Everywhere Stories Contributor Spotlight: William Kelley Woolfitt

Contributor William Kelley Woolfitt’s story, “Jackal Weather,” is set in Lebanon. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

William Kelley Woolfitt is the author of the poetry collections Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014) and Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016). His fiction chapbook The Boy with Fire in His Mouth (2014) won the Epiphany Editions contest. His poems and stories have appeared in Blackbird, Image, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Epoch, and other journals. He is the recipient of the Howard Nemerov Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Denny C. Plattner Award from Appalachian Heritage.

William Kelley Woolfitt’s comment on “Jackal Weather”—I wanted to write a story about George Rashid, the so-called Pickens Leper, a peddler who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1902. According to reports, Rashid was detained in Maryland by railroad employees who thought his disease made him dangerous; the railroad company transported him to its most isolated station, the village of Pickens in the mountains of West Virginia. An enclosure was built to quarantine Rashid in Pickens; possibly, he was kept there against his will. Then I drifted away from Rashid’s biography and my first intentions. I instead wrote about a family whose son immigrates. Before writing about the geographical remoteness and enclosure walls that might erase a man like Rashid, I think I had to write about losing sight and gaining vision, about absence and presence and how they mingle, overlap, may start to resemble one other.

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