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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.

East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27, 2017.

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Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dom Flemons legendary musician at BRCC Jan 25

Dom Flemons, Grammy Award Winning Banjo Player, Jan. 25Dom Flemons, legendary banjo player and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops performs 7 p.m., January 25th, at Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.The show is the latest “Keeping the Fires Burning” series, produced by The Center for Cultural Preservation to celebrates the heroes of Southern Appalachian culture.Dom awakened Americans to the rich African-American roots tradition that informed old-time and bluegrass…See More
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

African-American music in Asheville

Asheville's African-American music meccaby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: The Outcasts, the state’s Battle of the Bands winner in 1979, included: (kneeling l to r) Edward Stout, saxophonist; Darriel Jones, drummer; (seated) Patricia McAfee, vocalist; (standing l to r) Marvin Seabrooks, trombonist; Mike Steele, saxophonist;…See More
Monday
Frank Thompson posted events
Monday
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling in 6 Weekly Sessions at Lenoir Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies Asheville

January 24, 2018 at 10am to February 28, 2018 at 12pm
Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling in 6 SessionsIt’s winter and Connie Regan-Blake is excited to offer a new learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville at Lenoir-Rhyne University (36 Montford Ave) on Wednesday mornings 10:00 am – 12:00pm for six story-work sessions.  This weekly format allows for your…See More
Jan 8
Susan Weinberg posted an event

Reading by Poet Anne Waldman at Table Rock Room 201B, Plemmons Student Union, AppState

March 22, 2018 from 7:30pm to 8:45pm
The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series presents a reading by Poet ANNE WALDMAN. The author will also present a craft talk from 3:30-4:45 in the same location. Admission is free, and book sales and signing will follow each event. Parking is free on campus after 5 pm, with the parking deck at College & Howard streets recommended. For further details, check www.visitingwriters.appstate.edu.    Anne Waldman is a poet, performer,…See More
Jan 4
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Dec 15, 2017
Spellbound posted an event
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Lyndsay Eli with GUNSLINGER GIRL (YA Novel) at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

January 20, 2018 from 6pm to 7pm
Are you a fan of The Hunger Games?  Then picture what Katniss would be like - with a gun.  That's just a taste of the "new" West action Lyndsay Eli brings to Spellbound Children's Bookshop with Gunslinger Girl.  She shares her debut novel on Saturday, January 20, at 6 p.m. The US has been fractured by a Second Civil War. Serendipity 'Pity' Jones finds a home of sorts in the corrupt, lawless city of Cessation (think Las Vegas on steroids).  Her shooting skills make her a star of the Theater…See More
Nov 20, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Nov 15, 2017
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6, 2017
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13, 2017
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
Oct 8, 2017
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6, 2017
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6, 2017

Summer 2010 Intro to WNC Lit

Getting familiar with this region’s great literature

It's Summer, 2010, one of the good times to plan more reading, and perhaps a time tp appreciate the depth and scope of Western North Carolina's literature. Here is a survey of books by living authors of this region.

Rash, Morgan, Frazier

The big rising star in the region is Ron Rash. In the literary world, rising star is a peculiar term, for Rash has published eleven books of fiction and poetry, all acclaimed; and he rubs elbows with many fellow authors in his circle of achievement.

But the New York Times has caught up with us here in an appreciation of Rash by heralding his latest novel, “Serena”; and the O. Henry award-givers have dubbed a Rash short story one of the best of the year for the second time. Rash is noteworthy for writing about contemporary Appalachia; representing a wide range of characters with dignity; portraying a world full of grim dangers; and enthralling readers with a Beowulf-like poetry—that is, full of the kind of wonders that tellers once name-dropped in mead halls.

Anglo-Saxon prose is even more a feature of the novels of Charles Frazier, another literary best-seller writer, whose game-changer, “Cold Mountain,” has reached its thirteenth anniversary. His second novel, “Thirteen Moons,” is equally good—and presents an authentic narrative of the Cherokee displacement—but it has an anti-heroic ending rather than the Hollywood-ready one of his first novel.

Robert Morgan hit the big time with “Gap Creek,” when Oprah picked it for her book club in 2000. That novel and his previous one, “The Truest Pleasure,” revealed Morgan’s ability to convey the glories and griefs of mountain life through women’s voices. His range of expression through his career goes beyond that, including poetry that is grounded, musical, and mystical; as well as epic historical narrative, beginning with “Boone: A Biography.”

Price, Caldwell, Garren, Hays

Many region-based writers who warrant national audiences do not get the boost of bestsellerdom, though they attract critical acclaim.

In a quartet of novels, from “Hiwassee” to “Where the Water-Dogs Laughed,” Charles Price entered the personalities of dozens of characters over three generations and, through social realism, created what will endure as the saga of Clay County history. Completing that, he moved on to an ambitious personalizing of Revolutionary War combat with the novel, “Nor the Battle to the Strong.”.

One of the emblematic stories in local history—the displacement of pioneers by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—finally came to life in Wayne Caldwell’s paired novels, “Cataloochee” and “Requiem by Fire.” As in Ron Rash’s fiction, the characters are dignified and idiosyncratic, and events are sometimes Faulknerian gothic.

Terrell Garren, in non-fiction and fiction, including his latest novel, “The Fifth Skull,” addresses general ignorance about the minds and plights of mountain Southerners during the Civil War; and he seeks justice in all corners. Tommy Hays, director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA, carries sensitivity to race relations, felt in his Greenville, South Carolina-based novel, “In the Family Way”; and to Alzheimer’s sufferers in “The Pleasure Was Mine.”

Godwin, Smith, Chappell, Ehle, Earley

Several paragraphs into this survey, and there are still five authors who have made it into the American pantheon of writers to talk about.

Gail Godwin grew up in Asheville, then used a job at Blowing Rock’s Mayview Manor to launch her to Europe and, eventually, to acclaim as a leading voice of the independent, creative woman in the 1970s. Her recently published journals chart this journey. “A Mother and Two Daughters” and “A Southern Family,” her fifth and seventh novels, set in Mountain City (fictionalized Asheville), became best-sellers. Her latest novel, “Unfinished Desires,” based on schooling at St. Genevieve’s in Asheville, epitomizes her powers of empathy.

Lee Smith, who grew up in Appalachian Virginia and now lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, sets much of her fiction in Western North Carolina, making the colloquial mountain voice modern in fertile, community-embracing plots. “Saving Grace” follows the daughter of a snake-handling preacher through Haywood County; and, her most recent novel, “On Agate Hill,” follows a Civil War orphan to a teaching job and marriage in Ashe County.

Canton-born author, Fred Chappell, is the leading synthesizer of the mountain folk telling tradition and classic world literature. His most recent book, “Ancestors and Others,” brings together stories from his career that represent that imaginative brew. Chappell is also recognized as a master poet and devoted and incisive critic.

West Asheville-born John Ehle, along with the late Wilma Dykeman, were the key figures in the emergence of Southern Appalachian literature as a large presence in modern literature. Ehle’s 1964 novel, “The Land Breakers,” a Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection, was the first of seven of his books that dramatized the region’s history from pioneer days through the 1930s. Press 53 in Winston-Salem has reprinted two of them to date.

Tony Earley’s first novel, “Jim the Boy,” remains a huge success, a classic about the transition to modernity in Rutherford County. He continues to create a Willa Cather-like mythology out of his home universe.

Kostova, Addison Allen, Ross, Lane, McCrumb

Elizabeth Kostova and Sarah Addison Allen, both Asheville-raised, are two of the most recent residents of the best-seller list, drawing on subjects other then region. Kostova, in her novels, “The Historian” and “The Swan Thieves,” crosses into the occult realms of Dracula and immortal love with the literary grace of a Henry James novel. Allen takes magical realism into the realm of popular romance with “Garden Spells” and “The Girl Who Chased the Moon.”

Ann B. Ross’s latest novel, “Miss Julia Renews Her Vows,” is the twelfth in her “Miss Julia” series, in which she has also spoken her mind, hit the road, and painted the town. The Hendersonville author sets her fiction in the North Carolina town of Abbotsville. Vicki Lane has won a large following with her local lore mysteries, most recently, “In a Dark Season.” Jan Karon and Joan Medlicott have also reached mass audiences with regionally set village dramas.

Sharyn McCrumb is the fearlessly creative, regionally proud, and irrepressibly funny author of mysteries (she no longer writes them), “ballad novels,” historical fiction, and—most recently—NASCAR-based romps. “Once around the Track” is her latest NASCAR novel; and a new ballad novel, “The Devil amongst the Lawyers,” is coming out this month.

Byer and a florescence of poets

Amid the beer, religious retreats, retirement homes, outdoor sports, and other things for which the Asheville area is a mecca, there’s also poetry. Cullowhee author Kathryn Stripling Byer, having retired from two terms as North Carolina Poet Laureate, is magnetic north. Mountain-bred sensibility, internationally tuned music, and a concern for people and issues that expresses itself as longing distinguish her work in such volumes as “Wildwood Flower,”’ “Black Shawl,” and “Coming to Rest.”

There are other notable stars. Keith Flynn of Madison County brings his rock music, oratorical, and worldly background to commanding performances, a host of books, poetry workshops, and the editing of the widely acclaimed journal, “Asheville Poetry Review.” Thomas Rain Crowe of Tuckaseegee writes about home in a Thoreau-like way, but also embraces influences experienced through travel: the Beat poets out west; Dylan Thomas and the Welsh; Sufis; and, most recently, Europe’s old cities.

Glenis Redmond has navigated a Poetry Slam start into a career as a major lyric poet, much in demand in schools and arenas. Allan Wolf, one of the early leaders of Poetry Alive, based in Asheville, has crafted himself a place among the top practitioners of Shel Silverstein’s kind of verse.

Rick Chess, director of UNCA’s Center for Jewish Studies, writes poems that meditate on the intimate and modern meanings of his tradition. Nancy Dillingham and Julia Nunnally Duncan reflect on personal experience in the mountains and create distinctive and very musical sounds. Laura Hope-Gill, organizer of Wordfest, notably pairs poems with the work of photographers.

Storytellers and others

In an area as world famous for its storytelling as Western North Carolina, it would be an act of narrow-minded blindness to ignore the practitioners of oral literature. Chief among these is Gary Carden, storyteller and playwright, whose works can be obtained on DVD as well as in print.

Sheila Kay Adams, a musician of long lineage in Madison County, has also published a book of short stories and a novel, “My Old True Love.” Barbara Freeman is one of the leaders in regional storytelling, and has produced audio and video recordings. Curtis Blanton and Bill Carver bring the pure product to their tales. Rob Amberg and Tim Barnwell incorporate oral history into their books of documentary photography.

A survey of Western North Carolina literature cannot exclude other greats: Gloria Houston of Spruce Pine, who does for young readers what John Ehle has done for adults; MariJo Moore, a versatile communicator of Cherokee ways, and the honest, self-examining author of “The Diamond Doorknob”; Pamela Duncan, the most noteworthy fictional portrayer of mill life in the region; Maurice Stanley, who turns misunderstood outlaws into psychological realities; and many others.

Other impressive authors to follow!

--by Rob Neufeld, June 2010

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