This last Saturday I attended an event I had been looking forward to for a very very long time; Voices from the Hills, held at my alma mater, Northern Kentucky University. It was an event focused around the future of Appalachian and Kentucky writing, but more importantly to me, was put together in honor of Danny Miller, the former chair of the English department who passed away very recently, and to raise money for an endowment in his honor.
Danny was an amazing man, who very directly affected the direction of my life. It was through great effort, on his part, that Frank X. Walker was hired as writer-in-residence, which of course directly lead to my induction into the Affrilachian poets, which has had an immeasurable effect on my writing.
I had previously won the under-graduate (at the time of the contest) non-fiction contest for my essay “Folk Traditions as a Conduit for Healing in Gurney Norman’s Kinfolks,” and my family was there to cheer me on as I accepted my award. It marks the first, and possibly only time in my life that I'll be have such a personal investment in an essay. I was writing the essay in a one-on-one class with Danny, who passed away before the essay or the class was complete.
Among the writers at the event were Laura Sutton, Richard Hague, Chris Holbrook, Jeff Mann, Frank X Walker, Marianne Worthington, Gurney Norman (current poet laureate of Kentucky), Crystal Wilkinson, and Wendell Berry. I spent every cent of a check I won for my essay on books at the event, so I'm both inspired and poor.
Story of my life.
In other news, I think I may throw myself into sonnets. Not only because Gary Copeland Lilley, who was suggested to me as someone who I should study, does, but because I've for some time suspected I should study form, specifically something that would force me to think about iambs. I have a side-project tentatively planned about rap and iambic structure, but I have never been very good at it, and I'm not sure I know a single other person in the world who would be interested in both formal poetry structure, and rap.