F*ckface and Other Stories by Leah Hampton: the real stories of modern Appalachia

The name of Leah Hampton’s new book will likely grab your attention. If it does, let it pull you in. This is one book you will be glad to have judged by its cover. 

Dangerous material; celebrating banned books

By Boyd Allsbrook • SMN Contributor | What do To Kill A Mockingbird, Harry Potter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and 1984 all have in common? Apart the obvious fact of their bookhood, you’d struggle to find anything thematically similar between them. But this assortment of classics, modern novels, and fantasies are all related in an important way. All have, at some point, been banned from schools or libraries. 

A train ride through Prohibition-era NC

“We are here on this earth separated from God, so that we might learn and grow.” — Jedidiah Robbins

If there’s anything to the bumperstickers that read “Buy Local” (and I think there is), then that not only applies to the food produced in our region but the literature too.

David Joy releases latest novel 'When These Mountains Burn'

Situated at the corner of N.C. 107 and 281, in the Tuckasegee community of rural Jackson County, is a newly-built Dollar General. And sitting in his pickup truck in the convenience store parking lot one recent afternoon is acclaimed author David Joy. 

The roots of Joy: Ron Rash and Western Carolina University

Acclaimed Appalachian writer and poet Ron Rash has made a substantial impact on American literature during his three-decade career, but one of his most enduring legacies may be the influence he’s had on a whole crop of younger writers, like Jackson County author David Joy.

Passionate about print: a review of A Literate South

For many years, most of us who read histories and biographies about America between 1800 and 1865 assumed the seat of literacy and learning was in New England. The plantation and professional classes of the Antebellum South were of course readers, and in some cases writers, relatively wealthy men and women who enjoyed the luxury of newspapers or the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Few would have thought the yeoman farmers and townspeople of that age and place might be equally passionate about print and literature. 

Fred Chappell releases new poetry collection

The purpose of a writer is to take observations on life and distill those sights and sounds into words and sentiments reflecting the way the wind is blowing at a particular juncture in time. 

It’s also a purpose as to show the reader just how common and repetitive the themes of human nature are throughout the centuries and millennia. For we as a species tend to not stray far from our usual thoughts and actions: love and hate, fear and compassion, war and peace. 

A writer’s retreat: GSMA offers writing residency in the Smokies

Steve Kemp moved to the Great Smoky Mountains in 1987 for what would become a 30-year career with the Great Smoky Mountains Association, and following his 2017 retirement GSMA is looking to honor his contributions to the organization through a new writer’s residency. 

“There is a specific skill in writing in a way that engages the reader and inspires curiosity and passion in the reader, and that’s what we want to be able to cultivate,” said Laurel Rematore, executive director of GSMA, “because we’re in the business of helping people to connect with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, connect on an emotional level so they will take care of it.”

Finding inspiration in banned books

My mom was a librarian and my dad an English teacher so books were always stacked on the dining room table or tossed on the floor beside recliners. As a young girl, I carried a novel with me all the time. 

My very favorite book was The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I remember hiding it on the shelf at my elementary school library so no one else could check it out. I think I read it at least 10 times in a three-year span. It’s funny I didn’t ask my parents to just buy it for me, but these were the days before Amazon and there was something magical about holding it in my possession for only a short period of time. 

An antidote to our society’s hysteria

Over the past few decades, our society has pushed for more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students. Countries like China and India have far outstripped America and Western Europe in the number of graduates they have produced in these fields. Some observers of future trends fear that that this lack of engineers and scientists will have negative repercussions on our technology and our living standards. 

These concerns are undoubtedly valid and worthy of our consideration, and we should encourage young people to enter these fields of study if they find satisfaction in those endeavors. 

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