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Appalachian Gateway

An Anthology of Contemporary Stories and Poetry

George Brosi and Kate Egerton

Publication Year: 2013

Featuring the work of twenty-five fiction writers and poets, this anthology is a captivating introduction to the finest of contemporary Appalachian literature. Here are short stories and poems by some of the region’s most dynamic and best-loved authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Ron Rash, Nikki Giovanni, Robert Morgan, Lisa Alther, and Lee Smith among others. In addition to compelling selections from each writer’s work, the book includes illuminating biographical sketches and bibliographies for each author.

These works encompass a variety of themes that, collectively, capture the essence of Appalachia: love of the land, family ties, and the struggle to blend progress with heritage.  Readers will enjoy this book not just for the innate value of good literature but also for the insights it provides into this fascinating area. This book of fiction is an enlightening companion to non-fiction overviews of the region, including the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region, both published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2006. In fact the five sections of this book are the same as those of the Encyclopedia.

Educators and students will find this book especially appropriate for courses in creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature. Editor George Brosi’s foreword presents an historical overview of Appalachian Literature, while Kate Egerton and Morgan Cottrell’s afterword offers a helpful guide for studying Appalachian literature in a classroom setting.

George Brosi is the editor of Appalachian Heritage, a literary quarterly, and, along with his wife, Connie, runs a retail book business specializing in books from and about the Appalachian region. He has taught creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature.

Kate Egerton is an associate professor of English at Berea College. She has taught Appalachian literature and published scholarship in that field as well as in modern drama.

Samantha Cole majored in Appalachian Studies and worked for Appalachian Heritage while a student at Berea College. Morgan Cottrell is a West Virginia native who took Kate Egerton's Appalachian literature class at Berea College.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

Appalachian literature is an important field of literary studies. We are indebted to all those whose hard work helped establish and gain recognition for this subgenre of American literature. Regional literature has been viewed as an important part of Appalachian Studies from its beginnings as a distinct field of academic inquiry in the 1960s. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

We enthusiastically welcome you to a book that we hope you will find delightful, thought-provoking, and insightful. This is a collection of stories and poems by authors with strong ties to the Southern Appalachian region. At the time this book was prepared for publication, all the authors represented were contemporary, very much alive and engaged in regional life. ...

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An Overview of Appalachian Literature

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pp. xvii-xxvi

Appalachian literature begins with the stories told by those who first settled our region. The stories of the Cherokees, as well as those brought to America from Europe and Africa, form a rich tradition that not only propelled Appalachian literature to an auspicious beginning but that continue to infuse regional writing. ...

Works on Appalachian Literature

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

Part 1: The Landscape

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Lisa Alther

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pp. 3-14

Sunlight danced through the rust and mustard foliage. Palmer felt like a kid laying out of school. Even if he did own the company. But he was, after all, out here on business. Julius was an expensive dog. His ancestors had been lead hounds for the best hunts in Virginia, right back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. ...

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Fred Chappell

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pp. 15-24

Then there was one brief time when we didn’t live in the big brick house with my grandmother but in a neat two-storey green-shingled white house in the holler below. It was two stories if you stood at the front door; on the other side it was three stories, the ground floor a tall basement garage. ...

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Nikki Giovanni

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pp. 25-34

Nikki Giovanni is one of this country’s most widely read poets and one of America’s most renowned poets worldwide. Her poem “Knoxville, Tennessee” is arguably the single literary work most often associated with that city. ...

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Robert Morgan

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pp. 35-52

“He thinks he’s shit on a stick, but he’s really just a fart on a splinter,” Carlie said. It was a cotton mill saying she’d been repeating for years. She especially liked to say it about T.J. ...

Part 2: The People

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Robert J. Conley

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pp. 55-64

We had driven past it dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, the giant, plastic Indian which stood in front of the motel on Highway 51, and we had almost always cussed it as we went by. It was an insult to us all. One feather in its hair, a pair of moccasins and a flap on its front and back were all the clothes it wore. ...

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Ann Pancake

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pp. 65-74

Richard has gone on and died, she thinks when she hears the knuckle on the door. Took two weeks after the accident, he was strong. The other three dead at the scene. She glances at the digital clock on top of Richard’s New Testament, then she covers her face with her hands. ...

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Mark Powell

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pp. 75-88

In his first spring after the war, Walt Berger went home, home to see the old man, and home to rest. He had a bottle of Jim Beam between his thighs and his discharge papers in his sea bag. He sipped the coffee and topped it off with Jim Beam, and by the time he hit I-40, he was thinking of Leigh Ann, ...

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Lee Smith

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pp. 89-100

“You’ll remember to get the Thule put on top of the Volvo, then?” On his way over to the university, Jake turns back to ask her. “And make sure the key works?” He hands her this little bitty key. ...

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Frank X Walker

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pp. 101-106

On his website, Frank X Walker writes, “As a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and the creator of the word ‘Affrilachia,’ I believe it is my responsibility to say as loudly and often as possible that people and artists of color are part of the past and present of the multi-state Appalachian region extending from northern Mississippi to southern New York. ...

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Crystal Wilkinson

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pp. 107-116

My mother never approved but she came to like Roscoe, even after trying hard not to. When Roscoe had his gall bladder surgery Mother came over and helped me out around the house. In the kitchen, with just the two of us washing up the supper dishes, ...

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Meredith Sue Willis

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pp. 117-134

Elvissa rhymes with Louisa and her hobby was New York City. If you had asked her as a teen in the early 1980s why New York, she would have smiled and shrugged and maybe described a view overlooking all the lights of the city. ...

Part 3: Work and the Economy

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Barbara Kingsolver

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pp. 137-156

My great-grandmother belonged to the Bird Clan. Hers was one of the fugitive bands of Cherokee who resisted capture in the year that General Winfield Scott was in charge of prodding the forest people from their beds and removing them westward. Those few who escaped his notice moved, like wildcat families through the Carolina mountains, ...

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Chris Offutt

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pp. 157-168

Gerald opened his front door at dawn, wearing only a quickly drawn-on pair of jeans. His wife’s four brothers stood in the ground fog that filtered along the ridge. The oldest brother had become family spokesman after the father’s death, and Gerald waited for him to speak. ...

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Ron Rash

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pp. 169-184

On those August nights when no late-afternoon thunderstorm rinsed the heat and humidity from the air, no breeze stirred the cattails and willow oak leaves, Jamie and Matt sometimes made love surrounded by water. Tonight might be such a night, Jamie thought. ...

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Charles Wright

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pp. 185-192

Charles Wright is one of America’s most distinguished contemporary poets. He has been awarded many of the most prestigious honors in poetry, culminating in the Pulitzer Prize that he won in 1998. ...

Part 4: Cultural Traditions

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Darnell Arnoult

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pp. 195-204

Darnell Arnoult writes poetry, stories, and novels that are strongly grounded in working-class Appalachian and southern life. Her down-to-earth writing and teaching have won her legions of loyal admirers. Born in 1955 in Martinsville, Virginia, she and her family moved to nearby Danville so she could go to second grade in a Catholic school. ...

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Pinckney Benedict

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pp. 205-218

I call him Pig Helmet because he’s the sort of fellow that, in olden times, you’d have been one of the Civilized People trying like hell with fire and boiling oil and molten lead and such, to keep him and his kind out, and he’d have been one of the dreaded barbarians, he’d have been the lead barbarian in fact, ...

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Silas House

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pp. 219-232

After Liz tells her, Charma doesn’t say anything for a long moment. She is sitting on the couch, smoking a cigarette with one hand and patting the baby’s back with the other. “Saved?” she says, as if completely baffled. The word comes out in one great plume of smoke. ...

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Maurice Manning

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pp. 233-240

When Maurice Manning was named one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2011 for his collection The Common Man, while still in his forties, it was just another indication of the dramatic trajectory of his career. He was in his thirties when his very first book of poetry, ...

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Sharyn McCrumb

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pp. 241-252

A plaque, a photo, a cardboard likeness. Well, they will find none of those things here. Oh, they exist, and I have them still, but they are packed away in the other house, buried with the life I have now escaped, as surely as Liam has escaped his. ...

Part 5: Institutions

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Kathryn Stripling Byer

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pp. 255-262

The lyrical quality of Kathryn Stripling Byer’s poetry has inspired composers to set several of her poems to music that has been performed in North Carolina, Georgia, New York, and Hungary. “Singing must have seemed the only way [that mountain women] could travel,” ...

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Elizabeth Cox

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pp. 263-278

I know almost nothing about prisons, but I know enough to hold my glance at the level of an inmate’s eyes, and to keep my expression absent of pity. I know how to look straight at people, with no judgment. I learned this particular sensitivity in the fourth-grade class of Mrs. Natalie Johnson. ...

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Chris Holbrook

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pp. 279-292

The sidewalk in front of the Hazard Regional Hospital is strewn with cigarette butts. Some of the smokers are visitors, I grant you. But some wear gowns and robes. Some have drip bags hooked to their arms. They lean against those hat rack-looking carts, puffing away. The air is too still to clear the smoke. ...

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Jeff Daniel Marion

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pp. 293-300

Jeff Daniel Marion is a bard, clearly one of the most distinguished contemporary Tennessee poets and one who has gained significant national attention. His Ebbing and Flowing Springs: New and Selected Poems and Prose, 1976– 2001 won the 2004 Independent Publisher’s Award in poetry, ...

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Jayne Anne Phillips

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pp. 301-312

We found the kittens in a pile, too young to even stagger, the mother too hungry herself to feed them, or caught by the dogs. We had a big old plastic purse with a blanket inside, and we put them all in there and hauled them around in the wagon. I liked them, they were a little town of their own, ...

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pp. 313-317

We have designed Appalachian Gateway to bring contemporary Appalachian writing to a widening circle of readers. Many of those readers will encounter this material in a college or high school classroom, and this afterword is intended to support teachers in sharing Appalachian literature with students. ...

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About the Editors

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pp. 318-320

George Brosi grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and worked for the Council of the Southern Mountains in Berea, Kentucky, in the summer of 1963 between semesters at Carleton College. He graduated in 1965 and was employed by a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the Council again in 1967. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781572339811
E-ISBN-10: 1572339810
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572339446
Print-ISBN-10: 1572339446

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Appalachian Region -- Bio-bibliography.
  • Appalachian Region -- Literary collections.
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