Writer, political advocate Ann Pancake speaks at Willamette Nov. 5

by University Communications,

Ann Pancake grew up in Appalachia, a cultural region in the eastern United States. She writes about political subject matters, and she uses a unique lyrical style.

For these reasons, English professor Scott Nadelson says Pancake is unlike any other writer who will visit Willamette this year.

“Her language is unique and poetic, her characters vulnerable and authentic,” says Nadelson, chairman of the Hallie Ford Literary Series. “She both speaks and writes about the possibilities of fiction as a vehicle for political advocacy.”

Pancake will read to the Willamette and Salem community Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library. After the reading, audience members will have the opportunity to ask Pancake questions and purchase her works.

“I expect listeners to hear how vital an art form fiction can be, how deeply needed in our particular moment, and how story can put us in the minds and hearts of people whose lives are very different from ours and yet make us feel as they do,” Nadelson says.

Pancake has written several books, including “Strange As This Weather Has Been.”

The novel, which explores the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal mining, was one of Kirkus Review’s Top Ten Fiction Books of 2007. It won the 2007 Weatherford Prize, and it was a finalist for both the 2008 Orion Book Award and the 2008 Washington State Book Award.

During the lecture, Pancake will read from her most recent collection, “Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley,” scheduled for publication in February.

The collection is set in Appalachia and involves people intensely connected to their land. It also explores the socio-economic and environmental issues that result from mountaintop removals and strip mining.

Pancake says she uses her writing to bring awareness to issues that people tend to ignore.

“I think learning about them in fiction gives the reader a different kind of view on the issues,” she says. “I hope the audience gets both a sense of how art can be used politically and as a window onto some class issues.”

• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French/Francophone studies major