RE-MEMBERING, RE-WEAVING, RE-VISIONING ‘OTHER’ WAYS: CONTEMPORARY WOMEN WRITING IN APPALACHIA
In the fall of 1997, I began a journey with three other women, Dr. Edwina Pendarvis, Ms. Laura Tussey, and Ms. Jan Adkins-Bills, to explore the writing of contemporary women in Appalachia. When we started, we didn’t know what we would find; for we tried to begin without preconceptions, determined to let what we found take its own shape. All three of the women I worked with are contemporary women writing in Appalachia, Dr. Pendarvis and Ms. Tussey primarily poets, and Ms. Adkins-Bills a journal writer. I am the resident outside observer who chooses to call West Virginia (and hence Appalachia) home. Through working with these women, I have become more of a writer–an essayist, a journaler, and a very sometime poet–myself.
Stories as Generational Bonding Agents
A sense of place, or a consciousness of one’s physical and cultural surroundings, is a fundamental human experience. It seems especially strong where people in a neighborhood, a community, a city, or region, possess a collective awareness of place and pass it along in various expressive forms.1 One such expressive medium is represented by the stories people tell. Were it not for word of mouth transmission, the bulk of historical information about gender and ethnic groups, ancestral family members, and their life and times, would be forever lost. Generally, the only formal information we have about these people are names found only on tax rolls, church records, pension lists, and census records.