Plurality And Diversity In The Writings Of Affrilachian Women


Shaina D. W. Taylor

Appalachian (n) — a white native or resident of the Appalachian mountain area1

A century after Effie Waller Smith wrote odes to her beloved Cumberland Mountains, Kentucky poet, Frank X Walker, found himself lacking a semantic identity. Walker came face to face with this realization when he attended a conference called “The Best of Southern Writing” in 1991. The title of the event was changed from “The Best in Appalachian Writing” to “The Best of Southern Writing” only when Nikky Finney, an African American, was added to the panel of writers.2 The name change prompted Walker to look up the term “Appalachian,” and he was shocked to find the word defined in decidedly white terms. 3 Walker reached this realization decades after performance poet Patricia Johnson did. Johnson was taught from a young age that “Appalachians were poor white people,” and she remained acutely aware that her family was neither white nor poor. 4 As an African American who lived in Appalachia, Frank X Walker remarked, “I felt as if I were being locked out of something important to me. Something that had always been a part of who I am.” 5 Refusing to remain invisible, Walker coined a term that would serve as the title for the identity he and countless other African Americans who inhabit the hills had searched for—Affrilachian. In addition to challenging accepted notions of “whiteness,” the existence of the Affrilachian poets expands cultural definitions of gender and race in Appalachia.

Affrilachian poetry incorporates many features Erika Abrams Locklear lists as essential to Appalachian literature—“a rural Appalachian setting (usually including a holler, cove, or isolated mountain valley), a strong sense of family […], a deep connection to the place of Appalachia.” Locklear also includes one feature of Appalachian writing that the Affrilachians most certainly defy—the anticipation “that the characters and authors of Appalachian literature are white.” Virginia C. Fowler observes that “Although white Americans rarely acknowledge it, many elements of southern culture have some of their deepest roots in Africa.” 6 The most notable feature of Affrilachian writing is its roots in traditional forms of Appalachian writing—for the works of Affrilachian women ultimately tie back to place, the lull and call of location, intimately shaping how they view both gender and race. Appalachia is their home, and their writing stands to show that they claim just as much ownership as any “white native or resident.” 7

Frank X Walker may have given the Affrilachian movement its name, but he is not the only poet contributing to its voice. 8 One member, Crystal Wilkinson, confesses that without the Affrilachian Poets, she “would have continued to be a closet writer.” 9 Closeted, however, is the condition of certain genres occupying the fringes of American literature, which have selectively been included in the literary canon to add the flair of local color or to highlight some small slice of a larger social or political trend. Until quite recently, the literary world had just begun to acknowledge material so far removed from the white-male “norm.” The works of Affrilachian women writers triumphantly emerge out of the closet, smashing stereotypes of marginalized literature in spite of background. This conversation, this celebration, belongs to them, not only to “say” but to show they are indeed “here.” For the Affrilachians, the strong sense of “here-ness” ties directly back their sense of place—a place finally beginning to accept their existence.

Just as Affrilachian poetry embodies traditional Appalachian literary forms, it also embraces its roots in African-American literary history. Building upon the tradition the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, writers of the Black Arts Movement “offered an affirmation of black identity rather than simply a protest against white racism.” 10 The acknowledgement of the Black Arts Movement writers, who created their works specifically for social change, acts as one of the most distinct differences between the two “renaissances” in African-American literature. Much like the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, Affrilachians have long faced unabashed judgment based on the color of their skin rather than the merit of their writing. Choosing to collect themselves under the umbrella of a collective identity was natural because, as Nikky Finney comments, “the Affrilachian Writers are an extension of every other Black Arts movement there ever was and ever will be.” 11 Naming themselves “Affrilachians” continues the empowerment of earlier movements.

Although tradition and naming have long been measures of empowerment for African Americans, fitting the Affrilachians into one singular genre or subgenre of literature ignores the plurality and diversity the Affrilachians explore in their writing. Poet Shayla Lawson provides the best definition of the Affrilachian “voice” when she writes:

There is no one Affrilachian voice. The writers within the collective have very distinct philosophies of writing, cultures, and backgrounds. It is not like the Beat voice or the Slam voice where Affrilachian poetry is related to a particular political movement, subgenre or group. 12

Crystal Good concedes this point, noting, “With anything there’s individuality. Not all black people, not all women, not all people from West Virginia, not all people from Kanawha County have the same voice. There’s always going to be some sort of tension with any group you label.” 13 doris davenport concurs, writing, “there is no monolithic ‘Affrilachian’ poetry or person or art just as there is not just one type of ‘Eurolachian.’” 14  Nikky Finney notes that “Being an Affrilachian poet means that these black poets have founded a country where we might stand, stake a flag, and hear each other.” 15 Of the Affrilachian voice, Crystal Wilkinson notes that the name “has been defined by some as a divisive title, but naming one’s self and reclaiming one’s identity is empowering. When someone is invisible, the reclamation sheds light. Says ‘I am here.’ […] Naming ourselves dispels the myth that we do not exist.” 16

Not only are the Affrilachians here, they making themselves heard, carrying the heritage of multiple literary styles and fundamental beliefs in their writing. By consenting to exist within the bounds of Appalachia, itself an uneasily identified beast, the Affrilachians do much to combat the supposed nature of Appalachian heritage as “a monochromatic subculture within white America.” 17 The very influences bearing on Affrilachian poetry, especially those of women, contributes to the diversity it now lends its so-called “monochromatic” home among the hills. The manifestations of such influences in the works of women writers from one of the bastions of the Affrilachian movement, Crystal Wilkinson, to Charleston, West Virginia, native Crystal Good, provide rich contributions to both culture and literature although they reside outside the bounds of the “norm.” As previous definitions of “Appalachian” demonstrate, the definition of “normal” often excludes certain individuals.

Women devoted to a life of letters have always faced prejudice from the publishing world. The fact may be brushed off as an archaic complaint in a day and age in which women are poised to overcome men in numbers on both college campuses and in the workforce, but such a disparity still occurs. 18 This gender disparity is further compounded with the addition of race. As Barbara Ellen Smith asserts, black women have historically had to answer to both white and black perceptions of gender, as “the social ideology of white supremacy tended to construct two races but four genders.” 19  Even the Black Arts Movement, or BAM, of the mid-1960s created problems for women writers with its less than subtle masculine leanings. In recent scholarship concerning the BAM, Karen Jackson Ford states that many female writers “were faced with the impossible task of being revolutionary poets, who were aggressive, irreverent, and menacing, while being supportive black women, who were submissive, reverent to black men, and feminine.” 20 For decades, the gender issues in the works of black women were shaped by the agendas of black men. The emergence of the Affrilachian women, who serve no one’s agenda, does much to combat this practice.

Though she is not an Affrilachian, George Ella Lyon still carries a firsthand account of facing gender bias as a writer. In her essay, “Appalachian Women Poets: Breaking the Double Silence,” Lyon writes:

To speak as an Appalachian woman means to push two hands away from your mouth […] you are outside the mainstream of literature as it is published and taught. Your experience seems trivial, narrow, other. Likewise, if you are Appalachian, you are perceived outside the parade of American culture. 21

Joyce Dyer echoes Lyon’s sentiments when she writes, “Few groups of women writers have suffered as many literary injustices as those from the southern hills. They have had to bear injustices caused by their gender as well as by their place.” 22 Like all women writing in Appalachia, the female Affrilachian writers share the same “double-bind” in making their voices heard. They refuse, however, to accommodate or “to muffle their authentic voices, write at a distance from themselves; write, if at all possible, like men.” 23 Part of the authenticity of the female Affrilachians is that they do not distance themselves from their writing—the voices are entirely their own.

Many Affrilachian writers fully embrace womanhood in their writing. For example, Crystal Wilkinson writes, “Black women have held up my world. My grandmother, my mother, my cousins, me, my daughters. It is imperative in my work to highlight black women. Black women and the ways in which we move around in the world is one of the primary focuses in my writing. In fact, it is the primary focus.” 24 Crystal Good echoes these sentiments, which directly shape how she views the world around her, saying, “I see the mountain as a woman. I see the landscape as a woman, and I think that’s probably a direct influence because I have been raised in such a female sort of environment.” 25 Good claims that the network of Affrilachians helped her overcome the challenges she has faced as an African-American female poet, commenting, “To be a black female and be on the cover of Poets and Writers [magazine] like Ms. Nikky Finney, it doesn’t happen. I do know that there are obstacles out there, but the beautiful thing about my life now is that I do have a network of supportive people around me.” 26 For some, though, the focus on being a “black” woman confuses the problem.

“Intelligent / unorthodox / lesbian-feminist / outspoken / beautiful / Afracentric / Artist,” doris davenport, believes gender is the true root of discrimination for female Affrilachian poets—“The issue is MISOGYNY plus whitemalesupremacy [sic], not whether I or any other woman has had ‘challenges.’ In a misogynistic, whitesupremacist culture like this one, we ALL must live through and beyond myriad ‘challenges.’” 27 Like Wilkinson and Good, davenport celebrates the most important women in her life; however, never one to assume the position of a victim, davenport faced criticism from the lesbian-feminist publishing companies, saying, “For some wimmin [sic] editors, my poems weren’t overtly lesbian or feminist enough.” 28 Just as Frank X Walker formed the Affrilachians in response to the “whiteness” of the Appalachian definition, davenport never shies away from drawing attention to the Caucasian-framed mindset of the “wimmin’s movement.” Rather, davenport edges her “radical/lesbian/feminist consciousness” entirely within the parameters of her Affrilachian roots. By celebrating women while also shedding new light on the issues most prevalent to them, doris davenport’s humor and blatant honesty lend a decidedly unique voice to the complex topic of gender in Appalachia.

Like gender, race has affected both the intended cause of particular literary movements and the reception of such works in mainstream criticism. Historically, African-American writers have faced the challenge of living in a country that “relegated black people to second-class citizenship” and assigned a low value to their artistic contributions as well. Such sentiments are revealed by one reviewer of Gwendolyn Brooks work, Louis Simpson, who notes that he was not sure if “it is possible for a Negro to write well without making us aware he is a Negro. On the other hand, if being a Negro is the only subject, the writing is not important.” Thus, just as women writers in Appalachia combat two-pronged discrimination based on their gender and location, African-American writers face a similar “double-bind” in asserting their racial identity in works that are highly valued. In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Dubois refers to this predicament as a “double-consciousness,” asserting that African Americans suffer from a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” As an offshoot of the Black Power movement, the Black Arts movement stressed the importance of black nationality. Although most writers incorporated the importance of “black pride, black dignity, and black self-determination,” the rhetoric of a singular, group identity did not translate so well into the arts. 29

Nikki Giovanni found herself a burgeoning poet in this struggle to cultivate a black voice while maintaining black individuality. The radical and racial elements of Giovanni’s early poetry were written, in part, to “demythologize and take the venom injected by white people” out of the language used to describe African Americans. In her first volume of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk, Giovanni writes with a specifically black audience in mind—hoping that the black community would stop “looking at themselves as white America looks at them, to recognize that white America seeks their destruction, and to seek power through uniting with each other.” In “The True Import of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro,” Giovanni juxtaposes various racist labels with one another to form the realization of a “black” identity, or, as Sarah Webster Fabio writes, “the selfhood and soul of anyone with one drop of black blood, in America, who does not deny himself,” something distinctly embraced in Affrilachian poetry30

The very creation of the Affrilachian poets was crafted in response to denial, and numerous authors play vital roles in reclaiming and maintain black identity and black pride. One such author, Huntington, West Virginia, resident Elaine Blue, triumphantly claims the black identity in her first volume of poetry, Moods and Works of Blue, by stating, “My upbringing and the color of my skin kept me conscious of who I was and gave me the authority to name it as I saw it.” 31 Blue recalls an incident during a dramatic reading, saying, “This woman came up to me said ‘you write black stuff.’ I said ‘No, I write about the human condition.’” 32 Blue accepts her identity, but rejects such cookie-cutter classifications, commenting “I didn’t want to be categorized as a black writer of black things or black life. I am a poet. I am a West Virginia poet.” 33 To Blue, being a poet is not about color; it is about truth.

Like Elaine Blue’s poetry, the works of many African-American authors still bear the stain of slavery and white racism. Nikky Finney includes many instances of racial suffering, a subject she refuses to shy away from, in her work. By plucking characters from history or her own family tree, Finney illuminates injustices from medical malpractice, emancipation, and rape as it affected the lives of rural African Americans. In one poem, “Hate,” Finney describes the blatant bigotry of an elected official in South Carolina, who referred to the NAACP as “the National Association for Retarded People,” and the not-so-thinly veiled vestiges of Civil War racism on both slave and slaveholder—even though Finney is writing in the 1990s. 34 Finney continues to document racism of the late twentieth century in “My Old Kentucky Home: Where the darkies are gay,” which concerns the death of an eighteen-year-old boy who was shot point blank in the head by a police officer. 35 Patricia Johnson denotes a similar sort of baseless violence and wasting of life in her poems “In a Place Where” and “The Kink Fell Out of My Hair.” In contrast to the staccato lines of Giovanni and the story-like stanzas of Finney, Johnson uses traditional forms of poetry (the villanelle for instance) to set the rhetoric of loss and grief within the parameters of discipline, thus reclaiming order from senseless violence. 36 One line in “The Kink Fell Out” particularly reflects “the apathy of white people in general to racial inequality and injustice.”37 Johnson uses eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the refrain of the killers when she writes: “They said, ‘Another nigger dead; white folks don’t care.’” 38 Johnson’s described loss is a personal one—the poems detail the lynching of her cousin G.P.

Where Giovanni, Finney, and Johnson draw attention to black identity and racial violence, Crystal Wilkinson uses her writing to draw attention to the significance of black Appalachian culture. As for her race, Wilkinson claims that belonging to the only African-American family in her community helped shape her occupation as a writer, saying, “It was probably a blessing in a strange way. If other black kids were around, I probably would have played more instead of reading and wondering about the world.” 39 Wilkinson comments that the initial reception of her attempts to publish work involve incredulity of her very existence, saying, “One of the first responses to my writing was a challenge. The editor did not believe that there were Black Appalachians.” 40

If utter rejection has moved towards disbelief, Wilkinson’s writing does much to combat the idea that African Americans cannot be found within the bounds of Appalachia. Of her writing, Wilkinson notes “My work gives voice to a contemporary rural African-American experience. Someone expressed to me once that they didn’t realize that black people lived in [Kentucky].” The Kentucky Wilkinson represents in her work demonstrates that black Appalachians do indeed exist. Like the writers of the Black Arts Movement, Wilkinson shares the desire to use her work for a greater social transformation. “My personal goals are simple really,” Wilkinson writes, “To show that African Americans have been a part of that [Appalachian] culture for a long, long time […] The characters in my fiction move around in the same communities as the white people. Appalachia is so diverse.” The embrace of that diversity by the Affrilachian poets can trace its roots all the way back to Effie Waller Smith—the original poet of place. 41

David Deskins notes that “to understand Effie Waller and her accomplishments in this day of free verse and anything-goes poetry, we must put her in historical and literary perspective,” and the historical context of Effie Smith is much different from that of the women previously described. 42  Born in 1879 in rural Kentucky as the child of former slaves, Effie Smith’s work nearly faded from the pages of history. Known as “the singing poet of the Cumberlands,” Smith celebrates the landscapes of her homeland with little thought of critical reception or making a career. 43 In fact, Smith only writes for a brief period likely spanning from 1902 to 1917. 44 Initially, Smith’s poetry can be viewed as written solely for an Appalachian audience, but she was “no isolated, reclusive, or insular mountaineer.” Thorough analysis of Smith’s work indicates that she was well-educated (she obtained her teaching degree from what is now Kentucky State University in Frankfort), well-read, and well-versed in political issues of the time. 45 Her work did much to expand the definitions of “woman” and “Appalachian” by “insisting on a complex and dynamic interplay between African-American, Appalachian, and woman writer”—a tradition the Affrilachian women poets build upon today. 46 Smith’s strong devotion to the poetic conventions of her day, as Deskins notes, may contribute to the reason her work has failed to garner much attention in the present age. 47 Although Smith’s lyrical praise of place seems trite or contrived when read a century later by a modern audience, the tradition of rooting writing to a specific location remains a cherished quality of Appalachian writing.

For some like Effie Waller Smith, Appalachia has and always will be celebrated as home. Like Smith, the strong attachment to place is mirrored by the work of Nikki Giovanni, who considers  400 Mulvaney, the house of her grandmother, to be her home. Giovanni describes Knoxville, Tennessee, as “a place where, no matter what, I belong.” 48 Like Giovanni, doris davenport describes Northeast Georgia as the place “where, when I am most in need of spiritual sustenance, I go. Either physically or mentally, I need to be in the “Hills of Habersham’ […] My home has affected my work on every imaginable level.” 49 However, davenport recognizes that “home” and “place” are problematic, because there is a distinct absence of African-Americans in the Appalachian mindset. She explains that “for Africans and all other people of color […], this place called the U.S.A. has always been made to be unnecessarily problematical [by Euro-Americans].” 50 Of this absence, davenport writes, “Consequently the collective imagination of generic ‘Americans’ is still rather neurotically limited […], ignoring or denying the fact that many of us in rural areas have a passionate personal and collective attachment to ‘our’ land.” 51 Such an attachment carries a visceral importance that cannot be ignored in Affrilachian writing.

Crystal Good expresses some anxiety about her concern with “place,” but she defends her affection for West Virginia, explaining, “that’s where my passion is and things connect there for me because I think it’s a personal quest to figure out my place here. Why I’m here. What is here. What’s special about here. What needs to be fixed.”52 The same love of land can be felt through the works and words of Patricia Johnson whose deep, spiritual connection to nature takes on an ancestral tone. Johnson describes feeling her ancestors in “granules of earth […] Standing in a plowed field, reaching down and picking it up, to smell, inhale, I feel them. I know that they are there.” 53 Although Appalachia is an amorphous geographic region, the reverence for place is displayed by these women—no matter what or where that place is.

As demonstrated by many Affrilachian poets, Appalachia can be adopted as “home,”—no permanent residency required. Nikky Finney describes the complex relationship between her low country, South Carolinian roots and her fairly recent implantation in Kentucky. In correspondence with Theresa Burris, Finney explains “South Carolina is the only home place I will ever have. But I have had other homes […] I moved to Kentucky and to the foothills of the Appalachian [M]ountains for work. I didn’t expect to stay. I did.” 54 Finney goes on to explain how discovering the word “Affrilachian” also helped her discover the connection between being a “Geechee girl” from South Carolina and being a Affrilachian simultaneously:

Yes, the specifics and details changed. There were no rice fields. The accents of the people were different. The music had more banjo in it. The air had more coal and mountain. The connective tissue from those Black communities in South Carolina to these Black communities in Kentucky, present. We are people of faith. We are people of hard work. We are people who treasure family…Black people are not monolithic. We are different in many ways. But there is connective tissue. 55

Again, those connective tissues often hold more value than a mere place on a map. Finney believes that being Affrilachian depends more on a psychological state of mind rather than physical location, a principle demonstrated by Shayla Lawson, who agrees that “Most poets write in relation to place whether its physical or metaphysical […] It is better to own it than deny it.” As for Lawson, although Kentucky is no longer the place of her residency, it remains the home of her mind and heart, commenting, “I don’t write/live in Appalachia and I think very few, if any, of the Affrilachian poets actually do […] I will always most closely align myself with the Kentucky identity because that’s who I am. If you feel the poetic region is home to you, then it is.” Lawson’s transatlantic involvement in the Affrilachian identity spreads awareness of the movement internationally, achieving worldwide recognition. 56

While Lawson lends the Affrilachians credibility abroad, Wilkinson transforms the ways in which Appalachia is seen at home, today. Concerning place, Wilkinson explains that “I heard Ernest Gaines say once that his literary imagination would always live in Louisiana. I feel the same way about [Kentucky], […] My writing always contains a bucolic sensibility.” 57 Wilkinson celebrates her “country” characters just as she celebrates the “country” within herself, saying, “Being country is as much a part of me as my full lips, wide hips, dreadlocks and high cheek bones.” 58 Her Kentucky demolishes the notions that Appalachian literature must occur in a rustic setting and the characters must be white. By placing her stories within bounds of good or bad, or a definable morality, Wilkinson’s writing does much to correct false notions of Affrilachian writing while also transcending genre with its near-universal appeal to a wide audience.

The acknowledgement that African-American, Appalachian, and woman can exist simultaneously in a single entity is the goal of Affrilachian women writers. From the Netherlands to the Cumberlands, these writers fight to display their existence through their work, and to reclaim their identity from the rhetoric of white racism and racist definitions. Bearing the “triple-bind” of writing in a mainstream world that still places little value or recognition on the works they produce, they have made room for themselves in the spaces between the margins in which they were placed, and they continue to produce work that is completely authentic and thoroughly unique. As Gurney Norman, an honorary Affrilachian, notes: “[i]f the dominant culture doesn’t recognize you, refuses you space within its coterie, then create your own niche.” 59The Affrilachian poets are doing just that.

1 At the time of publication of Erica Locklear’s essay “Creating to Consent: The Affrilachian Movement,” the author noted that a current search for “Appalachian” on yielded the definition “a white native or resident of the Appalachian mountain area.” The website has since removed “white” from the definition.

2 Quraysh Ali Lansana, “Soul in them there Hills.” Black Issues Book Review 3, no. 2(2001): 50-51. Referred to throughout as: Lansana, “Soul.”

3Erica Abrams Locklear, “Creating to Consent: The Affrilachian Movement.” Crossroads A Southern Culture Annual 2007. (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2007), 169-185. Referred to throughout as: Locklear, “Creating.”

4 Christina Springer, “Witness, Testify, Recall: a Conversation with Patricia A. Johnson,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 139. Johnson notes that her family measured wealth in “happiness.”

5 Lansana, Soul.

6 Virginia C. Fowler, “And This Poem Recognizes That: Embracing Contrarieties in the Poetry of Nikki Giovanni,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 115-6.

7 Locklear, “Creating.”

8 Along with Walker, members include poets such as Kelly Norman Ellis, Gerald Coleman, Thomas Aaron, Shanna Smith and Mitchell L.H.Douglas. Miysan Crosswhite, Daudra Scisney-Givens, Richard Donelan, and Ricardo Nazario y Colon are also counted among its members. The membership of Gurney Norman demonstrates the group’s commitment to inclusion, as Walker commented that Norman, “a white man, has been there from the beginning. He has advised and supported us over the years, so we made him an honorary member.” The quote is taken from Lansana, “Soul.”

9 Ibid.

10 Virginia C. Fowler, Nikki Giovanni, (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992), 21. Referred to throughout as: Fowler, Nikki Giovanni.

11 Theresa Burris, “A Voice of Their Own: The Affrilachian Authors,” (Cincinnati, OH: Union Institute and University Ph.D. diss., 2005), 112. Referred to throughout as: Burris, “A Voice.”

12 Shayla Lawson, e-mail message to author, March 29, 2011.

13 Crystal Good, interview with the author, April 6, 2011.

14 doris davenport, e-mail message to the author, April 11, 2011.

15 Lansana, “Soul.”

16 Crystal Wilkinson, e-mail message to the author, 19 March, 2011.

17 Felicia Mitchell, Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), xiii.

18 VIDA, an organization formed to “explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women [in] existing and emerging literary communities,” recently released results studying the gender disparity in some of the world’s foremost publishing houses and book reviews, and the numbers were disheartening at best. The trends examined in VIDA’s “The Count 2010” hardly reflect the number of women writers creating literature, which only further proves that the conversation has yet to come full circle as VIDA claims, that a certain “archaic” discrimination exists when considering women’s writing.

19 Virginia C. Fowler, “And This Poem Recognizes That: Embracing Contrarieties in the Poetry of Nikki Giovanni,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 118. The quote is taken from Smith’s essay, “The Social Relations of Southern Women.”

20 Ibid. 117. The quote is taken from Ford’s book, Gender and the Poetics of Excess.

21 Felicia Mitchell, Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), xix. The quote is taken from Lyon’s essay, “Appalachian Women Poets: Breaking the Double Silence.”

22 Joyce Dyer, Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 2. Referred to throughout as: Dyer, Bloodroot.

23 Mitchell, Her Words, xxii.

24 Crystal Wilkinson, e-mail message to the author, 19 March, 2011.

25 Crystal Good, interview with the author, April 6, 2011.

26 Ibid. Finney appears on the March/April 2011 cover of Poets and Writers.

27 doris davenport, e-mail message to the author, April 11, 2011.

28  James A. Miller, “Coming Home to Affrilachia: The Poems of doris davenport,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 96.

29Fowler, Nikki Giovanni, 22-23.

30 Fowler, Nikki Giovanni, 31-32. The quote is take from Fabio’s essay “Who speaks Negro? What Is Black?”

31 Elaine Blue, Moods and works of Blue (New York: Vantage, 1985) vii.

32 Elaine Blue, interview with the author, April 8, 2011.

33 Ibid.

34 Burris, “A Voice,” 113. The elected official Finney refers to is Senator Arthur Ravenel, who served in Congress from 1987 to 1995.

35 Ibid. 115.

36 Christina Springer, “Witness, Testify, Recall: a Conversation with Patricia A. Johnson,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 142.

37 Marianne Worthington, “Unseen and Unheard: African American Women as Appalachian Poets” (presentation, Appalachian Studies Conference, Dayton, OH March 17, 2006). Referred to throughout as: Worthington, “Unseen.”

38 Patricia Johnson, “The King Fell Out of My Hair,” in Stain My Days Blue, (Philadelphia, PA: Ausdoh Press, 1999), 37.

39 Lansana, “Soul.”

40 Crystal Wilkinson, e-mail message to the author, March 19, 2011.

41 Crystal Wilkinson, e-mail message to the author, March 19, 2011.

42 David Deskins, “Effie Waller Smith: An Echo within the Hills in Hill and Hollow: Original Readings in Appalachian Women’s Studies, ed. Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005), 215. Referred to throughout as: Deskins, “Effie.”

43 Effie Waller Smith, The Collected Works of Effie Waller Smith ed. David Deskins (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 13.

44 Ibid.7-8.

45 Worthington, “Unseen.”

46 Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003), 120 .

47 Deskins, “Effie,” 215.

48 Nikki Giovanni, “400 Mulvaney Street,” in Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers, ed. Joyce Dyer (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 139.

49 doris davenport, e-mail message to the author, April 11, 2011.

50 doris davenport, “All This, and Honeysuckles Too,” in Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers, ed. Joyce Dyer (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 91.

51 Ibid. 91.

52 Crystal Good, interview with the author, April 6, 2011.

53 Christina Springer, “Witness, Testify, Recall: a Conversation with Patricia A. Johnson,” in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry, ed. Felicia Mitchell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002), 143.

54 Burris, “A Voice,” 104.

55 Ibid.104-5.

56 Shayla Lawson, e-mail message to author, March 29, 2011. Lawson now lives in the Netherlands.

57 Crystal Wilkinson, e-mail message to the author, 19 March, 2011.

58 Burris, “A Voice,” 119.

59 Theresa Burriss, “Claiming Literary Space: The Affrilachian Poets,” in An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature, eds. Danny Miller, Sharon Hatfield, and Gurney Norman (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005), 315-336. The quote is taken from a phone interview Burriss conducted with Norman.