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Traditional Mountain Music and Poetry by John and Rachel York at Lees-McRae College on March 7

John and Rachel York
John and Rachel York

Feb. 26, 2013. If winter’s onslaught has given you cabin fever, come to Lees-McRae College Thursday, March 7, for an evening of poetry and music. At 7:00 p.m. in the Stafford Room of Carson Library, the Stephenson Center for Appalachia presents Appalachian poet John York and his balladeer daughter, Rachel, in a program of traditional mountain music and original poetry. 

John Thomas York was born in Winston-Salem in 1953 and grew up in Yadkin County in northwestern North Carolina. He was educated at Appalachian State (where he was a member of the first class of Watauga College, ASU’s residential college), Wake Forest, and Duke, and he has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studied with Fred Chappell. 

His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from many journals, including Appalachian Journal, Kenyon Review, and Tar River Poetry, as well as anthologies such as Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: Contemporary Appalachia. In 2011, he received the first annual James Applewhite Poetry Prize from the North Carolina Literary Review. In March 2012, Press 53 published his first full-length collection, Cold Spring Rising.

York’s daughter, Rachel, is a recent graduate of East Carolina University, where she majored in bass performance and minored in art and design. While at ECU, she also spent a semester in Brazil, where she attended the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and performed in the bass section of the Youth Orchestra. Rachel also has a keen interest in organic farming and has spent several summers working on farms in North Carolina and Illinois. Because of her Appalachian heritage—her mother’s parents are from West Virginia, her father’s, from the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia—Rachel has long had an interest in mountain ballads, especially those performed by Sheila Kay Adams and the late Doc Watson. 

The program will consist of readings from Cold Spring Rising, as well as John York’s newer poems. York will also read work by Appalachian poets Fred Chappell, Jim Wayne Miller, and Kathryn Stripling Byer. Rachel York will provide musical interludes, singing ballads such as “Pretty Saro,” “The Waggoner’s Lad,” and “Fair and Tender Ladies.”

“We look forward to the Yorks’ unique blend of old-time mountain music and fresh, original poems,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College. “Our students eagerly anticipate the program, and we invite everyone to come by to enjoy the show.” 

The Yorks’ performance is free and open to the public. You are invited to attend at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 7, in the Stafford Room of Carson Library of Lees-McRae College. For more information, call Megan Hall at 828-898-8729.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. With 850 students hailing from 40 states and more than 10 countries, Lees-McRae’s broad core curriculum is enhanced by field-specific career preparation and experiential learning with an emphasis in leadership and service. For more information on Lees-McRae College, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828-898-5241.