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.
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!
Learn more about past New River Gorge Creative Residents: