating in West Virginia. Dedicated to publishing West Virginians and Appalachians, the press counts ‘Fearless’ as its 80th title. “Fearless” copies can be ordered through the press’s website: www.mountainstatepress.org, many regional bookstores, through Amazon, and will be available for purchase the night of the event. 

Arts West is located at 132 W State St. in Athens. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

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