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SCC Professor Publishes Book of Poetry

Wanda Fries
Wanda Fries, professor of English at Somerset Community College, will be celebrating the release of her first book of poetry, Cassandra Among the Greeks, with a book reading, signing and reception at Cedar Creek Vineyards on April 28 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Artwork for the cover was done by the late Kim del Re.
Cassandra cover
Wanda Fries, a professor of English at Somerset Community College, has just released her first book of poetry, entitled Cassandra Among the Greeks. The book, a collection of poems written around the theme of the difficulty of understanding each other and living compassionately in the world, was published through a grant from the Cornelia Dozier Cooper Foundation. An official book release, signing and reception will be held on April 28 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Cedar Creek Vineyards, located at 294 Cedar Creek Lane in Somerset.

Cassandra Among the Greeks began to take shape in July 2011 when Fries was awarded the grant from the Cooper Foundation. Cornelia Cooper has a long-term relationship with Somerset Community College and the Cooper building on campus is named for her late husband Richard Cooper. During a reading at the annual Arnow Conference on Appalachian Literature and Culture, Cornelia Cooper heard Fries work and encouraged her to apply for the grant. Many of the poems had been previously published, but poems for the final book had to be selected, arranged, and edited. The final piece to fall in place was permission to use artwork by the late Kim del Re, who studied at SCC, for the cover.

Whatever the weaknesses and strengths of the poetry, said Fries, with Kims cover, the book is one of the most beautiful Ive seen.

Still, Fries notes, I was terrified through the process. Ive published poems and stories, but never a stand-alone work.

Now, Fries hopes to make the process easier for other writers. She is in the process of creating Ginkgo Leaf Press, a small press that will seek to help other writers pursue publication.

Although each poem in the book has special meaning, Fries said one of her favorites is entitled My Black Dog.

We all have a black dog, she says, some part of ourselves we wish we were shed of. But we have to learn how to value what our weaknesses can teach us.

Fries, of Somerset, writes both poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies including The Michigan Quarterly Review, Sojourners, New Southerner, Appalachian Heritage, and The River City Review. She earned an MFA from Bennington College. A Breadloaf scholar, she twice received an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and has won a number of individual awards for her writing.

Fries currently teaches Greek and Roman Mythology and freshman English composition at SCC. Teaching, along with working to publish the book, was a fun but exhaustive process, she said. The support of her husband Denny, a geologist, allowed her to be creative and pursue the dream, she said.

The reading and signing for Cassandra Among the Greeks will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on April 28. Light hors de ourves and iced tea will be provided and wine will be available for purchase. Music by Kevin and Robin Dalton of Faubush Hill will begin at 3 p.m., the reading at 4:15 p.m. and the book signing afterward. The book, normally priced at $12 will be $10 at the event. The event is sponsored by Watershed Arts Alliance and Cedar Creek Vineyards.

For those unable to attend the signing, the book can also be purchased through Amazon.com, at the Morris Book Shop in Lexington, Kentucky, Cedar Creek Vineyards gift shop and Pine Cone Primitives.

I am so grateful to Mrs. Cooper for her support and encouragement. This grant has opened up so many opportunities for me to create and share my work.

Fries first novel, Ash Grove, will be coming out later this year.