As I recall it, 1964 began with a phone call. Perhaps it was New Year’s Eve; I was looking after my younger brothers, my parents being out. On the line was Bob Barrus, teacher at the boarding school I attended, the Arthur Morgan School up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, near where my … Continue reading Beloved Country: A Memory
When I heard John Prine's first album, way back in 1971, I was particularly struck by the song "Paradise." As a child of migration out of Appalachia, I understood the nostalgia:When I was a child my family would travelDown to Western Kentucky where my parents were bornAnd there's a backwards old town that's often rememberedSo … Continue reading Lost Paradise, Now Lindytown: Appalachia Fades to Black
The following is a paper I will be presenting at the Appalachian Studies Association Annual Conference at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio on Friday, March 27.There are, of course, similarities between the Appalachian college student and the Brooklyn one, but you won’t find them if you go looking for racial or ethnic parallels, religious … Continue reading Exploding the Monolith: The Value of Teaching Appalachian Literature in Inner-City Environments
“If it weren't for Appalachians, this would be a perfect country.”That's what I seem to be hearing, these days, from many of my progressive fellow travelers. They point to a map in The New York Times that shows that Appalachia, essentially, is the only area of the country where Republicans gained in presidential voting.Except for … Continue reading Appalachia On My Mind
Scholar of Appalachian culture Rodger Cunningham (author of Apples on the Flood: Minority Discourse and Appalachia), forwarded to me a link to a post on the blog “Hillbilly Savants,” another response to Jane Smiley’s diatribe against Appalachian culture—this one by Eric Drummond Smith. Seeing it makes me hope that Smiley has inadvertently done a favor … Continue reading What Has Smiley Brought Forth?
In reaction to the recent renewal of disparaging remarks about Appalachian culture (some nearly calling the “Scots-Irish” the basis for all that’s wrong with this country) by way too many people (including the novelist Jane Smiley), I want to begin to share here my boyhood memories of life in the mountains of North Carolina. Though … Continue reading Memories of Appalachia