Dori Freeman is a singer and songwriter from Galax, Virginia. Her music blurs the finer lines of Americana and shines a new light on the legacy of traditional music. She brings a modern perspective – both lyrically and vocally – to the genre. Her sophomore album “Letters Never Read.” was released in October, 2017.
Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) resides in Qualla, North Carolina, with her husband, Evan, and their sons, Ross and Charlie. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her first novel, Going to Water, is winner of the Morning Star Award for Creative Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium (2012), a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (2014), and the 2017−2018 selection for Western Carolina University’s One Book program. Recent publications also include “Undertow” in Carolina Mountain Literary Festival Anthology: Ten Years of Festivals (Press 53, 2015), Naked Came the Leaf Peeper(Burning Bush Press, 2011), “It All Comes Out in the Wash” from Appalachian Heritage Quarterly (Berea College, 2009), and “Camouflage” from Night is Gone, Day Is Still Coming (Candlewick Press, 2003), and a series of bilingual children’s books published by the EBCI. After serving as executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Annette (National Board Certified since 2012) returned to teaching English at Swain County High School. She is coeditor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and writes bimonthly columns for Smoky Mountain Living magazine.
Charles Frazier grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Cold Mountain (1997), his highly acclaimed first novel, was an international bestseller, won the National Book Award in 1997, and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Anthony Minghella in 2003. Charles’s second novel, Thirteen Moons (2006), was a New York Times bestseller and named a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His third novel, Nightwoods (2011), also a New York Times bestseller, is a critically acclaimed literary thriller set in a fictional Western North Carolina town in the early 1960s. Charles’s latest novel, Varina, an instant New York Times bestseller released in April of 2018, is a fictional reimagining of the life of Varina Howell Davis before, during, and after the American Civil War.
Charles received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina, an M.A. from Appalachian State University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina. He taught English at University of Colorado Boulder and at North Carolina State University.
I’ve read River of Earth by James Still once a year since my first time in Silas House’s Appalachian Literature class my first year at Berea. Each time, I get something new from the story, and each time I fall more deeply in love with Still’s writing, with the deeply moving plights of the novel’s characters. The first time I read the novel, I could never have predicted how important Appalachian Literature and Appalachian Studies would become to my life.
After taking the course with Silas, I decided I was deeply interested in studying Appalachia, studying the region I call home, and I declared a minor in Appalachian studies. Since then, I have learned a lot about myself as a person and as a writer. I have learned about why my people are the way they are, backed up with historical context and the nuanced complexities of the region.
Now, as I get ready to graduate in May, I recognize the importance of paying tribute to those writers and scholars who have paved the path for my generation of Appalachian writers and scholars. Last fall, I had the opportunity to get to know Loyal Jones, the Appalachian Center’s namesake and one of the most important figures in developing the Appalachian Studies program. Not only did I get to interview him with Silas, but when he gifted his book collection to the Appalachian Center, I jumped on the chance to sort through every one of Loyal’s books.
Among the collection were many beautiful books, most signed by writers who have befriended Loyal over the years. Of course, the 1940 copy of River of Earth caught my eye. This semester, when Silas asked me to make a reading guide for the novel for his Appalachian Literature class, I knew which copy I wanted to go to: Loyal’s copy now stored in Faber Library. As I did my fourth read of the novel, I found myself immersed in a different way. I felt like a real part of a tradition I started out unfamiliar with. As I was getting ready to put the book back in its case, I happened to notice inscribed by James Still in the beginning pages, “For Loyal Jones, my tale, my friend.” I left feeling like I was part of something larger than myself, like the next link knitted into the Appalachian studies tradition. I’ve found a home in Appalachian literature, and I plan to reside there always with those who have written before me.
Article Written by Emily Masters