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Leigh Ann Henion

October 13, 2022 | 6:00 pm

This event is co-sponsored by Appalachian Journal and The Schaefer Center Presents series
Environmental writer and 2022 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Leigh Ann Henion is the New York Times bestselling author of Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World. The book is about how she chased eclipses, migrations, and other natural phenomena around the globe to reawaken her sense of wonder. Phenomenal was named an editor’s pick by O: The Oprah Magazine, Backpacker, and Barnes & Noble Review.

Her forthcoming book, The Wilderness of Possibility: A Journey to Appreciate the Living Marvels of Darkness, will be published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. The Publishers Marketplace Deal Report describes it as “A [nonfiction narrative] exploration of the night found in our own backyards—from blooming moon gardens to glowing foxfire to synchronous fireflies—making a case for embracing darkness as a fundamental and profoundly beautiful part of the world we inhabit.”

Henion’s writing has appeared in Smithsonian, Garden & Gun, Men’s Journal, Southern Living, and The Washington Post Magazine, among other publications. She has received a variety of accolades for her work, including multiple Lowell Thomas Awards, and her stories have been noted in The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Sports Writing, and The Best American Science & Nature Writing. An Alicia Patterson Fellow for 2020, Henion lives in Boone, North Carolina.

Henion will serve as the 2022-23 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State in Fall 2022.


Even a cynic reading Phenomenal will yearn for a taste of wonder, because it…reminds us that we are all made of stardust. Sydney Morning Herald

Part travel memoir, part parenting manifesto, and part inquiry into those fleeting, extraordinary glimpses of something that left us groping for rational explanations in the quicksand of all-encompassing wonder. O: The Oprah Magazine

A story of courage and strength, Henion’s words conjure up the stardust of the ages, relating to all readers why we must adventure, leave our comfort zones, and discover the world anew…Henion pursues her quest with great integrity, and in turn, the reader does too, as we begin to see the mysticism and the true inherent wonder in her world—and in ours…Henion’s text brings with it new questions and understandings, an alternative way of learning and being in the world. It is not just a telling, it is an un-telling. —Literary Mama

FREE and open to the public

Thursday, October 13

Craft Talk: 3:30-4:45pm
Book sales will follow each event.

Plemmons Student Union 201B, Table Rock Room

Susan Weinberg at weinbergsc@appstate.edu

PARKING is free on campus after 5pm. We recommend the College Street Deck (from King Street, turn down College Street at the First Baptist Church). To reach the Student Union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the Post Office and entering the Student Union on the second floor. For further parking information or a map, please see www.parking.appstate.edu.


The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of the late Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), a 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service award recipient, past member of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and ASU Foundation, long time member of the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Board and generous supporter of Appalachian State University.


  • The Gideon Ridge Inn
  • Hellbender Bed and Beverage


  • Appalachian Journal
  • Appalachian State University Foundation, Inc.
  • Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs
  • Belk Library
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Department of English
  • The Schaefer Center Presents
  • University Bookstore


  • Thomas McLaughlin
  • Alice Naylor
  • Paul and Judy Tobin


October 13, 2022
6:00 pm
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Plemmons Student Union
201-B Plemmons Student Union + Google Map