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The Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Bobby Ann Mason Volume III

In Art, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Creative Writing, Creativity, Fiction, Humanities, News Release, Poetry, Writing on July 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Allen Mendenhall

Below is a news release for a volume that features my poem “Conversation on a Rail.”

News Release: The third volume of The Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Bobbie Ann Mason edition, is now for sale at the Shepherd University Book Store (see  This newest book in the collection  presents a selection of stories, essays, poetry, and photographic art, which provide readers with an extraordinary look at the language, storytelling, cultural traditions and heritage of Appalachians—Appalachians working and living in the region today and yesterday.         

As with each previous volume, a common center is provided by the literary art and talent of the 2010 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University and recipient of the Heritage Writer’s Award—Kentucky writer Bobbie Ann Mason.  Mason’s work brings to literary life the common folk and the everyday working classes—living, learning, and trying to cope and survive in the complex world they find before them.  

The book also contains stories by two winners of the 2010 West Virginia Fiction Competition selected by Mason.  Mason wrote of Natalie Sypolt’s “Save the Lettuce”: “This is a tight, controlled, powerful story.  Nothing is overdone.”  Like Mason’s award-winning novel In Country, Sypolt’s short fiction piece is a powerful story about war without the war. 

Elizabeth Johnston’s story “Benjamin’s Wall” is written, as Mason says, with “quiet power . . . both serious and humorous.”  Mason continues: “It is more powerful to watch someone struggling with emotion—either to contain it or to release it—than to watch someone weep and wail.”  In Johnston’s story, there is a “quiet tension of trying to deal with one’s emotions . . . the emotion is not only grief, but how to handle grief.  And this makes it much more complicated,” providing for the reader with “tension in the character that becomes the story more than the grief itself.”

Storytellers, poets and essayists from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and other states in the region are also published in the book, supported by The West Virginia Center for the Book and The Shepherd University Foundation.  The work of Pushcart nominee Justin Anderson, as well as award-winning poets Mark DeFoe, Llewellyn McKernan, Lena Cantrell McNicholas, Edwina Pendarvis, Sue Silver and others grace the pages of this volume, as do the photographic art of some of the best photographers in the region. 

Readings from the anthology will be on September 27, 2011, at 7:00 p.m., at the Byrd Legislative Center at Shepherd University, and a reception for the writers and photographic artists in the volume will follow at 8:00 p.m. in the Scarborough Library Reading Room.  These and other events will be part of the 2011 Appalachian Heritage Writers Project and Festival.

For information about the Appalachian Heritage Writers Project and the Appalachian Studies Program, see  The 2012 volume will be devoted to the writing of Carolina poet and novelist Ron Rash, who will serve as editorial advisor for the book and the next Appalachian Heritage Writer-n-Residence.


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