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2024 New River Gorge Creative Residency

November 16, 2023

A smiling Odana Chaney (the 2024 New River Gorge Creative-in-Residence) with bright orange hair stands in front of shelf full of Blenko glass.

Odana Chaney of Culloden, West Virginia has been selected as the 2024 New River Gorge Creative-in-Residence. A writer, Odana will spend the entire month of January living and working at Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals in downtown Fayetteville, WV.

For the past nine years, we have hosted the New River Gorge Creative Residency, a program that supports the development of creative people by providing a unique opportunity for at least one creative person each winter to live and work on an artistic project at Lafayette Flats. We are proud to host Odana as the tenth!

Chaney is a sixth-ish generation Appalachian and storyteller. She has been finding poetry and building homes in the blank spaces of early mornings and late nights outside her day jobs for over a decade. Her work appears alongside many powerful contemporary voices in the Women of Appalachia Project’s anthology Women Speak Volumes 3 and 6, About Place Journal Vol. V Issue II, and elsewhere– including wrapped around Rolling Pepperoni’s pepperoni rolls. She studied Writing at the University of Pittsburgh where she found her voice, but forgot to graduate. She writes about dirt, duality, and dearness.

The 2024 New River Gorge Creative-in-Residence Odana Chaney wearing glasses and smiling at the camera with a rose tatoo exposed on her right sholder.

Odana caught our eye with these lines on her New River Gorge Creative Residency application: “My grandfather always said that land is the one thing they aren’t making any more of – but I’ve always felt that time, good, useful time, is just as scarce. It’s a funny feeling to have been given such a great, big world to make sense of but only a handful of decades to do it. Once you add into the mix being born the final entry into the sixth generation of my family in Appalachia, you can’t help but to laugh and meet that challenge head-on and heart-full.”

In support of her application, one of her references wrote: “Every word Ms. Chaney writes is honest and accessible to anyone who sat around a dinner table and wanted to be anywhere else. Yet, even when she describes pain or sorrow, there is beauty and a sense of hope. If home and heart are inseparable, it makes sense why Odana Chaney’s is so deeply rooted in West Virginia.”

We too find Odana’s writing to be heartfelt and moving, and exactly in tune with our mission of providing an alternative narrative of contemporary West Virginia.

Congratulations, Odana! We can’t wait to host you at Lafayette Flats!

Update: Each year we ask our Creative-in-Residence to share with us in writing reflections of their time at Lafayette Flats. This year’s resident, Odana Chaney, sent us a beautiful but heart-wrenching reflection that shows how difficult it can be for an artist to set aside time to be creative because life — and death — doesn’t put itself on hold while we toil. We wanted to share Odana’s reflection as she wrote it, but with an advisory message that it deals with the loss of a beloved pet. ⁠You can read her entire essay here:

Learn more about past New River Gorge Creative Residents:

2023 – Creative Community (Hannah Watter, Nicole Westfall, Brian Michael Reed)

2022 – Michele Sons, L. Renee, Nevada Tribble

2021 – Jessica Sands, Amy Pabst

2020 – Matt Browning, Carly Thaw, Kimberly Trathen

2019 – Rosalie Haizlett

2018 – Dr. Wendy Welch

2017 – Kathleen Jacobs

2016 – Mary Ann Henry

2015 – Eric Shonkwiler

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