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Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Suitcase Charlie: A Recommended Crime Thriller

     John Guzlowski is a writer and poet whose parents were forced laborers in Poland during WW II. He was born in a refugee camp before he came with his family to live in the Polish neighborhoods of Chicago. Already a highly regarded poet, he turned his childhood memories (including some gruesome child murders) into a novel titled SUITCASE CHARLIE.    Two war-weary Chicago detectives investigate a series of horrifying child murders. Before the crimes are solved, the reader follows the…See More
8 hours ago
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

Mammy, A Term of Endearment

I read Rob Neufield's article Visit OUR PAST in today's Asheville Citizen-Times.It was a super article, but caused me to want to share my novel:  Mammy: A Term of Endearment.Mammy: A Term of Endearment. is now available as an ebook on Kindle, but the publisher, Ecanus Publishing, Great Britain tells me the paperback edition will be out soon (2 to 3 weeks).The novel is fiction but came from my father who was born in 1895. Due to his mother's sickness Grandpa hired her to be a Mammy to my father,…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Shannon Quinn-Tucker posted an event
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Writers on the Rock at Chimney Rock, NC

June 28, 2015 from 1pm to 4pm
The culture and heritage of Appalachia is an experience like no other, and it serves as the perfect backdrop for a variety of storytelling. View the soaring cliffs and stunning valleys of Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge as you get to know your favorite author and meet new ones. Join Ann B. Ross, Tommy Hays, Sheri Castle, Evan Williams and more as they share their experiences and autograph copies of their books. A selection of titles by each author will be available for sale. See…See More
Jun 8
Lockie Hunter updated an event
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West End Prose and Poetry reading series: June at West End Bakery

June 13, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm
The West End Bakery & Café will host the final event for the 2015 Spring Poetry and Prose Reading Series on Saturday, June 13th at 7:00 pm. The June event will feature an excellent cast of local writers including David Novak, Katherine (Bonnie) Soniat, Luke Hankins and our very own hostess and curator Lockie Hunter.Past readings included a special holiday performance by Allan Wolf as well as local writers such as Susan Reinhardt, Tommy Hays, Tom Chalmers, Matthew Olzmann, Alli Marshall,…See More
Jun 8
Lockie Hunter posted an event
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West End Prose and Poetry reading series: June at West End Bakery

June 13, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm
The West End Bakery & Café will host the final event for the 2015 Spring Poetry and Prose Reading Series on Saturday, June 13th at 7:00 pm. The June event will feature an excellent cast of local writers including David Novak, Katherine (Bonnie) Soniat, Luke Hankins and our very own hostess and curator Lockie Hunter.Past readings included a special holiday performance by Allan Wolf as well as local writers such as Susan Reinhardt, Tommy Hays, Tom Chalmers, Matthew Olzmann, Alli Marshall,…See More
Jun 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri--and book discussions

How Lahiri’s “The Lowland” excites discussionby Rob Neufeld             When an American woman in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, “The Lowland,” realizes how she has, in her mind, objectified a certain childhood horror, she flashes to her Calcutta grandma, who “used to spend her days overlooking a lowland, a pair of…See More
Jun 2
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Jun 2
Tina Barr posted a blog post

Sharing Information

Iris Press just released a new book of my poems, Kaleidoscope!  These are poems written over the last 10 years, set in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina---!See More
Jun 2
Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Hiking the Landscape of JHATOR

I just posted a new blog entry describing the real places frequented by my characters--human and animal--in my novel. Most of the action in JHATOR takes place in these beautiful natural spaces that are protected throughout southeastern Massachusetts. Whether you have read my book or not, I hope you will visit them if you are traveling through the area.You can read "Hiking the Landscape of JHATOR" as well as excerpts from my novel, at Christine-lajewski.squarespace.comSee More
Jun 1
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Kathryn Byer & Richard Krawiec Joint Poetry Reading at City Lights Bookstore

June 14, 2015 from 1pm to 2:30pm
Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Kathryn Byer and Richard Krawiec will be reading from their new collections of poetry on Sunday, June 14th at 1 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Kathryn’s new chapbook from Jacar Press, The Vishnu Bird, is both a memorial and memoir in lyric poetry. This clean-spoken, deeply-felt chapbook remembers the poet’s dear friend by tracing his vocation of anthropology, and honoring his spiritual depth through vignettes from the speaker’s own past. Richard Krawiec will…See More
May 30
Glenda Council Beall posted an event
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Steven Harvey at Writers Circle at Writers Circlle around the Table

June 27, 2015 from 10am to 1pm
Writing workshop with Steve Harvey, retired professor at YHC and on faculty for Ashland University MFA.See More
May 30
Ron Cooper replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash
"Terrific review and interview, Rob. Glad to see that Ron had full control over this collection. All of his work deserves to be read and re-read."
May 28
Kathryn Stripling Byer updated their profile
May 28

Olive Tilford Dargan, great writer, took refuge in Almond

Literature survived loss for a great mountain writer

by Rob Neufeld

 

            In the late 1930s, children in the Swain County town of Almond saw an old bag lady walking around, muttering to herself.

            The woman was the celebrated playwright, poet, and novelist Olive Tilford Dargan.  The bag contained gifts she gave out to local kids.  The muttering was poems she recited in the act of composition.

            Perhaps one of the poems she was turning in her head was “Annie’s Garden,” which appeared in “The Spotted Hawk” years later.  It expressed the solace Dargan had taken in her West Asheville refuge, Bluebonnet Lodge (located at the end of Balsam Avenue, since razed) before having to leave it for a while because of dark clouds of suspicion.

 

The rain it raineth every day

From skies of wrath and rue,

But I’ve a garden where I play

Whatever skies may do.

 

            While living in West Asheville, Dargan had published the novel “Call Home the Heart,” and its sequel, “A Stone Came Rolling,” in which the author had followed her beloved mountain characters to the mills in Gastonia, wrote about it, and gotten labeled a proletarian writer.

            She used a pseudonym, Fielding Burke, but a New York reviewer blabbed her identity.

            The folks in Almond saw Dargan as a person, and not as a public figure.  They loved her short stories about them, published first as “Highland Annals” and republished with Bayard Wootten photos as “From my Highest Hill.”

            “Nobody knew anything about it and no one cared,” Almond resident Sylvia Latshaw recollected about Dargan’s blacklisting.  “We weren’t even reading the daily papers.  We don’t get them out there.  And we didn’t have time to read them if we did.  There she (Dargan) stayed until the hue and cry died down.”

            Eventually, Dargan returned to Bluebonnet Lodge.   She lived there for thirty more years, dying in 1968 at age ninety-nine.

            In 1944, Dargan sold her Almond land, and loggers stripped it of trees.   At the same time, the Tennessee Valley Authority was flooding much of low-lying Almond to construct Fontana Dam.

            At age 87, Dargan published two more books, including the award-winning volume, “The Spotted Hawk.”

            In her last years, Dargan sold a couple her Bluebonnet House with the stipulation that she could continue to live on the top floor.  Though she willed her papers and library to the University of Kentucky at Lexington, her native home, her death was followed by the accidental disposal of her material.

            Dargan is buried in Green Hills Cemetery in West Asheville.  A state highway historical marker was erected in front of the West Asheville Library in 2000.

            Her legacy is her published work.  One poem in “The Spotted Hawk,” titled, “Vain Rescue,” imagines her death amid woodland wonders:

 

But rising now no inner fires outflow,

No gleam around me save a pale moon’s haze.

I know a wood of beech and birch and snow

That waits my step.  And come the June-warm days,

Where two brooks wed I’ll find a lulling seat,

And stir white pebbles with my slow, bare feet.

 

BOX

A thirty-page account of Dargan’s life and career by Neufeld appeared in “May We All Remember Well, Vol. II,” with twenty photographs.

 

PHOTO CAPTION

Olive Tilford Dargan’s grave in Green Hills Cemetery

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Replies to This Discussion

Rob --As a native of Swain County, I've always been fascinated by Olive Tilford Dargan.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about this unusual woman--local folks described her, accurately, as "quair"--was the manner in which she managed to become close with folks living in the Round Top area.  Her political and social views were in many ways about as far removed from those of the local folks as one could imagine, yet she got on quite well with her neighbors.  I've got a world of Dargan lore stored away in my feeble mind and have writte about her a bit, but sharing one anecdote will give a good indication of her scatterbrained nature.  It was passed on to me by my good fishing buddy, Marty Maxwell, who is also a fine source of Graham County history and lore as well as an authority on Horace Kephart.  His mother grew up at Almond and knew Dargan quite well.

One morning Dargan stopped by the house where Maxwell's mother lived (this was when she was a child and long before she married) and asked if the young girl wanted to go to town (Bryson City) with her.  Amazingly, she was adamant about not wanting to go, never mind that a trip to town was usually considered a great treat.  Finally her mother took her in another room and asked her what in the world was wrong with her.  "Momma," the young girl said, "I don't want to go with her because she has her dress on backwards."  Such was indeed the case.

On a different note, Rob, thanks for sharing my tribute to Dad.  His 101 years were full and for the most part joyful ones, and except for the first five of them (he was born in Clay County) and two short spates of work away from the mountains before he married, he spent all of them in Swain County.  That included a boyhood growing up truly "back of beyond" in what is now the Park.

Jim Casada 

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