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Chaffin Award presentation set for March 12

Michael McFeeAppalachian writers have garnered greater attention and support while sharing their experiences with Morehead State students thanks to MSU’s Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. MSU’s Department of English is pleased to announce the 2018 award recipient is author Michael McFee.     

The awards presentation and reading are planned for Tuesday, March 12, from 5 to 6 p.m., at CoffeeTree Books in Morehead.    

Michael McFee, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an author who has previously received several awards for his writing. These include the James Still Award for Writing About the South, the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award for Poetry and the 2018 North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor. He has published 16 books, 11 volumes of poetry and two essay collections. His latest novel, 2017’s “We Were Once Here,” showcases McFee continuing to write inventive appreciations of often-overlooked subjects, particularly the people and language of his native Appalachia.  

Awarded by MSU’s Department of English, the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing was established in 1994 and has been awarded annually since 1996. It provides students the opportunity to interact with a published writer from the region. The award, which includes a cash prize of $1,000, recognizes outstanding Appalachian writers in all genres. During the award ceremony, writers read from their work and will often present a craft talk, teach a workshop or speak about writing as an Appalachian.

MSU associate professor of English and previous Chaffin Award recipient Chris Holbrook (1996) said this award shines a welcome spotlight on the authors who call Appalachia home.

“The Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award celebrates excellence in contemporary Appalachian writing by recognizing the accomplishments of some of the best fiction writers, poets and essayists the region has to offer,” he said.  

For more information on MSU’s Department of English, contact 606-783-9448, email or visit