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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 updated their profile
Apr 13
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Flat Rock history via a road

Visiting Our Pastby Rob Neufeld Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock road             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane path to I-26 a mile away in the opposite direction.           …See More
Apr 8
George Ellison left a comment for Renea Winchester
"luv ya Renea ... Kephart bio finally done after 40 years ... free at last ... free at last... great god almighty ... free a last!"
Apr 5
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Connie Regan-Blake Storytelling at Hendersonville Public Library at Henderson County Public Library - Main Branch

June 13, 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Join Connie Regan-Blake for a family oriented evening of stories at the Hendersonville Library.See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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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
Please 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.” Here are the tellers for our April 6th “Slice of Life” performance.  Christine Phillips Westfeldt, Kyra Freeman, Steve Tate, Alberta Hipps and more! The event is hosted by the …See More
Apr 1
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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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,…See More
Apr 1
Rap Monster posted a blog post

Stealth Hazy - 'Gun Clap'

Stealth Hazy - Gun ClapI got 80 rounds with a beam on it riding dirty I'm smoking chronic top off hear that system pound 808 thats subsonicI double down quadruple upstraight droppin with no cutwilt chamberlain on the reboundand you a fan just starstruckI…See More
Mar 26
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
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Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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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

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

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)See video of Act 1, Scene 1: The SettingProgram Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Reader: 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…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

Intermission

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

The bag lady of Almond was a literary light

by Rob Neufeld

PHOTO CAPTION: Olive Tilford Dargan about the time she published her first acclaimed book c1904.  Photo from Charlotte Young Collection, Special Collections, UNC Asheville.

            In the late 1930s, children in Almond saw an old lady walking around town carrying bags and muttering to herself.

            She was the celebrated playwright, poet, and novelist Olive Tilford Dargan, who had come to Swain County, the place of her former farm, after feeling a Red Scare chill in Asheville over her allegedly proletarian novel, “Call Home the Heart.”  She had written it under a pseudonym, Fielding Burke, but a publishing insider had leaked her identity.

            Dargan’s bag contained gifts for the children.  The muttering they heard was poems she recited in the act of composition.

            “The rain it raineth every day/ From skies of wrath and rue,” she’d repeat, enjoying the “r” sounds before launching into her idyll, “But I’ve a garden where I play/ Whatever skies may do.”

            When a Citizen-Times reporter visited her at Bluebonnet Lodge, her West Asheville home, in 1936, he entered her garden there via a flagstone path at the end of Balsam Ave. to discover a lawn “hidden by massive trees and shrubs … Climbing roses, clematis and trumpet vine run riot over” the “ancient logs” of the home, “and boxwood and evergreens peculiar to the mountains add their beauty to a house that bespeaks the primitive, sturdy mountaineer.”

            The cabin dated back to the early 1800s, and had been bought, in 1897, by Rutherford Platt Hayes, son of President Rutherford B. Hayes, and early West Asheville developer.

            Not long after Dargan’s death at age 99 in 1968, Richard Coleman razed the cabin to make way for an office park that would include a U.S. Post Office.  The most visible part of that development now is Aldi’s.

 

Writer at work

 

            Dargan had established an indoor-outdoor office in a screened outbuilding at Bluebonnet Lodge and “moved her small portable typewriter outside beneath the tall, stately pine trees,” an unsigned reporter noted in 1932.

            She’d just completed her novel, “Call Home the Heart,” which follows fictional Ishma Waycaster from her mountain community to a piedmont mill.

          Workers’ lives, Dargan asserted, lie closer to real experience “than the ‘flutter of an eyelid.’ which has occupied bourgeois writers for years and is considered by standpat critics as art.  Still, these same critics will call the struggle of workers to free themselves ‘propaganda.’”

          “Before she was seven,” Dargan writes about Ishma, the girl “had joined the class of burden-bearers.” 

            At 18, she planned to leave, horrified by the fates of her pathetic sister and luckless brother-in-law.  Yet, she married Britt, a folk-singer, and they made a go at farming. 

            At one point, the couple “rebuilt their future on the slender basis of seven bushels of (soy) beans.”  Stray cows trampled half the hay crop.

            Continued misfortune overwhelmed even hope of joy, and one day, Ishma ran off to the mills with Rad, the beau she’d once rejected.

            The dark view of life in “Call Home the Heart” concludes when Ishma goes back home to Britt and the mountains.  Readers had become familiar with this setting in Dargan’s 1925 book of stories, “Highland Annals,” reissued in 1941 as “From My Highest Hill.”  The later edition included photos of people from Almond taken by celebrated photographer Bayard Wooten.

            “Highland Annals” had been based on the tenant farmer and local families Dargan had known while managing her farm in Swain County after her unstable husband, Pegram, had drowned.

            Even then, Dargan had been the writer lady.

 

Round Top world

 

            Since 1904, when she’d published the poetic drama, “Semiramis,” Dargan had been considered one of America’s great writers with her daring plays in Shakespearean form; and her poems of Wordsworthian wonder.

            Some time into her tenure on Round Top in Almond, “the families on my farm ceased to look upon me as a mere outsider occasionally invading my own territory,” she wrote in “Highland Annals.”

            Coretta, a tenant farm woman, comes by for a favor, interrupting Dargan’s precious morning hours after a long night.  Coretta doesn’t understand Dargan’s displeasure at being disturbed. 

            “But Sam.” Coretta exclaims, referring to her husband, “had to git to the ploughin’ early, an’ you only had to jest sit and write!”

            On the other hand, Serena, a young wife who helps Dargan, is on Dargan’s side when a haughty woman from Chicago suggests that if Dargan wished “to memorialize a passing folk, you will find material more worthy of your pen in the twilight of the bourgeoisie.”

            A fire to her Round Top home sent Dargan to West Asheville.  “The thing that most frequently stymies me,” she wrote a friend, “is a suffocating sense of guilt.  In the world we breathe in to-day every moment calls one to its own job, and it isn’t ‘poetry.’”

            The stock market crash occurred on October 29, 1929, and on Nov. 6, Dargan wrote her friend, Grant Knight, a University of Kentucky literature professor, about her state of mind.

            “When I said ‘there are no people here,’ I did not mean artists and writers,” she explained.  “We do have them with us.  But ‘real people’ to me are only those who understand that a new society is a-borning.”

            Dargan’s friend, Charlotte Young, a poet from Hominy Valley, called Dargan one of the best poets in the country in her time, but added that she was someone who hobnobbed with Communists and who would “fall for anything that came along if it was sold to her with a glib tongue.”

            In contrast, Sylvia Latshaw, a friend and neighbor in Almond, commenting on what she called Dargan’s blacklisting, said she didn’t mind because in Almond “nobody knew anything about it and no one cared … 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 had gotten them.  There she [Dargan] stayed until the hue and cry died down.”

            Over the next few years, Dargan traveled and worked on “A Stone Came Rolling,” the sequel to “Call Home the Heart.” 

            Dargan “has selected and assimilated her material emotionally,” Bernard Smith wrote in a “NY Herald Tribune” book review,  … (She) is less interested in the epic and dramatic nature of her material than in the intimate and emotional effects of the class struggle upon individuals.”

            In 1956, when she was 87, Dargan sold her home in West Asheville to a couple who agreed to let her live upstairs.  Dargan’s space was reached by rickety stairs.   There was “a makeshift arrangement with her water and toilet,” Latshaw said.

            Dargan’s will, dated February 28, 1961, bequeathed her papers and manuscripts to the University of Kentucky at Lexington, but they never arrived.  Family members allegedly burned her correspondence; and her manuscripts and notes somehow got trashed.

            In 1958, when she was 89, she’d published “The Spotted Hawk,” a book of poems.  It won multiple awards.   In one poem, “Vain Rescue,” she imagines her death. 

 

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.

 

            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.

 

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Great Article!  Heart wrenching about her destroyed manuscripts and letters and notes but I will look for more of Olive Dargan!     Lee Ann Brown

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