Square dance calling — the spoken instructions said over the music — makes participation easy. But there are other aspects — like the prevalence of gendered language such as “ladies and gents” — that can make square dancing an unwelcoming or confusing space. One group of friends in the Appalachian square dance scene are taking action to make the tradition more welcoming for all participants.Continue Reading Take Me to More News
I met Richard Hartman, West Virginia native and author of “A Night in the Woods — And Other Absurdities of Life,” through a mutual friend of ours. He was teaching history then at West Virginia State University, and we started talking about the follies of trying to get — and keep — the attention of college students.
He said he felt as if teaching were a performance art and in order to keep the kids awake, you had to entertain as much as teach them. I couldn’t agree more.
Hartman has such an engaging, self-effacing, dry wit that makes those around him burst into laughter. He’s been many things in his life — forest ranger, paramedic, administrative law judge, community grants manager, legislative analyst and professor. As a storyteller, he shares stories that get straight-to-the-point. As much as absurdity and humor play a large role in his stories, there’s a depth of kindness and humanity that comes through as well.
We discussed writing, being a lost forest ranger, his beloved first dog, adolescent dinosaur hunters, a mishap while a paramedic and the non-dating of online dating.
“A Night in the Woods — And Other Absurdities of Life” is now available at Taylor Books in Charleston. He will be there on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. to read selections and sign his book.
Listen to this interview — along with a great mix of music — on Eclectopia this Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on WVPB radio.