Mountain State Press celebrating anniversary

CLARKSBURG — “Many Mountain Voices,” a celebration of Mountain State Press’s 40th anniversary and a reception for its 2018 anthology “Voices on Unity: Coming Together, Falling Apart,” will be Saturday at the historic Waldomore at 404 West Pike St. in Clarksburg.

The Waldomore is part of the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library system.

The public is invited to join Mountain State Press editor Cat Pleska and a collection of West Virginia’s authors at a free “we did it” literary celebration at the Waldomore from 2-4 p.m.

Among the authors scheduled to read their works will be poet Randi Ward of Parkersburg.

Arranged in collaboration with Library Manager Julia Todd and the Friends of the Clarksburg-Harrison Library, the event marks a milestone for Mountain State Press: 40 years and enjoying a ground-breaking year, Pleska said.

This little press that could, founded in 1978 by Jim Comstock of West Virginia “Hillbilly” fame, and his board of directors, is a survivor, Pleska said. Like many Comstock projects, she said, it started with pizzazz, hope and work. Mostly work.

After his death, it struggled and then thrived under the direction of many volunteer board members, including Pleska, the current president and wearer of many hats.

The Press, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit literary independent organization, is a rarity in West Virginia. It operates on a shoestring because folks like Pleska donate their time.

Its original mission–to publish emerging and established voices of West Virginia or books about West Virginia — has expanded to include regional titles and it more than meets its goal to add two to three titles each year, said Pleska.

It has published such luminaries as Moundsville and Clarksburg’s own Davis Grubb, Dr. Jay Banks, Alice Fay Bragg, Kirk Judd and Belinda Anderson, among many others.

In 2018 its most recent title “Voices on Unity: Coming Together, Falling Apart,” edited by Pleska, debuted. This collection of stories, poems and essays by writers speaks to the theme of unity in a time of discord.

Twenty-two established West Virginia authors and writers wrote original pieces for the collection, along with 13 authors from around the country.

The book is being recognized across America. Articles about Voices and its themes (some say it resonates with the unified teachers’ strike in West Virginia) are found not just in West Virginia newspapers, but also in U.S. News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of other news publications.

At the celebration, speakers will add their recollections about the beginning of the Press–Kirk Judd and Brenna Craig. Contributors to the Unity anthology will read: W.Va. Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, poet and children’s writer Anna Egan Smucker, short story writer and balladeer Pete Kosky, and editor Pleska.

Refreshments will be served.


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