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See the photos and lengthy interview of childhood friends Elaine, Vanda Galen, and Dexter Alexander at photojournalist Malcolm J. Wilson's Humans of Central Appalachia website.

Elaine Fowler Palencia, of Champaign, IL, grew up in Morehead, KY and Cookeville, TN. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate in English of Vanderbilt University, she is the author of six books of fiction, four genre romances and two literary short story collections, as well as three chapbooks of poetry and numerous essays and book reviews. She has lectured at many workshops and at universities where her work is studied. Her work has appeared in such journals as Appalachian Heritage, Appalachian Journal, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, South Carolina Review, Still, Willow Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Literary Mama, Pentimento, and Crossroads: A Southern Culture Annual, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, River Styx, Bluegrass Now, Tipton Poetry Journal, and many others, including such anthologies as Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers, Appalachia Inside Out, Piano in a Sycamore: Writing Lessons from the Appalachian Writers' Workshop, and the fifteenth anniversary retrospective of Iowa Woman.< She was named the 2004 Passager Poet and has received seven Pushcart Prize nominations, two for fiction and five for poetry. She is the book review editor of Pegasus, the journal of the Kentucky State Poetry Society. With her husband Michael Palencia-Roth, she has translated and published poems by the Colombian writer William Ospina. Her reviews have appeared in such periodicals as Library Journal, the American Book Review, Gently Read Literature, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and at

Along with Mary McCormack, Frank Modica, John Palen, and Pat Simpson, she was a founding member of the Quintessential Poets of Champaign-Urbana. She is also the moderator of the Red Herring Fiction Workshop, a community group founded in 1980 and sponsored by the Channing-Murray Foundation.

Elaine's monograph, The Literary Heritage of Hindman Settlement School, was published in summer 2017. A book about her great-great grandfather's Civil War service, "On Rising Ground:The Life and Letters of John M. Douthit, 52nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, CSA" will be published by Mercer University Press in 2020. Her third short story collection, "Riding the Devil"s Bicycle," is seeking a publisher.

Elaine's books are for sale on, through her publishers, and at these stores:

Marie Stewart Gift Shop, Hindman Settlement School campus, Hindman KY

Bookstore of the Jesse Stuart Foundation, Ashland KY