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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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Julia Nunnally Duncan Featured at High Country Writers Meeting at Watauga County Public Library

June 14, 2018 from 10am to 12pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be the featured presenter at the High Country Writers Meeting on June 14, 10 a.m.-12 noon at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. She will discuss her inspirations and the process of becoming a published author. She will present readings from her latest books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home and give a preview of her forthcoming poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes. A book signing will follow her presentation.See More
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Get interviewed by Lil Dee of Rap Monster Radio.  Rap Monster Radio is an online hip hop radio station with more than 60,000 listeners a month in over 180 countries.We will interview and provide you with an mp3 copy of the interview.Get the worldwide exposure you deserve.…See More
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A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
Mar 21
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Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
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Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
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"She looks like I look in my imagination right before I've had my coffee ... relaxed, bothered (by something, anything) and fully aware that I'm almost, but not quite, the center of the universe ... a feeling that quickly fades after that…"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford replied to Kathryn Stripling Byer's discussion Mary Adams's new chapbook COMMANDMENT
"This is so perfect ... the thought of every woman, who KNOWS what the men are thinking!  But now at least we have an idea! This makes me happy in a sad, lovely sort of way!"
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Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
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Feb 15

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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