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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.



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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page:"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to"
Sep 22
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Sep 21
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And"
Sep 20
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Sep 19
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion


RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
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Sep 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming Rides

Upcoming Rides(Part of Living Poem) I must take a break from writing aboutThe third Lord Granville’s loss of landIn colonial North Carolina to noteI’m losing functionality in my hands. I’m confining my writing to a four-line,Alternate rhyme form, like a horse-fenceFraming a pantomimeOf equine force.  Hence, It’s time to imagine the power of mind,For instance, when a nod or thoughtInstructs a machine to…See More
Aug 26

Smoky Mountain Magic by Horace Kephart, with a foreword by Libby Kephart Hargrave and introduction by George Ellison (Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2009, 205 pages; paperback $12.95, hardcover, $19.95)

George Ellison review for Asheville Citizen-Times, below
See Gary Carden review on his blog, Holler Notes

Rediscovered Kephart novel makes big contribution to Great Smokies lore
by George Ellison

I have been researching and writing about Horace Kephart’s life and work for just under forty years. I wrote the biographical introduction for the book under review, “Smoky Mountain Magic,” published exactly 80 years after the author’s final typescript had apparently been completed.

The emergence of the novel is a major literary and cultural event. It coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP)—which Kephart helped found. It appears shortly after Kephart’s depiction as a central figure in the Great Smokies segment of Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

How Kephart got here

Kephart arrived in the Great Smokies in 1904, having left behind a wife, six children, and a botched career as a librarian in St. Louis. All the details that sparked this midlife crisis are not fully known or agreed upon, but it’s widely recognized that alcoholism was a contributing factor.

Seeking a “Back of Beyond,” he became preoccupied with a literary career while living in a setting similar to the one experienced by his pioneer ancestors in Pennsylvania. He anticipated that residing in and writing about such a place and its people might become part of a healing process.

From 1904 until 1907, he lived alone in a cabin on Hazel Creek in the present day national park. From 1910 until his death in an automobile accident in 1931, he resided in a boardinghouse on Main Street just off the town square in Bryson City.

Kephart and the park

Against considerable odds, Kephart has become the writer most closely associated in the national consciousness with the GSMNP. His “Camping and Woodcraft” is securely established as one of the cornerstones of American outdoor writing. “Our Southern Highlanders” (published, 1913; expanded, 1922) stands as one of the classics of southern Appalachian and American regional literature, though there is debate in some quarters.

Libby Kephart Hargrave, Kephart’s great-granddaughter, relates in her foreword that the 1929 typescript of “Smoky Mountain Magic” had been preserved by Laura Kephart (Horace’s wife). After Laura’s death in 1954, it was passed down in the family to Libby’s father, who gave the manuscript to her in 1997.

This past May, at a national park anniversary celebration honoring her great-grandfather, she met park superintendent Dale Ditmanson and mentioned her intention to contact publishers. Ditmanson asked if she had considered the Great Smoky Mountains Association as a publisher. Four months later, here it is, generating funds to benefit the park.

A novel with local names

While fighting for the park in the 1920s, Kephart labored over his novel. Plot and characters varied from draft to draft more often than not. Yet, the 1929 text of nearly 73,000 words is surprisingly cohesive—in large part because Kephart finally rooted the story in a specific setting.

All of the action takes place in June 1925 in Swain County in the Cherokee communities of either Soco or Big Cove—along the Deep Creek watershed in what became part of the park. Kephart gave it the name, “Kittuwa,” borrowed from the ancient Cherokee ceremonial mound and mother town located just east of Bryson City.

One of the pleasures of reading the novel is that almost every river, creek, road, ridge, and peak mentioned can be found on a map of the area. Not a few readers of this review will have already visited many of them.

The plot

“Smoky Mountain Magic” presents a Victorian-style romance with interrelated narratives of exploration and adventure. The heroine, Marian Wentworth, is a pretty young woman who is visiting relatives in Kittuwa and collecting plants for her college herbarium in Raleigh.

The protagonist, John Cabarrus, is modeled on the author, even though Kephart was quite a bit older than his fictional creation. The hero follows his grandfather, Abelard Dale, in his love of the natural world “on the old home-place” up Deep Creek near the Bryson Place.

He returns to renew himself and to locate mineral riches hinted at by his grandfather. He explores the rugged Nicks Nest watershed—a nearly impenetrable, boulder-strewn “V-shaped trough, three to four hundred feet deep”—that locals know as “Dog-eater Holler.” It was named after “a varmint that ain’t a rael animal, but a ha’nt, and cracks a dog’s bones and eats him alive [and] some says hit will devour a man, too.”

Like Indiana Jones pushing his luck, Cabarrus enters a secluded cave and becomes trapped. The situation seems hopeless. But never fear—“Maid Marian” and “Big Tom” Buford, a competent mountain woodsman who has befriended the young couple, arrive in the nick of time.

Contribution to our literature

In many delightful ways, “Smoky Mountain Magic” is remindful of the Boys’ Books of Adventure I read when I was young. Like author Stewart Edward White, Kephart places considerable emphasis on closely observed natural history and the virtues of outdoor living. Plus, he mixes in folklore: Uktenas, giant serpents with horns; ancient dragon images; Little People, Cherokee version of leprechauns; a “witch” named Old Hex; telepathy; and magic crystals.

The descriptions of the natural world encountered along Deep Creek are accurate and beautifully rendered at times, particularly during Cabarrus’ initial exploration of Nicks Nest. The sudden appearance of “Smoky Mountain Magic” adds to Kephart’s legacy with an important account of the life, lore, and landscapes of the pre-park Great Smoky Mountains.

Premiere Events
• The Kephart family and the Swain County Chamber of Commerce host a premiere party for “Smoky Mountain Magic” at the Calhoun House Hotel, Bryson City, 1 to 5 p.m. today. Author George Ellison; GSMNP Superintendant Dale Ditmanson; the publisher, Great Smoky Mountains Association; and Horace Kephart’s great-granddaughter, Libby Kephart Hargrave speak. The event also features a book-signing, music by Lee Knight, and refreshments. Call 488-3681. Visit and
• Gil’s Book Sale, 196 Everett St., Bryson City, provides a second book party, 12 to 4 p.m., Monday. It includes readings and a book signing by Libby Kephart Hargrave. Call 488-4457.
• Libby Kephart Hargrave reads from “Smoky Mountain Magic” and talks about bringing the manuscript to publication; and painter Elizabeth Ellison talks about her cover artwork at City Lights Bookstore, 3 E. Jackson St., Sylva, 7 p.m., Oct. 20 (586-9499).

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