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Kentucky's poet laureate visits ASU Feb. 19-20

Article Published: Feb. 11, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Kentucky's poet laureate visits ASU Feb. 19-20

Author Gurney Norman will be on the campus of Appalachian State University Feb. 19-20 to conduct writing workshops and share work inspired by Beech Mountain storyteller Ray Hicks.

Norman will present two talks open to the public while in the area. On Friday, Feb. 19, he will join Watauga County storyteller Orville Hicks to present "Jack Tales: Yesterday and Tomorrow" beginning at 1 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union.

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.

The program is being held in conjunction with the Appalachian Fiddlers Convention Feb. 19 and 20 in Plemmons Student Union.

Norman will join local storytellers including Hicks for a story swap and discussion of how to perpetuate local storytelling traditions on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 3 p.m. at the Matney Community Center on Beech Mountain.

The programs are sponsored by the Appalachian's Center for Appalachian Studies with financial support from University College and the University Forum Committee, and the Southern Arts Federation.

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

Norman has been a major force in the literary and cultural renaissance throughout the Appalachian region for the past 30 years. He has published three novels, "Divine Right's Trip," "Book One From Crazy Quilt: A Novel in Progress" and "Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories."

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

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