Tag Archives: appalachian literature

The Cleudis Robbins Memorial Storytelling Contest 2013: A Good Story Takes Some Telling

On the day of the event, one thing was clear as the children told their tales: The Appalachian storytelling tradition is alive and well in Bell County, Kentucky. In fact, it is thriving! Stories were as diverse as spine-chilling ghost stories to modern day adventures, tales handed down through generations to new stories spawned for the coming ages. We were swept up in sad tales of miners lost in cave-ins, funny stories about adventures in the mountains and whimsical narratives about every day life in Appalachia.

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Johnny Mull, Fiddler of the Mountains

But Johnny did not limit his playing to Clay County and dances on Tusquittee. No Sir! When he was in his early twenties he took off to Canton, OH, and got a good paying job at Timken Roller Bearing Company. That was exactly what his older brother, Joseph David (1900-1992), had done when he was 22 years old. I always thought if my daddy, (Joseph) had not gone up to Canton to find work, Johnny might never have left the mountains. But you never know what life will hand out to you!

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New 5-Woman Play about the Walker Sisters

It is clear that Soland appreciates the Walker Sisters’ way of life. “Our ancestors worked hard so we wouldn’t have to live like that. If they only knew, we needed to work hard in order to appreciate what we’ve been given.” She adds, “Now it seems what’s most appreciated, what’s most precious, has dissolved into the rolling rivers whose sound no one no longer really hears.”

The Walker Sisters were some of the last living residents inside what is now known as the Smoky Mountain National Park. They appreciated the mountain life with an appreciation the author longs for. With the help of Lisa Soland’s play on the life of the Walker Sisters, maybe we too can live what a quiet and simple life in these beautiful mountains of Eastern Tennessee might have been like.

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Book Review: ‘Mother of Rain’

Allowing the compelling cast to tell their story is a unique and exciting way to define the characters and to help the reader understand their role in Maizee’s life. In many ways the book is more like a play than a book. I was fascinated by the author’s poignant portrayal of what we now know as mental illness, which at the time was misunderstood and secretive.

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Book Review: ‘Listening to the Land’

The photographs in this book are vivid and at times striking. While they contribute to the story told in the text, photographer Tom Cogill has done an excellent job of using image to create its own narrative. As with many photographic documents of Appalachia, Listening to the Land has its share of standard landscape images: the blurry and babbling brook, the broad and rugged landscape, the active forest floor. But unlike other accounts, all of these images are beautiful. And the broad, more generic shots are interspersed with specific images such as a morel, mechanical gears, and a cluttered tool shed.

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