In western North Carolina, at the head of Big Ivy, nestled just below
the Corner Rock, is Dillingham, the place of my birth and childhood. I can still hear the frogs hollering and smell the wild
crabapple blossoms in spring, see the wall of lightning bugs, and
breathe in the heavy, hypnotic aroma of honeysuckle. I love its
spirit and its people—they are the wellspring of my vision.
About twenty minutes away is Flat Creek, my mother's place of birth.
My grandfather Horace Greeley McLean (who died when my mother
was sixteen) ran a little country store. The opening poem, "Americana Rural," is a fictionalized version of a fond,
wry reminiscence of my mother who used to accompany him to the
At its best, this kind of literature achieves the lyricism of Kathryn
Stripling Byer or the folk naturalism of Mildred Haun. It is a
collection of memories; taken in full, it is a series of tableaux
documenting the experience of a mountain woman.
— Rob Neufeld, Asheville Citizen-Times
In Nancy Dillingham's fine new work, Americana Rural, past times
delicately reopen under the careful lyric eye of the poet. Magically,
this focus—"set in the red clay mud like stone"—binds
itself firmly to the perspective of the present. The reader is
guided through temporal layers to the rich textures of another
generation. "It is like poetry" is the refrain that
signals the reader to make ready for travel into a canvas vibrant
with intelligent memory. History, the land, and family beckon
with a "finely formed hand." The reader will enjoy
this journey and the shining details placed on their path.
— Katherine Soniat, The Swing Girl and A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge
Rather than being annoyed by what the writer has left out, in
Dillingham's book the reader is drawn in by the silences between the
words, the spareness, the sensory, the perfectly hone phrases.
Some books are made for keeping, for returning to, for
sticking close by. Such is this book.
— Celia Miles, Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood