The Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia (WCoNA) is hosting Pittsburgh: The Paris of Northern Appalachia, a regional writers event, at Duquesne University Friday, March 11, through Sunday, March 13.

With a focus on building recognition for the region's literature and helping its writers hone their craft, the conference will include special discussions on how Pittsburgh fits into the greater region's literary landscape.

Among the event's featured presenters and guests are:

  • Lee Gutkind, author of more than 30 books who is described by Vanity Fair as "the Godfather behind creative nonfiction"
  • Kathleen George, author of numerous thrillers set in Pittsburgh
  • Ken Gormley, president of Duquesne University and author of The Heiress of Pittsburgh
  • Mary O'Shan "Shan" Overton, poet, essayist and scholar who has taught writing for 30 years
  • Gabriel Welsch, author of four collections of poems and the recently published Groundscratchers, a collection of short stories.

The WCoNA also will include 24 workshops and presentations on topics such as writing historical fiction, finding your voice, Pittsburgh authors, book reviews, magical realism in Appalachia, storytelling, character development and writing about place.

According to WCoNA founder and president PJ Piccirillo, a novelist from Elk County, writers from or writing about the region of northern Appalachia haven't been distinguished with a regional identity as have those from other parts of the nation. The diversity of its peoples, places, cultures and landscapes are uniquely inspiring.

"We believe the stories, poems and essays these qualities inspire deserve to be represented and valued as a body of work," Piccirillo said. "We want people to have better access to this outstanding literature, encouraging a greater market for our writers through increased demand from our booksellers and more interest from agents and publishers."

The WCoNA is a catalyst to inspire more novels, poetry, essays, history, memoir and drama that represent, in some way, northern Appalachia, and so create and promote a canon of writers and writing of northern Appalachia. Visit for more information.

This program was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The Universitys academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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March 09, 2022