The Social Side of Literary Magazines, an Editorial

Article excerpt

There are unsung heroes in the literary life of the Southern Appalachians, including the people whose hard work creates and sustains the literary events of the region. These gatherings have been crucial to many prospective writers in providing them with the contacts and expertise they need to advance their careers. Our region hosts a splendid variety of these occasions.

Knott County poet, Albert Stewart, who founded this magazine also established the Appalachian Writers' Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, Kentucky. The school's director, Mike Mullins, and Rebecca Ware, the associate director, have served the school since the beginning of the workshop and have diligently worked to make sure that each year new faculty and participants have become involved. This is no easy task because a huge portion of those who come one time wish to return. The 34th Workshop last August featured eleven teaching faculty, all from the region, who gave public readings every evening.

Grace Edwards, the recently retired Director of the Radford University Regional Studies Center, can count among her many lasting achievements there the founding of the Highland Summer Conference. Each year participants gather for three weeks, with a faculty of six (two distinguished writers join them for each of the three weeks). The public readings are free, and college credit is available for full participation in the Conference. In recent years JoAnn Asbury and Ricky Cox have worked closely with the Conference, providing continuity for the 34th annual event which was hosted by the new Center director, Theresa Burris.

West Virginia Writers, Inc. was organized in 1977 and holds an Annual Conference at Cedar Lakes 4-H Center every year. This venue is delightful, and the pond in the center of the campus is a great place to stroll.

Also preparing for next year's 35th annual conference is the Appalachian Studies Association. This is basically an academic conference featuring panels in many disciplines, but it always includes some sessions of literary criticism and some poetry readings. The conference is held at different locations every year, but some regional authors are always present.

Preparing for their 23rd Annual Conference is the Tennessee Mountain Writers Association which meets at a hotel in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, every year. This weekend event features hands-on workshops by writers from a wide variety of genres. …