Jolene McIlwainThe Indiana University of Pennsylvania Libraries will host local writer Jolene McIlwain, an English Department graduate of IUP, for a lunch and learn event on October 20, in celebration of the National Day of Writing.

McIlwain, the author of Sidle Creek, will share her journey from IUP student to published author during the program, which will be held at the Allenwood, located on the lower level of Ackerman Hall.

The program begins at 11:30 a.m. Cost is $8 per person. Reservations are suggested but not required and can be made online on the IUP website or by calling 724-357-2626.

The menu for the lunch is “Coal Miner Favorites” and is prepared and served by students in IUP’s Hospitality Management program who manage and operate the Allenwood as part of the Hospitality Management curriculum.

McIlwain grew up and currently lives in Kittanning, in a close-knit, working-class community. As a student at IUP, she was inspired by her English professors to consider a career as a writer. With the publication of Sidle Creek (published by Melville House), a short story collection that takes place in a fictional working-class, small town in western Pennsylvania, she continues that journey.  

In her presentation, McIlwain will share how she learned the importance of voice, oral storytelling, and historical research, as well as how to render scenes of rural America in ways that interrogate and upend small-town stereotypes, in various IUP classrooms and libraries as part of her writing journey.

Cover of "Sidle Creek"

This Lunch and Learn is sponsored by the Mary Jane Schafer Endowment and IUP Libraries and is the most recent in the Schafer Speaker Series.

The National Day on Writing is organized by the National Council of Teachers of English.

Her book includes several Pushcart-nominated stories and has received a number of outstanding reviews.

McIlwain’s fiction appears widely in literary journals including West Branch, Florida Review, Cincinnati ReviewNew Orleans Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and in 2019’s Best Small Fictions Anthology. Her work was named a finalist for 2018’s Best of the Net, Glimmer Train and River Styx contests and a semifinalist in Nimrod’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize and two American Short Fiction contests. 

She received a Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council grant, the Georgia Court Chautauqua faculty scholarship, and Tinker Mountain’s merit scholarship. She has taught literary theory and analysis at Duquesne University and Chatham University, and she worked as a radiologic technologist before attending college.

She has both a bachelor’s degree in English secondary education with a minor in sculpture and a master’s degree in literature from IUP. She was a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project’s Southcentral Pennsylvania Writing Project chapter at IUP and a member of NCTE while attending IUP.