Posts Tagged ‘Appalachia


Meet the poet laureate: An interview with Gurney Norman

Gurney Norman was a “mountain kid.”

Born in Grundy, Va., in 1937 and raised in western Virginia and eastern Kentucky, Kentucky’s poet laureate has a unique understanding of the Appalachian region, an understanding that has helped him give back to that area again and again through his labor of love — writing.

Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman

Kentucky Poet Laureate Gurney Norman

He has produced a number of works focusing on the Appalachian region. His novel Divine Right’s Trip follows a young man who travels from California back to his native Kentucky. Kinfolks is a collection of short stories about a Kentucky mountain family. He has co-edited two anthologies, Confronting Appalachian Stereotypes: Back Talk from an American Region and An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature. He has written and narrated three documentary films about eastern Kentucky’s rivers and trails for KET: “Time on the River,” “From This Valley” and “Wilderness Road.” He is co-author of three screenplays based on stories from the Kinfolks collection: “Fat Monroe,” “Nightride,” and “Maxine.” His forthcoming novella, Ancient Creek, is a contemporary Appalachian folktale.

A graduate of Stuart Robinson School in Letcher County, Norman majored in journalism and English at the University of Kentucky and studied writing at Stanford University as a Stegner Creative Writing Fellow. Thirty years later, he is leading UK’s Creative Writing Program. He serves as advisor to schools and community-based arts groups in Kentucky and the Appalachian region.

Learn more about the 2009-10 poet laureate, who is also a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, in his interview with KH.
Continue reading ‘Meet the poet laureate: An interview with Gurney Norman’


What are you reading?

By Julie Nelson Satterly

For me, it’s Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal, a recent release for Kentucky author Silas House. Teaming up with Jason Howard, the two provide incredibly interesting oral histories of 12 Appalachians who have devoted their efforts to the anti-mountaintop removal cause.

The book is especially interesting to me, an eastern Kentucky-born girl whose grandfather was an accountant for South East Coal in Irvine before his death, and whose father worked there as a safety director while he finished his journalism degree.

If you’re itching to read a book about Kentucky, check out the latest lineup from the University Press of Kentucky. Their fall catalog will be out in a matter of weeks, and their spring catalog, which features Something’s Rising, can be viewed on UPK’s Web site, You can also sign up for UPK’s newsletter by clicking here.

I’d also urge you to check out the offerings of the Jesse Stuart Foundation, JSF features a number of titles by Kentucky and Appalachian authors, plus controls all of the rights to Kentucky author and teacher Stuart’s published and unpublished literary works.

So what are you reading? Tell us — especially if it relates to Kentucky.