Four of a Kind: Mildred Barya talks local literary scene

Mildred Barya. Photo by Todd Crawford

Editor’s note: This is part of “Four of a Kind,” a new Arts & Culture feature. Each month, four new artists will share their takes on the local art scene. In addition to individual online posts, you can find all four features as a single spread in this week’s print edition.

Mildred Barya is an Asheville-based poet and an assistant professor of English at UNC Asheville.

Xpress: Is there an upcoming poetry/literary event happening in Asheville that you’re looking forward to attending?

Barya: My friend Jennifer McGaha is launching her new book, Bushwhacking: How to Get Lost in the Woods and Write Your Way Out, at Malaprop’s on Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. We started talking about the book’s publication when she was still writing some chapters a while back. It’s wonderful to complete such an engaging project and have the product in one’s hands.

Outside of literature, what other upcoming local arts happening intrigues you?

Story Parlor’s outstanding and inspiring events feature a diversity of artists giving performances in music, poetry, comedy, stories, film, theater and so on. I’m especially looking forward to their “Homeland”-themed event on Friday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m.

What current project are you working on that you’re especially excited about?

A collection of creative nonfiction essays about identity, belonging and the meaning of home, currently titled Being Here in This Body. While I don’t use the traditional travel narrative genre, the essays I’ve written so far move back and forth between Uganda and different places in the diaspora, exploring relations and social justice issues among humans and the natural world.

The content of this project keeps surprising me, and that’s what I’m mostly excited about. My interest is to locate personal stories within the larger body of narratives about geopolitical experiences of crossing borders and creating communities in new places, highlighting the joys, burdens and expectations that come with all of that. I’m still in the writing process but my poetry collection, The Animals of My Earth School, will be published in April.


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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