Crossing Troublesome
25 years of the Appalachian Writer's Workshop

A retrospective looking to the future on the 25th anniversary of the Appalachian Writers Workshop and the 100th year of Hindman Settlement School.  

Edited by Leatha Kendrick and George Ella Lyon with a preface by Robert Morgan.

 Includes personal reminiscences, photographs, tributes and vignettes from the Workshop, as well as writers' comments on the influence of the Writers Workshop on the body of Appalachian literature and the place of that literature on the world stage. 

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Hindman Settlement School's major educational emphasis today is its program for children with learning differences & dyslexia.  In addition, as sponsor and host of many special events, the school remains dedicated to preserving the rich traditions of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia:

– Appalachian Family Folk Week
– Appalachian Writers Workshop
– The Marie Stewart Crafts Shop
– Artists-in-residence in public schools

Click here for further information:
Hindman Settlement School

From the book --

The culture of the Appalachian Writers Workshop is at once thoroughly Appalachian and deeply literary. There is probably more respect for literature as a serious human endeavor here than at any other institution I've known. I think the reason is that Appalachians know that reading and storytelling and writing and speaking are all about the essential, deep, intimate connection created by human voices calling to one another across space and time through the spoken and written word. 
    -- Meredith Sue Willis, 
        South Orange, NJ

A note from the editors --

Those of us who have been at Hindman during the past twenty five years know that something important has happened there. Something important has happened to many of us individually (as this book attests), and through that one-by-one transformation, something has happened to the region's literature as well. The Appalachian Writers Workshop has nurtured seeds of writing that have flowered far beyond Knott County, beyond Appalachia, beyond what many would classify as "Appalachian literature." Writers, both famous and unknown, have come to Hindman and found sustenance, community, inspiration and instruction. 

Albert Stewart prepared the ground for the conference as we know it: Albert Stewart had the vision to see how important it was to center a conference in the heart of the east Kentucky hills. Stewart's return to Knott County and the presence of James Still in Hindman added credibility and substance to the eventual settling of the Appalachian Writers Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School. Mike Mullins took the conference in hand in 1978, soon after taking over as Director of the Settlement School.

Early on, the idea came to us to arrange the book spatially and temporally, so that a reader might feel that he had physically experienced being at this gathering of writers in August. This book is not and was never intended to be an "anthology" of miscellaneous writings, but rather it was conceived to be an evocation, recreation and contextualization of the Appalachian Writers Workshop. Thus, the text moves from the crossing itself, to the heart of the days' classes and meals, then to the evening singing and outward to "Hindman Worldwide." Here you will find personal reminiscences mixed with tributes and vignettes. Along the way, some writers comment on the influence of the Writers Workshop on the body of Appalachian literature and the place of that literature on the world stage.

The effect, we hope, is to document a generation of writing in Appalachia -"generation" here referring as much to the genesis of the writing as it does to the generational group of writers producing it during the past 25 years. 
                                 – Leatha Kendrick

from "There's No One in Charge at Hindman"

I like the map of key roads leading into Hindman that Mike uses on the back of his annual brochure. It's hand-drawn and makes Hindman look like the hub of the universe. Which in some ways, of course, it really is to those of us who have been here. There are the spokes swirling around it: Huntington, Abingdon, Knoxville, Berea, Lexington. Labeled are I-75, I-64, I-81, 23, 80, 119, 160. But the most wonderful thing about the map is the small note Mike has appended at the bottom: "Heavy Lines Indicate Best Route." Only someone with far better eyes than mine could possibly determine which lines are truly the heavy ones, which the light. I like that image, somehow. It's perfect for Hindman. There are no "heavy ones" at this place, no "best." At least not as far as I could ever determine.
         -- Joyce Dyer, Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio

A Memory . . . 
Troublesome Creek

sidles along
a Knotted path
its waters swelling
then receding
with the coming up
and going down
of this place
its bed silts
with the song 
of this place
its bridge beckons
to the hill
then into the trees
hung heavy 
with our words
of this place

-- Pam Sexton
    Lexington, Kentucky

On the Porch at Preece: Nightfall
      (for Ron Rash)

"…'cause I want to get right with God…"
Lucinda Williams

Stomp and thump
ringed the porch,
our stage of praise
to the night, the glory
hallelujah of words.

Shout that amen, brother!
Wave those arms, sister!

We sing the wild hymns
the ancient redemption tale,
dance the healing steps
the sounds beating
down on us like rain.
Our stories carry over the mountain
baptizing all who will listen.

-- Marianne Worthington, Cumberland College
    Williamsburg, Kentucky

from "Stories of the Leaf Writers"

. . . The yearly ritual for me of traveling through Pound Gap and winding over the mountains is a type of homecoming. Down through the years the strongest memories of all focus on the fellow participants and staff who have so encouraged and inspired me. Over the years I've been privileged to work with Barbara Smith, George Ella Lyon, Jeff Daniel Marion, Lee Smith, Robert Morgan, Michael McFee, Gurney Norman, Ron Rash, Jack Higgs, and many more. And in the same way as family and home, Hindman is a haunted place for me; the shadow of the man whose spirit informs its every aspect, Jim Wayne Miller, lingers in the back of every room always, and Hariette Arnow, Cratis Williams, Al Stewart, and James Still feature prominently in the collective memory of the place.
         --Rita Quillen, Virginia