Literature

Roger May

This week on Inside Appalachia, we travel to Cedar Grove, West Virginia, home of renowned novelist Mary Lee Settle. On this episode, we explore surprising, hidden histories through the work of Settle and the voices of women from Cedar Grove.

Jesse Wright

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to bring you voices from people who’ve written love letters for Appalachia, of a sort. And like most loves, this love, well…. it’s complicated.

Some of the folks we’ll hear on our show grew up in these mountains and were eager to move away, but when they did, they felt a strong homesickness that seemed to draw them back.

Photo by Crystal Good

Ever hear the word 'Affrilachian'? In the 1990s, a poet in Kentucky named Frank X Walker came up with the term. It refers to African Americans living in Appalachia. 

“To us it was about making the invisible visible, or giving voice to a previously muted or silenced voice,” Walker told the Appalachian Studies Association during its 2016 conference at Shepherd University.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

Courtesy Old Cove Press

It’s been about 15 years since the opioid epidemic first hit Appalachia. And now, there’s a whole generation of teenagers in West Virginia and Kentucky who have grown up with drug addiction strongly affecting their friends and families.

Novelist Carrie Mullins grew up in Mt. Vernon, KY. After spending a number of years in Lexington, she returned home in 2003.

Roger May

  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of a series of novels called The Beulah Quintet.  The novels are by the late Mary Lee Settle, a writer who set out to capture moments in West Virginia history when a revolutionary change was at stake. Today's economic uncertainty here in Appalachia has many people wondering whether we are also living in the midst of a transition.

Megan Meggers Ramsey

A grapevine clipping from the home of Pearl S. Buck, a world renowned author with West Virginia roots, just arrived in Michigan and soon will be planted at a high school literary garden.

It began as an idea last summer. Jennifer McQuillan teaches literature at West Bloomfield High School in Michigan, and she wanted to give her students something that would get them off their phones- and become better connected to the writing in decades old books.

Roger May

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of a series of novels called The Beulah Quintet.  The novels are by the late Mary Lee Settle, a writer who set out to capture moments in West Virginia history when a revolutionary change was at stake. Today's economic uncertainty here in Appalachia has many people wondering whether we are also living in the midst of a transition.

The West Virginia Book Company commissioned a new children’s book from West Virginia’s poet laureate and author Marc Harshman. The book, entitled Mountain Christmas, was published last month and is now in stores across the state. It’s about sleighbells heard by all sorts of people and creatures in iconic scenes found throughout the Mountain State.

A professional gambler named Abe Baach and his girlfriend Goldie Toothman, who owns a local brothel, are the main characters in a new novel by Glenn Taylor. The novel, called A Hanging at Cinder Bottom, is set in McDowell County’s “red light district” of Keystone during the turn of the 19th century.

It’s well known throughout circles in West Virginia that the state’s public education system lags behind nationally, ranking 48th, according to the US Census Bureau. There’s also a lot of talk throughout the state about the need for re-education and economic diversification in the state for adults.

As coal miners continue to lose their jobs, some are looking to education as a tool for new opportunities. But starting from the bottom or starting over isn’t easy.

One adult educator, a former coal miner from Boone County, just wrote a book that offers guidance. While author David Greene says this book should appeal to adult educators, it’s also meant to help individuals outside of the classroom.


e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  Writer Breece D’J Pancake died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 8, 1979. The South Charleston native grew up in Milton, which became the fictionalized setting for many of his short stories.

A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan and Marshall, Pancake taught at two military schools in Virginia before entering the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Program, where he was influenced by authors James Alan McPherson, Peter Taylor, and Mary Lee Settle. He began writing human interest stories for a Milton newspaper and working on a series of short stories. His big breakthrough came in 1977, when the Atlantic Monthly published his story “Trilobites.”