The public is invited to celebrate the Spring 2012 issue of Appalachian Heritage on Friday, September 28th at Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center Gallery at 205 North Main Street in Berea, Kentucky. A reception with refreshments will begin at 7:30 p.m. followed by a multi-media presentation at 8:00 p.m.
The event will honor the contributions of Breece D’J Pancake (1952-1979), the featured author of this issue of the magazine. He was born and raised in Milton, West Virginia. Although he committed suicide before publishing a single book, he remains one of the most respected and revered figures in Appalachian literature. After his death, his stories were gathered into a book, The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, which has remained in print ever since. It is arguably the book that most nearly fits the description “cult classic” of any in regional literature. Kurt Vonnegut said of him, “I give you my word of honor that he is merely the best writer, the most sincere writer I’ve ever read.”
Presenting on this occasion will be Grace Toney Edwards, the guest editor of this issue of the magazine. She was friends with Breece when they were both in graduate school at the University of Virginia, and she is widely known as a leading expert on Appalachian Literature. She co-edited the section on “Appalachian Literature” for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and directed the Highland Summer Conference, an important workshop on Appalachian Literature for almost thirty years beginning in 1983. Edwards is also a leader in the field of Appalachian Studies. In 1988 she was elected President of the Appalachian Studies Association, and in 1999 she was awarded the Association’s Distinguished Scholar and Service Award. She is the lead editor of A Handbook to Appalachia, and she founded and directed the Appalachian Regional Studies Center at Radford University from 1994 until 2011 when she was designated Professor Emeritus.
Appalachian Heritage is a literary quarterly devoted to the art and literature of Southern Appalachia. It features the work of a particular article in each issue, but also includes poetry, stories, book reviews, and essays on a variety of subjects relevant to its region. The magazine was founded in 1973 at Alice Lloyd College and has been published by Berea College since 1985.