Kentucky's poet laureate visits ASU April 2-3

Article Published: Mar. 25, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Kentucky's poet laureate visits ASU April 2-3

Kentucky poet laureate Gurney Norman will visit ASU April 2-3.

Photo submitted

Author Gurney Norman will be on the campus of Appalachian State University April 2-3 to conduct writing workshops and to share work inspired by Beech Mountain storyteller Ray Hicks.

The event originally was scheduled for Feb. 19-20, but was postponed because of inclement weather.
On Friday, April 2, Norman will join Watauga County storyteller Orville Hicks to present "Jack Tales: Yesterday and Tomorrow." The presentation begins at 1 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Table Rock Room.

Hicks will tell the Jack tales that won him a North Carolina Heritage Award, and Norman will discuss how storytelling and shared memory can inform efforts toward sustainable development in the Appalachian region.

On Saturday, April 3, at 3 p.m., Norman will join local storytellers, including Hicks, for a story swap and discussion of how to perpetuate local storytelling traditions at the Matney Community Center on Beech Mountain.

During his visit to the area, Norman also will spend time with students at Appalachian State University and with storytellers on Beech Mountain.

During the past 30 years, Norman has been a major force in the literary and cultural renaissance throughout the Appalachian region. He has published three novels - Divine Right's Trip (Gnomon Press 1990), Book One From Crazy Quilt: A Novel in Progress (Larkspur Press, 1990) and Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories (Gnomon Press, 1977).

He also has co-edited two collections of literary criticism and written three documentary films about the Appalachian region.

Norman is the director of the University of Kentucky Creative Writing Program and was honored as Kentucky's poet laureate in 2009.

Hicks of Deep Gap has been recognized as a "keeper of North Carolina's folk heritage." His mother, Sarah Ann Harmon Hicks, told tales to her children as nighttime entertainment and to pass time while they were doing tedious farm work.

As a young man, Hicks often visited the home of storyteller Ray Hicks in western Watauga County.
Their home was a notable setting for the performance of tales and songs, and the presence of Orville Hicks and friends became occasions for folktale performances in which he learned and practiced the Beech Mountain Jack tales.

In 1997, the North Carolina Folklore Society presented Hicks with its Brown-Hudson Folklore Award.
The events are sponsored by Appalachian's Center for Appalachian Studies and University College, along with financial support from the Southern Arts Federation and the University Forum Committee.

For more information or directions, contact Tom Hansell at (828) 262-7730 or (

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