Tag Archives: West Virginia

Gems of the Backlist: MOUNTAINEER JAMBOREE by Ivan Tribe

Mountaineer JamboreeHere at the University Press of Kentucky, we’re in the middle of a program to digitize all of the books that we’ve published since our founding in 1943. It’s a lot of work going through over 1300 books, but it’s been a process full of fun surprises and astounding discoveries. Best of all, every now and then, there’s a book that we just can’t put down—a book so good we just can’t resist sharing it with you again:

Our Marketing Assistant, Blair, was pulling descriptions for books in our backlist digitization program, when the cover of Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia caught her eye. The picture of Blaine Smith and his gang (ca. 1940) on the cover really captures the spirit of those heady days when the Mountain State rivaled Nashville as a mecca for country singers and instrumentalists from all over America . . . but hey—what’s going on with that guy?

Yeah . . . THAT guy—the one who brought a revolver, a pipe, and a stuffed deer to the photo shoot. We really liked his spirit, and this interesting book has been on my “to-read” shelf ever since.

As Nashville’s dominance has grown, West Virginia’s leadership in country music has lessened; but Ivan Tribe’s book relives and preserves an exciting period in music history. This romp through the golden age of radio in the Mountain State also highlights the stars that made programs like the WWVA Jamboree great: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Red Sovine, Blaine Smith, Curly Ray Cline, Grandpa Jones, the Bailey Brothers, and many, many more:

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Celebrating Appalachia and Helen Matthews Lewis

Home to approximately 25 million people, Appalachia is nestled in hills and steeped in tradition. It ranges from the southern tip of New York State down to the northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. It is a region of abundant natural beauty and natural resources, of folk songs and farmland, of dialects and powerful voices that hold powerful opinions.

However, some Americans don’t see Appalachia in such a light. Their view is clouded by jokes and stereotypes of the ignorant, racist “hillbilly” who doesn’t speak properly, of the “trailer trash” who always drinks moonshine and never wears shoes. Although the region struggles with certain problems such as poverty, its people and culture are not stereotypes to ridicule. They are diverse, intelligent, and ever-hopeful.

Helen Matthews LewisThis is what Helen Matthews Lewis, known as the “Mother of Appalachian Studies,” has helped others to see throughout her lifetime and career. A Georgia native, Helen has worked with miners in the coalfields of southwest Virginia and has worked with the communities of Jellico, Tennessee; McDowell County, West Virginia; and Ivanhoe, Virginia. She helped give birth to Appalachian Studies and has taught and lectured at many of the leading educational institutions in the Appalachian region. Among her other contributions, she has mentored seminarians working in the mountains; been involved in adult and community educational programs throughout the region and abroad; served as President of the Appalachian Studies Association; and held major leadership roles at the Highlander Research and Education Center and Appalshop.

Helen’s story counters negative images and stereotypes, as she has confronted rural poverty, racial prejudice, economic injustice, and traditional gender roles. Her ability to empathize, her moral courage, and her intellectual honesty have made her well-equipped for the fight for social and economic justice in Appalachia. Her life story demonstrates that, with perseverance and passion, change can occur. Communities can be impacted. Lives can be bettered—for generations to come.Helen Matthews Lewis 2

If you want to learn more about Helen Matthews Lewis’s work and Appalachia, pick up a paperback copy of Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).

 

Stuff you Should Know: Mountaintop Removal Mining and Appalachia

It’s no secret that Mountaintop Removal Mining is a hot-button topic in Appalachia, but many people (especially those not living in the region) don’t understand the process behind it or the raging debate happening in the mountains and the courthouses. The Stuff You Should Know Podcast from How Stuff Works has put all of it together in their most recent episode: “What is Mountaintop Removal Mining?“(featuring Kentucky musician and cellist Ben Sollee!)

Listen here: What is Mountaintop Removal Mining? from the Stuff You Should Know Podcast at HowStuffWorks.com

and check out these titles from UPK that tackle the topic of Mountaintop Removal Mining:

Now in Paperback!

978-0-8131-3383-6

$19.95

Something’s Rising collects oral histories from a diverse group of individuals from Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia who are fighting mountaintop removal, an ecologically devastating form of coal mining. Taken together, these voices stand as a testament of what it means to be an Appalachian and demonstrate the value of preserving a culture’s history and spirit through the stories of its people. The authors have chosen twelve unique voices including Jean Ritchie, the “mother of folk,” who doesn’t let her eighty-six years slow down her fighting spirit; Judy Bonds, a tough-talking coal miner’s daughter; Kathy Mattea, the beloved country singer who believes that cooperation is the key to the battle; Larry Bush, who doesn’t back down even when speeding coal trucks are used to intimidate him; and Denise Giardina, the West Virginia writer who ran for governor to bring attention to the mountaintop removal issue. Written and edited by native sons of the mountains, these riveting, personal stories are captured in an original and highly readable book.

Silas House is a bestselling novelist of Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and The Coal Tattoo, whose nonfiction has been published in Newsday, Sierra, The Oxford American, No Depression, and elsewhere. In 2008 he won the Helen Lewis Award for Community Service for his efforts in the fight against mountaintop removal.

Jason Howard is the editor of We All Live Downstream and has written for such publications as Equal Justice Magazine, Paste, Kentucky Living, The Louisville Review, and many others.

“This revelatory work is a challenging tocsin shouting out the effects of poverty and exploitations of the Appalachian people by strip miners and other corporate pirates. I am reminded of the fighting spirit of the Eastern Kentuckians when I visited these embattled pioneers in their hills and hollers. Here, Jean Ritchie and others speak out in the fighting tradition of the 1930s and 1960s. It is oral history at its best.”—Studs Terkel

978-0-8131-2441-4

$30.00

In late 1994, wells in Pie, West Virginia, began to go dry, leaving many residents of the small coal-mining town without potable water. When local housewife Trish Bragg made a few phone calls in an effort to solve this problem, she had no idea that her inquiries would eventually lead to her becoming the named plaintiff in a major lawsuit, a summa cum laude college graduate, and a hero of her community. Moving Mountains recounts the struggle of Trish Bragg and other ordinary West Virginians for fair treatment by the coal companies that dominate the local economies of southern West Virginia. The collateral effects of mountaintop removal, deep mining, and other mining practices are felt most profoundly in the communities that supply much of the labor for these mining operations, which results in divided loyalties among families that have made their living from coal mining for generations. Author Penny Loeb spent nine years chronicling the triumphs and setbacks of people in the West Virginia coalfields–people caught between the economic opportunities provided by coal and the detriments to health and to quality of life that are so often the by-products of the coal industry. The result of her work is an account of the human and environmental costs of coal extraction, and the inspirational grassroots crusade to mitigate those costs.

“Loeb, a former senior editor for U.S. News and World Reports, is cautious and sensitive in her portrayals of the individuals and incidents depicted in [Moving Mountains]. She balances extrapolations of the technical details and reasons for the lawsuits with well-documented information concerning local residents’ cultural and emotional struggles, some of whom had generations of employment by the coal industry…[Loeb] provides a thorough, analytical account of the complexity of the situation as it evolved and the emotional turmoil.” — Appalachian Journal


978-0-8131-9187-4

$30.00

The Dreiser Committee, including writers Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, and Sherwood Anderson, investigated the desperate situation of striking Kentucky miners in November 1931. When the Communist-led National Miners Union competed against the more conservative United Mine Workers of America for greater union membership, class resentment turned to warfare. Harlan Miners Speak, originally published in 1932, is an invaluable record that illustrates the living and working conditions of the miners during the 1930s. This edition of Harlan Miners Speak, with a new introduction by noted historian John C. Hennen, offers readers an in-depth look at a pivotal crisis in the complex history of this controversial form of energy production.

Harlan Miners Speak is an important testament to the hardships endured by miners and their families during the turbulent and poverty-ridden era of the Great Depression. The words of those miners are loud and clear in this volume, and they are worth hearing again.” —Modern Mountain Magazine

Available in paperback!

978-0-8131-9244-4

$17.95

In 1995, Chris Holbrook burst onto the southern literary scene with Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia, stories that Robert Morgan described as “elegies for land and lives disappearing under mudslides from strip mines and new trailer parks and highways.” Now, with the publication of Upheaval, Holbrook more than answers the promise of that auspicious debut. In eight interrelated stories set in Eastern Kentucky, Holbrook again captures a region and its people as they struggle in the face of poverty, isolation, change, and the devastation of land and resources at the hands of the coal and timber industries. Written with a gritty, unflinching realism reminiscent of the work of Larry Brown and Cormac McCarthy, the stories in Upheaval prove that Holbrook is not only a faithful chronicler and champion of Appalachia’s working poor but also one of the most gifted writers of his generation.

Chris Holbrook, a native of Knott County, Kentucky, received the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing for Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Holbrook is associate professor of English at Morehead State University.

“These eight stories are as finely shaped, and deceptively intricate, as a piece of Shaker furniture…What smolders beneath the surface of these stories is a sea of anxiety and anger, suppressed until the point of, well, upheaval.” —Louisville Courier-Journal