the silence of Effie Smith?

8:44 AM Posted by James Owens

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Two theses about writing in Appalachia:

1. Appalachian literature is post-colonial.

1a. A corollary is that it makes sense to read Appalachian writers beside other post-colonial writers, from the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, Ireland.

2. Appalachian literature is, linguistically and formally (though not always ethnically), a literature of the Celtic diaspora.

2a. A corollary is that it makes sense to read Appalachian writers together with those from Ireland and Scotland and Wales, for sources, and alongside the representatives of other scattered peoples, such as African American and Jewish writers, for a similar relationship with official power and toward a problematic, dominant language.

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8 comments:

Sorlil said...

Another sphere of literature to investigate, thanks for drawing it to my attention.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

This reads like Wittgenstein's Tractatus. I like your idea here - It makes perfect sense. I think music proves your point.

James Owens said...

Sam: You are right about music.

You know, my grandmother played the mandolin and knew -- firsthand, learned from other singers when she was a girl -- a lot of those songs people study in folk music classes. But nobody learned them from her. What a loss that was, repeated thousands of times in our generation from West Pennsylvania to North Alabama....

James Owens said...
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James Owens said...

Sorlil: This is just a subjective impression (how would you measure such a thing?), but Appalachian literature, poetry especially, seems to me closer to Britian than to the rest of America. I'm guessing my perspective may be skewed, and what has really happened is that I have preferred those British and Irish poets whose work seems more "Appalachian" -- that is, rural and/or dialectical.

Seamus Heaney, RS Thomas, Tony Harrison, for example, are full of scenes and people from my childhood. There is no more "Appalachian" poem than Heaney's "Making Strange" (from Station Island, maybe); there is no more "Applachian" sentiment than Harrison's proverb, "The tongueless man gets his land took."

On the other hand -- let's note that I am aware that season four of Doctor Who will be released on DVD, here anyway, on November 24, and lots of nerdy teenagers are waiting for that. It's irrelevant to me, though, because (uber-nerdy) I watched season four last spring -- illegally uploaded to YouTube every Monday after that week's episode had aired on BBC.

And I think I've seen the entire run of "Monarch of the Glen" and "The Vicar of Dibley," and I ordered my copies of the Harry Potter books from amazon.uk because I wanted British spelling and slang -- all of which suggests a strain of Anglophilia that might make me an untrustworthy informant....

Sorlil said...

Ok, Monarch of the Glen I can forgive but the Vicar of Dibley, dear oh dear! lol
Well you've certainly piqued my interest. I'm woefully ignorant of the recent or near-recent strands of American poetry beyond their names, but I intend to remedy that after I've exhausted my current reading.

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