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Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic Night series to begin at the Cultural Center on January 21, 2005

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History will open its new monthly Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic Night series on Friday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m., in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. The series will feature Peter Kosky of South Charleston as host and a guest poet/storyteller each month. January’s program will feature Marc Harshman of Wheeling. The Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic Night series is free and open to the public.

New and established writers are invited to come and share their poetry and storytelling talents at the open mic sessions. Kosky, a history teacher at South Charleston High School and a talented singer/songwriter, will introduce all participants. The open mic session is limited to one hour; the guest artists will begin their shows shortly after the last poem/story has been read, whether or not the hour is over.

Harshman will be reading from his new book of poems, Local Journeys, published last fall by Finishing Line Press in Cincinnati, Ohio. The poems are largely drawn from the decade he spent living on Sally’s Backbone in southern Marshall County. He also will read some selections of more recent poetry and share his skill as a storyteller by reading the story Come Again in the Spring by Richard Kennedy.

Raised in rural Indiana, Harshman has lived his adult life in West Virginia, where for many years he was a grade school teacher. His poems have been widely published in The Georgia Review, Wilderness, Southern Humanities Review, Christianity and Literature, Shenandoah and more in the United States and Britain. In addition to Local Journeys, Harshman has published two other books of poetry, Rose of Sharon and Turning out the Stones. Jared Carter wrote of Harshman’s poetry in The Georgia Review, saying “Everything he describes is authentic and convincing; it is a poetry of attentiveness.”

Harshman is also a well known children’s author. He has written 10 children’s picture books including Only One, a “Reading Rainbow” review title, and The Storm, a Junior Library Guild selection as well as a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children and a Parent’s Choice Award recipient. His children’s titles have been translated into Swedish, Spanish, Danish, and Korean. An 11th book is forthcoming from Dutton/Penguin.

The evening will close with a question-and answer-session and Harshman will have books available for purchase and booksigning purposes.

The Poetry/Storytelling Open Mic series will continue next month with poet/playwright/artist Elaine Blue of Huntington on Friday, Feb. 18. The series will continue through May. For more information about the programs, call (304) 558-0162 or visit our web site at

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s web site at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.