(The Picket)- Not many of us have an impression of Appalachian Culture and what would be written work related to it. If we do often it can be a negative hillbilly stereotype, a picture of a coal miner, or a long-gone native America people. The Appalachian Heritage Festival and Appalachian Writer-in-Residence program were designed to give a different perspective and help promote true Appalachian culture.
This year’s writer-in-residence Charles Frazier is best known for his fiction novel Cold Mountain, first published in 1997 and made into a major motion picture in 2003. Frazier has also published a second novel Thirteen Moons telling a story of coming of age during the Cherokee removal and its aftermath, with a focus on those natives that remained in Appalachia.
Frazier is an author who has a great focus on storytelling and some definitive views about not creating characters that fall into stereotypes. In an interview, earlier this year at Shepherd, Frazier said “In both Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons I was interested in how to tell the Southern Appalachian stories I wanted to tell without falling into hillbilly and “noble savage” stereotypes. A couple of reviews have even criticized my work because, essentially, they didn’t find my main characters dumb enough to be from the Appalachians. I’ve also been thanked by many people from the region for “writing about us the way we really are.” I take that as high praise indeed.”
This is an author with a fresh perspective and ideas that will be wonderful to hear. One of the events this week will feature time to do just that as Frazier discusses his writing and publication with Shepherd Facility member Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt on Wednesday, Sept. 28th at the Byrd Center Auditorium.
The Appalachian Heritage Festival features several other events showcasing both Frazier and various performers of Appalachian Arts, including concerts, lecture, a Community Square Dance at Town Run Brewery and a viewing of the film adaption of Cold Mountain. For a full Schedule of events, you can go to http://www.shepherd.edu/ahwirweb/frazier/schedule .
The Appalachian Heritage Writer’s Award and Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence began by the Shepherd University, the Shepherd University Foundation, and the West Virginia Humanities Council started in 1998 and was intended to honor the works of a contemporary Appalachian author. The residence was designed to work with the Heritage Festival which is held annually and sponsored by the Preforming Arts Series at Shepherd or PASS.
Jessica Sharpless is a reporter for The Picket and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org