Dueling Appalachian Poets: A Lees-McRae College Stephenson Center for Appalachia Lecture 

Published Friday, February 16, 2018 at 1:10 pm
 
BANNER ELK, N.C. — The Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College invites everyone to spend an hour with two distinguished Appalachian poets, Dr. Don Johnson and Dr. Jesse Graves, on Thursday, Feb. 22 at Evans Auditorium in the Cannon Student Center beginning at 7 p.m.

The two men have deep roots in the mountains and are Appalachian by birth and by choice.

Johnson, a retired professor and former poet-in-residence at East Tennessee State University, has published critical pieces on Jim Wayne Miller, Jeff Daniel Marion, Fred Chappell and Robert Morgan.  His most recent poetry books are Here and Gone: New and Selected Poems, from Louisiana Literature Press and More Than Heavy Rain, published by Texas Review Press.  He is a two-time winner of the Ruth Berrien Fox Award from the New England Poetry Club and the recipient of a Tennessee Arts Commission Individual Artist Award.

He will read with his colleague, Graves, a current professor and poet-in-residence at East Tennessee State University. His first book, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, won the 2011 Weatherford Award in Poetry from the Appalachian Writers’ Association, and the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. His second collection of poems, Basin Ghosts, won the 2014 Weatherford Award in Poetry, making him the first poet to win the award more than one time.

His poetry has been featured in The Writer’s Almanac, with Garrison Keillor, and in the “Poem of the Week” feature for Missouri Review. His latest volume is Specter Mountain, co-authored with William Wright, and forthcoming from Mercer University Press March 1.

 Graves was awarded the 2014 Philip H. Freund Prize for Creative Writing from Cornell University and the 2015 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is also a 2015 inductee into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.

“We are privileged to have both of these gifted poets as part of our Stephenson Lecture Series. Johnson has been a favorite visitor to Lees-McRae for many years, and he and Graves appeared together here once before. We hope to establish a tradition for the next generation,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. “Both write poetry that speaks to all of us and opens our eyes to the wonder, pain and humour of being human in Appalachia.”

The Stephenson Center for Appalachia Lectures are free and open to the public. For information, contact Dr. Michael Joslin at joslin@lmc.edu.

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