Authors go Over the Edge to share their work

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Two local authors soon will be on their way to Galway, Ireland, for the Over the Edge Writers’ Gathering.

The event features writers from Ireland and abroad, and allows attendees to hear them read their published work in person.

Ron Houchin, of South Point, and Art Stringer, of Huntington, along with their friend Patrick Estep, of Proctorville, will leave the United States May 11 and travel to Galway to read their work on May 13. This is the 19th trip Houchin, a retired English and creative writing teacher of Fairland High School, has taken to Ireland.

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“It’s an international reading series,” Houchin said. “They’re bringing international readers to read in various places.” Houchin and Stringer were invited to read at The Kitchen @ the Museum for Over the Edge.

“I’ll be reading from at least four of my five books,” Houchin said. “Three of them were published in Ireland.” His latest book is called “Museum Crows.” He said he writes short stories, essays and poetry.

“Anything that strikes my fancy,” Houchin said. He said much of his stories come from tales he would share with his students during the last five minutes of class to give the students and himself a break before the next class. He said the stories were mostly exaggerations of things that happened to him from his childhood.

Houchin said he has been writing on and off since the seventh grade. He has 33 book manuscripts waiting for a publisher. “It’s kind of a sad confession,” he said.

Stringer, a Marshall University professor of English and creative writing, is excited to go back to Ireland as well. This is his fifth trip.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Stringer said. “Ron and I have read in Galway a couple of years ago, so we hope to see a lot of the people and some new ones. We love the area.”

Stringer’s specialty is poetry.

“I’ve got a couple of poetry collections,” Stringer said. “This most recent one, like Ron’s, was produced by Salmon Poetry in Ireland- ‘Human costume.’” He has been writing for 43 years.

Stringer can sum up what he wants to accomplish with his writing.

“Mostly I would say I try to explore two themes people often think are opposites- nature and science on the one hand and people on the other hand,” Stringer said. “I try to bridge that long gap.”

Stringer added that, with his writing, he tries to keep a sense of humor about serious things.

Stringer and Houchin have a love for Ireland.

“I go every chance I get,” Houchin said. “If I hadn’t gone to Europe so many times, I’d be wealthy.”

“For me, listening to the people speak, the way they use language and their accent, it’s wonderful,” Stringer said.

“The second thing is the island itself. It’s a combination of raw nature and great long history. Everywhere you turn, there is something to involve yourself in, the landscape itself or the history and culture.”