Kate Osana Simonian of Texas Tech University has been selected to serve as the inaugural Writer-in-Residence for the month of June at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Educational Center. She will spend time in residence at the museum and serve as a mentor for other writers at the museum’s June writers’ retreat.
“We are thrilled to have Kate with us this summer,” Museum Director Adam Long said. “The selection committee and I felt that she is a great fit for our community, and we can’t wait to work with her.”
Simonian is an Armenian-Australian essayist, short story writer and novelist from Sydney, Australia. She is on a presidential fellowship at Texas Tech, where she is completing a doctoral degree in creative writing. She holds a master of fine arts degree in fiction from Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Technology Sydney.
Her work has been published by, or is forthcoming in, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Post Road, The Chicago Tribune, and Best Australian Stories. She has won various honors, including the Nelson Algren Award, a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Tennessee Williams scholarship to Sewanee Writers Conference.
Along with acting as an associate editor for Iron Horse, she is the fiction editor for Opossum: A Literary Marsupial, a journal on the intersection of literature and music.
In addition to serving as a mentor for the June retreat, Simonian will spend the month working on her own writing in the barn studio where Ernest Hemingway penned portions of “A Farewell to Arms.” She will also live in a loft apartment on the Piggott Square.
Hemingway, who wrote other classics such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” and “The Sun Also Rises,” visited Piggott many times during the the late 1920s and 1930s. His second wife, Pauline’s family lived in Piggott. She was working as journalist for Vogue in Paris when she met Hemingway. She was friends with Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, but it wasn’t long before an affair simmered between Hemingway and her, according to historical accounts. He divorced Hadley and married Pauline in 1927.
The couple moved from Paris to Key West, Fla. They spent months at a time big game hunting in the western United States. In the fall, they would return to Pauline’s family home in Piggott. Hemingway loved to write in the barn loft, so the family turned it into an office, Long said.
The famed writer’s first trip to Arkansas wasn’t pleasant, he said. A scorching heat wave blistered the area. Hemingway wrote about how intolerable it was, Jones said. He had about 200 pages of “A Farewell to Arms” written when he arrived in Piggott. Subsequent trips were in the fall and the weather was more to his liking, the director said.
Hemingway spent much of his time in Piggott writing, but he also enjoyed quail hunting, and commented about how good his hunts were in this part of the state, Jones said.