Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Stefani Priskos, Jess Mador Published

Brasstown Carvers, Willie Carver And Cabbagetown, Inside Appalachia

Finished and in-progress carvings sit in front of a box of wood “blanks” or “patterns.”
The Brasstown Carvers have a folk tradition that's endured for nearly 100 years.
Stefani Priskos/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For nearly a century, some of the best wood carvers in Appalachia have trained at a folk school in North Carolina. The Brasstown Carvers still welcome newcomers to come learn the craft.

In 2021, Willie Carver was named Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year. Then he left his job over homophobia and became an activist and celebrated poet. 

And, the zine Porch Beers chronicles the author’s life in Appalachia — including a move from Huntington to Chattanooga, and back again.

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

In This Episode:

Brasstown Carvers Continue On In The 21st Century

Two older adults sit at a table with wooden carvings in their hands.
Angela Wynn and Richard Carter carve tiny beavers out of basswood at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. The Brasstown Carvers continue on through new generations of woodworkers.

Credit: Stefani Priskos/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Brasstown Carvers have been a part of the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina almost since its founding in the 1920s. The group’s woodwork has been celebrated, sought after and collected. Today, only a handful of Brasstown Carvers remain, but they’re still attracting new students and trying to shape a new future.

Folkways Reporter Stefani Priskos has the story.

Gay Poems For Red States And Appalachia’s Love Language 

A middle aged man takes a selfie and smiles. He has rainbow glasses on.
Willie Carver, Kentucky educator, poet and proud Appalachian.


Willie Carver was Kentucky’s teacher of the year in 2021. He taught English and French for 10 years at Montgomery County High School, where he also oversaw several student clubs.

He’s also gay and not everyone accepted a gay high school teacher. Carver said he and his LGBTQ students were harassed. 

In 2022, he resigned from the high school. 

Last summer, Carver released the book Gay Poems for Red States, which attracted a lot of praise and helped turn him into a much-followed, outspoken voice on social media. 

Bill Lynch spoke with Carver.

Cracking Open Porch Beers

A black and white photo of a man wearing a winter hat.
Elliott Stewart, the publisher of the zine Porch Beers takes a look at life as an Appalachian trans man.


Elliott Stewart has been making zines since he was 13. His ongoing zine “Porch Beers” is an incisive look at Appalachian culture, through the eyes of a queer trans man. “Porch Beers” dives into pop culture fandom, West Virginia food and Stewart’s complicated relationship with his hometown of Huntington, West Virginia.

Mason Adams spoke with Elliott Stewart about his zine and about what a “porch beer” is anyway.

A Trip To Cabbagetown

A black and white photo of a small town.
Cabbagetown was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Archival Image

After the Civil War, droves of Appalachian workers migrated to a mill town in the middle of Atlanta, eventually known as Cabbagetown. Many went to work at the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill and raised families in Atlanta, but the area is still home to urban Appalachian culture and traditions.

Jess Mador has the story.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Dinosaur Burps, John Inghram, Tyler Childers, Mary Hott, Joyce Brookshire and John Blissard.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

You can find us on Instagram, Threads and Twitter @InAppalachia. Or here on Facebook.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.