Participation Type


Session Title

Sustaining a Movement through Appalachian Writers' Gatherings

Session Abstract or Summary

We propose a roundtable discussion of the importance of Appalachian writers’ gatherings to the region. The mid-1970s marked a resurgence of Appalachian literature. It is no coincidence that this literary movement coincided with the official beginning of the Appalachian Studies Association, as both were driven by Appalachian people’s desire to shape the narrative of Appalachia, its history and present experience, and thus to help shape its future. Gatherings of Appalachian writers were and continue to be a critical part of keeping the movement alive. The Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative, organized by Gurney Norman and others, sponsored what became one of the first annual Appalachian writers gathering in 1974. While Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Writers Workshop began in 1978, its history of supporting Appalachian writers precedes that event by many decades, as does that of the John C. Campbell Folk School, founded in 1925 upon Danish folk school principles of shared learning. Lincoln Memorial University’s Mountain Heritage Literary began in 2006; the college now offers multiple writing gatherings for adults and youth. Newer to the scene are the Table Rock Writers Workshop held annually in the North Carolina mountains since 2010, and Thomas More College’s Creative Writing Vision program, founded in 2013, serving urban Appalachian writers and other diverse groups of people from the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati community. We invite all Appalachian writers, the organizations that serve them and other interested people to take part in a lively discussion about the history and future of such literary gatherings.

Presentation #1 Title

Sustaining a Movement through Appalachian Writers' Gatherings

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

See above.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Pauletta Hansel has been a member of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative since 1975, serving as co-coordinator of its annual gathering and (currently) as managing editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She has been on the teaching faculty of both LMU’s Mountain Heritage Festival and Thomas More College’s Creative Writing Vision Program, where she served as writer in residence from 2013-2016. She is Core Member of the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition and Poet Laureate of Cincinnati.

Presentation #2 Title

Lincoln Memorial University's Arts in the Gap and John C. Campbell Folk School

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary

Lincoln Memorial University summer writing programs through Arts in the Gap (AITG) include Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, Cumberland Gap Writers Studio, Appalachian Young Writers Workshop, Playwright Intensive with Lisa Soland, Poet Boot Camp with Aaron Smith, Writing to Heal with Abigail DeWitt, and Acoustic Music Week with Steve Gulley and Friends, We also offer workshops in other artistic disciplines for children and adults.

John C. Campbell Folk School ("Folk School") is a nonprofit school founded in 1925 upon Danish folk school principles of shared learning. The school is open year-round and offers up to 20 different writing classes per year, weeklong and weekend, and classes on dozens of subjects, in addition to writing.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Darnell Arnoult, poet, fiction writer, and essayist, is Writer-in-Residence at Lincoln Memorial University, where she directs summer writing programs including Mountain Heritage Literary Festival and Appalachian Young Writers Workshop. She is also faculty at John C. Campbell Folks School, Table Rock Writers Workshop, and LitOut Workshops, and taught for years at Learning Events.

Presentation #3 Title

Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary

In 1974, a group of writers and activists gathered at Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee, to form what became the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. From its very beginning, SAWC was intended to support writers in our efforts to take control of our regional identity and to take action, individually and collectively, on the issues that impact our land and our people. For over four decades, the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative has provided a place for us to come together to share our work and our struggles, and to ponder how these things affect, not only our work, but also our relationships with each other, with the region and with the broader culture. SAWC has met (almost) annually since this time, usually at Highlander Research and Education Center and always in the fall. Through this and other SAWC Writers Gatherings and by sponsoring local readings and the literary magazine Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative continues its original mission to foster community, activism and publication among Appalachia's writers.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Scott Goebel has been co-coordinator of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative Annual Gathering and is a past editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. His work has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Appalachian Journal, Wind Magazine, Appalachian Voice, Now & Then, Iron Mountain Review and other journals. He edited Jim Webb’s Get In, Jesus (Wind Publications, 2013.)

Presentation #4 Title

Hindman Settlement School

Presentation #4 Abstract or Summary

For over a hundred years, Hindman Settlement School has been the seedbed of the Appalachian literary tradition. In addition to our summer residency, the Appalachian Writers' Workshop, we offer fall and spring writers' retreats and The Makery, a new online studio for writers of place. For more, visit

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

Rebecca Gayle Howell lives in Knott County, Kentucky, where she serves as James Still Writer-in-Residence at the Hindman Settlement School. Her most recent book is American Purgatory, selected by Don Share for the 2016 Sexton Prize.

Presentation #5 Title

Table Rock Writers Workshop

Presentation #5 Abstract or Summary

The mission of Table Rock is to provide a generous, supportive environment for adult writers at all levels of experience to reflect on the challenges and rewards of writing and to focus on improving their craft. The workshop also fosters a spirit of community where all participants may receive an honest and sensitive appraisal of works in progress.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #5

Georgann Eubanks directed the Duke University Writers' Workshop for 20 years before launching the Table Rock Writers Workshop held annually in the North Carolina mountains since 2010. Georgann’s three guidebooks from UNC Press in the Literary Trails series cover the long history of North Carolina writers and their relationship to place.

Presentation #6 Title

Thomas More College's Creative Writing Vision Program

Presentation #6 Abstract or Summary

Thomas More College's Creative Writing Vision Program provides interactive, discussion-based literary arts programs that bridge diverse groups of people from the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati community, including urban Appalachian writers. With a strong focus on Appalachian culture, the project also provides students with unique service and professional development opportunities. Key elements of Creative Writing Vision include a Writer-in-residence focused on community outreach, special events targeted toward underserved or non-traditional populations, undergraduate creative writing teaching assistantships, on and off campus programs that inspire writing and reflective interchange, a visiting authors series in collaboration with Joseph Beth Book Sellers, readings and workshops at local libraries and schools, community writing retreats and professional development opportunities in creative writing pedagogy for K-12 teachers. CWV offers over 30 events annually with the goal of involving people in long-term, collaborative relationships and active exploration of the literary arts.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #6

Sherry Cook Stanforth teaches creative writing and ethnic/environmental literatures at Thomas More College. She is founder/director of the Creative Writing Vision program and a Pine Mountain Sand &Gravel co-editor. Some recent publications include Drone String (Bottom Dog Press) and a river-inspired anthology forthcoming from Dos Madres Press.

Conference Subthemes

Diversity and Inclusion, Education

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Sustaining a Movement through Appalachian Writers' Gatherings

See above.