Culture

Megan Wormz Benz
Athens-area singer/songwriter Megan Wormz Benz will perform alongside several other artists at the next "Women Speak" event on May 29 in Chillicothe. (Kari Gunter-Seymour)

“Women Speak 2015″ Performance Headed to Chillicothe


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PVG Artisans Gallery in Chillicothe is set to host the 6th Annual Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) Women Speak 2015 performance on May 29. The event includes juried poetry, story and song from artists throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Manuscript submissions for this year’s event were juried by two seasoned regional writers. Deni Naffziger Hackworth is a poet and member of the creative writing faculty at Hocking College in Nelsonville. Naffziger Hackworth’s collection of poetry, Desire to Stay, was recently published by Stockport Flats. Also serving is Sherri Babcock Saines, poet and Womens Studies reference librarian at Ohio University.

After a rousing April performance at ARTS/West in Athens, the 20-member troupe is gearing up for a road trip to Chillicothe. WOAP founder/creator Kari Gunter-Seymour is looking forward to expanding Women Speak’s audience.

“The additional venue in the Chillicothe area extends the opportunity to further advance the WOAP mission,” she explained. “Many people have an image of an Appalachian woman, and they look down on her. WOAP encourages participation from women of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to come together to embrace the stereotype, to show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her.”

Poet Sarah Diamond Burroway agreed, saying that living in Northeast Kentucky has given her a strong sense of self, family and home.

“As a writer, I feel called to share stories of home so the world can see my beautiful Appalachia and her people, show the world that really, our differences are what unify us,” she said.

Vicki Pritchard, an essayist whose work draws from her memories and experiences, claimed that women with Appalachian roots have learned to survive in their own unique way.

“My life in Appalachia started out in near poverty,” she said. “That reality keeps me level with, never above, and always respectful of other people.”

According to womenofappalachia.com, the mission of WOAP is “to showcase the way in which female artists respond to the Appalachian region as a source of inspiration”–a statement that rings true for Athens-area singer/songwriter Megan Wormz Benz.

“Appalachia is a refuge,” she said. “I keep coming home here.”

The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a short reception immediately following the performance and artists will be available for conversation and discussion. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information go to www.womenofappalachia.com or visit WOA on Facebook. For questions, email womenofappalachia@gmail.com.