Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, David Wooldridge, Brittany Patterson, Nicole Musgrave Published

A Class Project Discusses Being Inside Appalachia

Folkways Reporter David Wooldridge with musician Dom Flemons at the September 7, 2019 dedication of the marker for Unknown African American Banjoists in Appomattox, Virginia.
Photo courtesy David Wooldridge.

This week, a southern Ohio college writing class recently learned about the idea of Appalachian identity and then told us what they thought.

Kentucky has a new poet laureate, so we listen back to a 2020 conversation with author Silas House, about growing up in the mountains.

And in Harlan, Kentucky, a mural sparked strong opinions over possums.

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Back in 2021, Inside Appalachia produced an episode we called, “What is Appalachia?” It was all about parts of Appalachia that aren’t always thought of as being “Appalachia.” 

We asked listeners, “Do you consider yourself an Appalachian?”

Well, we recently got some email responses from students in a writing class at Ohio University Chillicothe. For some of the students, it was their first encounter with the idea of Appalachia.  

The Banjo Explained And Explored

Jammy music festival season is on its way and one of the main instruments in string band music is the banjo, which originated in Africa and was brought to this country by enslaved people. 

The banjo crossed over into white culture, while its history was white-washed to obscure its African identity. In recent decades, Black musicians have reclaimed the banjo and are taking the instrument in new directions.

Folkways reporter and banjo player David Wooldridge brought us the story.

Silas House Ascending

In April, Governor Andy Beshear named writer Silas House Kentucky’s newest poet laureate. In early 2020, reporter Britanny Patterson spoke with House after he wrote an essay in The Atlantic about the lack of media attention to catastrophic winter flooding in central Appalachia. 

Possum Painting Produces A Predicament

The Virginia opossum — also known as the North American opossum, or just plain “possum” depending on who you’re talking to — are showing up more in pop culture, especially here in the mountains. But not everyone loves possums. 

In 2019, a community in Harlan County, Kentucky, found that out first-hand, when they decided to feature a possum on a mural downtown.

Folkways reporter Nicole Musgrave gave us the story.

Author Silas House is Kentucky’s newest poet laureate.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by David Mayfield, John R. Miller, Jeff Ellis, Marissa Anderson and Town Mountain.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.