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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.



Latest Activity

Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event

Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion


I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds, disabling…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28, 2018

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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