HPMEC Writer in Residence Program Concludes for 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Writer-in-Residence Kate Osana Simonian (center) with HPMEC director Adam Long (left) and Cody Knight of Piggott State Bank. PSB underwrote the expenses for the first-time effort by the local museum.
courtesy photo

During the month of June, Kate Osana Simonian served as the inaugural Writer-in-Residence for the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, of Piggott. The position attracted candidates from across the country and included accommodations in the loft apartment above the Piggott City Market as well as a stipend to assist with travelling expenses. Museum officials noted the residency was made possible through the underwriting sponsorship of Piggott State Bank.

Simonian is an Armenian-Australian writer hailing from Sydney. Her work has been published in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, including in the Chicago Tribune and Best Australian Stories. Other honors include the Nelson Algren Award and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee Writer’s Conference.

As part of her duties, Simonian served as the writing mentor for the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Summer Writer’s Retreat, held June 4 to 8, and gave a reading in Hemingway’s historical barn-studio. The retreat attracted writers from Arkansas and other states and was a great success.

For the remainder of the month, she has been walking the town square and working on her novel. The novel, entitled Australialand, begins with the migration of Syrian-born Vartan to Sydney in the 1960s. Covering 100 years, the book follows Vartan as he marries an Australian, has four children, and watches these children have their own families. It is a story about the conflict between the individual and the group, race, colonization, aging and the shifting nature of identity in a globalized world.

Simonian has called the residency “a welcome writing haven” in summing-up the experience.

“Piggott may well be the best kept secret for writers across the US,” she continued. “The vibrant literary history has been a huge impetus for me. One feels inspired to do justice to Hemingway just being here. I’ve always been a fan, but staying in Piggott has made the literary giant real to me in a whole new way.”

The writer also noted the local residents played a role in making the experience a special one.

“The locals of Piggott are as kind as can be, and the folks at the museum have done everything they can to make this a fantastic experience,” she explained. “This residency is all set to become one of the most prestigious in the nation, and I’m floored to have been part of its first year.”

From Piggott, Simonian returns to her home in Lubbock, Tex., where she is at work on her English Dissertation at Texas Tech University. She aims to finish her novel by the end of the year and hopes the writer-in-residence position will become an annual addition to the literary life of Piggott.

HPMEC is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site at 1021 West Cherry Street in Piggott. Tours are on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Those wanting additional information may call them at 870 598-3487.

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