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'Sunday with Friends' series announces guests through June

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After the Washington County Public Library’s “Sunday with Friends” series kicks off Jan. 12 with author Martin Clark, the library has events slated through June.

Ellen Elmes will be the visiting writer on Jan. 26. Elmes, one of western Virginia’s leading artists, has published a book about her 50-year life in art, “An Appalachian Labyrinth: Painting to the Center.” Elmes will give an illustrated lecture on her career, beginning in the 1960s, focused on her paintings and on the 20 community murals, on both indoor and outdoor walls, that she has created.

Scott County novelist Rita Quillen will be showcased on Feb. 16. She is the author of “Wayland,” a thriller about a couple who have married in mid-life and have a beautiful daughter. Their blissful life is interrupted by their naïvely taking in a hobo wanderer, Buddy Newman, who suddenly finds that this family has everything he needs, especially the most beautiful little girl he has ever seen.

Abingdon actress and fiber artist Quinn Hawkesworth will present “Fred Chappell: The Man Who Came to Dinner” on March 1. She will present selections from the North Carolina poet and novelist. Chappell taught creative writing at UNC-Greensboro for 40 years and for many years was the North Carolina poet laureate.

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On March 29, attendees can meet Julie Zickefoose, an acclaimed nature writer, wildlife rehabilitator and wildlife illustrator, discussing her new book, “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay.” Jemima was a young, orphaned blue jay who was brought to Zickefoose. Starved and very sick, Jemima thrives under her care, eventually taking over the house and the rest of the author’s summer as she gains strength to be released into the wild. Zickefoose is known for many other books and her commentary on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

“Sunday with Friends” always presents an annual poetry celebration. This year’s event April 5 features Jeff Mann, who co-edited “LGBTQ: Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia,” which gathers original and previously published fiction and poetry from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer authors from Appalachia. This collection confronts the complex intersections of place, family, sexuality, gender and religion with which LGBTQ Appalachians often grapple. Mann teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech. He will be joined in this celebration by local poets from Appalachian Center Poets & Writers.

On April 19, meet Francis Gary Powers Jr., who, with historian Keith Dunnavant, has written the book “Spy Pilot,” which tries to dispel the misinformation surrounding the U-2 incident during the Cold War when his father’s plane was downed in the Soviet Union and he was imprisoned. Powers is the founder of the Cold War Museum and was a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s recent “Bridge of Spies,” the film about his father’s release.

Lee Smith will be discussing her new book May 17. “Blue Marlin” follows Jenny, an adventurous 13-year-old, down to Key West for a patched-up family vacation following the discovery of her father’s illicit affair. Jenny confronts the frailty of family life while vying for the attention of actor Tony Curtis and even a role in his movie, “Operation Petticoat,” which is being filmed in Key West at the time.

The final event June 14 will feature Lisa Alther, a Kingsport native, who will talk about her new novel, “Swan Song.” Set on a cruise ship, the work is about a woman doctor in charge of the ship’s clinic, who is recovering from the loss of a longtime lover who was a much-admired writer. She has to cope with the chaos of the cruise ship life as she reckons with her past and feels her way into the future. Alther is the author of six novels including the bestseller “Kinflicks,” histories and a short story collection.

All events start at 3 p.m., and there will be book sales and signings after each of the events. For more information, call 276-676-6390.

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Related to this story

ABINGDON, Va. — Come hear Martin Clark.

The attorney is slated to be featured as the first “Sunday with Friends” event of 2020 at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon on Jan. 12 at 3 p.m.