Blog by Rosie Carpenter

Rosie Carpenter serves as UACC’s new Volunteer Coordinator, through the AmeriCorps Program. Rosie has a BA in Anthropology with certificates in Historic Preservation and Heritage Studies. Since graduating in May 2015, her career path has focused on building community through the preservation of the built environment; she welcomes this new opportunity to build community through personal relationships at a grassroots level. To contact Rosie about UACC volunteer opportunities, email her at [email protected].

On Thursday, February 1st from 7-9pm at Lydia’s on Ludlow, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition will be hosting the first Urban Appalachian Literary Salon of the Spring Series. This series will be exploring the boundaries of Appalachian experiences and will start off with the complex theme of urban migration from Appalachia. Rosie Carpenter, Volunteer Coordinator of the UACC, interviewed Pauletta Hansel, co-editor of the journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel on what to expect for this upcoming Salon.

Q: The Literary Salon will be highlighting several writers from the most recent volume of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Can you tell us more about the journal and the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative?

A: In 1974, a group of writers and activists gathered at Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee, to form what became the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. From its very beginning, SAWC was intended to support writers in our efforts to take control of our regional identity and to take action, individually and collectively, on the issues that impact our land and our people. Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel is the literary journal of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative (SAWC), published in cooperation with Dos Madres Press, with support from the Ohio Arts Council. Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel is part of SAWC’s mission to foster community, activism and publication among Appalachia’s writers. Founded in the mid-1980s, the journal gives voice to a wide range of Appalachian writers. We like to call it a literary journal with grit: that is a journal that contains all the texture of Appalachian culture, not one homogenous voice, but many voices speaking from their own particular perspectives. Well-known Appalachian writers are published alongside those published for the first time. Visit SAWC and the journal at http://www.sawconline.net/

Q: Can you elaborate about this volume’s theme, “Appalachia: Stay or Go?”

A: This issue’s theme, “Appalachia: Stay or Go?” was offered by writers watching their friends, neighbors and family members struggle with the decision to remain in Appalachia or to move on. Many writers within SAWC’s community were once part of the Great Migration from Appalachia in the mid-twentieth century and have written about their own or their family’s choice to leave the region. Others are facing similar decisions now. The theme felt particularly appropriate as the Appalachian Studies Association was preparing to hold its annual conference outside the boundaries of the Appalachian Region. As you might expect, our poets, essayists and fiction writers offer no easy answers, and the question itself becomes ever more complex with a changing economic and political climate.

Q: What can we expect for this upcoming Salon Series on February 1st? Which writers from this volume of PMS&G will be participating?

A: Richard Hague, award-winning author of Studied Days: Poems Early and Late in Appalachia reads his essay, “Buddies: Two Stay or Go Stories” about his own story of leaving of Steubenville, Ohio and the story of his friend who stayed. Readers also include greater Cincinnati residents Barlow Adams, Rita Coleman and Chuck Stringer and central Kentucky poets Pamela Hirschler and Dale Marie Prenatt. These writers all have interesting takes on life in and out of the complex region we know as Appalachia.

***

Excerpts of featured writers:
Rita Coleman excerpt

There was no question. They would go North,
leaving behind roots deep as a black willow
leaning over the bank of a branch
that tripped down flat rock.

Dale Marie Prenatt Excerpt

American Elegy is coming
Just you wait—
A bestseller will kill you off too
I’m a hillbilly, they plum kill’t me
Bulldozed my bones into valley fill
with the other dead canaries

Pamela Hirshler excerpt

I still can’t

sell what I own.

There’s no one left

to buy. I’m between two worlds.

Nobody thinks I talk like them.

Richard Hague excerpt

   Sometimes I feel as if I owe my blasted hometown an apology, as if I have sneaked out on it, like ditching a little brother, or fleeing the scene of some vague crime I might have committed. It is true that in my early manhood, I had few good words for my hometown. Nor did many others, really.

Chuck Stringer excerpt

A day in early

September, out rowing

in the late afternoon,

_

I’ll watch as

the catch pull release

of my dipping oars

_

churns the surface

***

Q: What do you hope the audience will take away both from the journal and the Literary Salon?

A: The goal of the Salon Series is to bring urban Appalachian literary artists to the attention of our community, and use their work as a springboard for engagement around Appalachian culture and identity. This particular Salon seems perfect to that goal, as we will explore the issue of migration from both urban and rural perspectives, and it brings the community’s attention to Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel as a resource for both readers and for writers with something to say about Appalachia (our next issue’s theme will be: “Appalachia Acting Up.” We also hope that the salon will encourage people to attend the upcoming Appalachian Studies Conference that UACC is hosting in downtown Cincinnati, April 5-8. http://uacvoice.org/asa2018/

***

Founded in 2016, the Salon Series brings urban Appalachian literary artists to the attention of our community, and uses their work as a springboard for engagement around Appalachian culture and identity. The focus of the 2017/18 Salon series is “Exploring the Boundaries of Appalachian Experiences,” in preparation for the upcoming Appalachian Studies Conference in Cincinnati in April, “Re-stitching the Seams: Appalachia Beyond Its Borders.” The Series is funded in part by ArtsWave. For more information about the Salon Series and other Urban Appalachian Community Coalition Cultural Programs, click here.

One thought on “Appalachia: Stay Or Go?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *