If you read my review of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, then you’ll recognize that Elizabeth Catte’s What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia has done my work for me, though we arrived at similar conclusions independently. Catte is a historian with more than simply an anecdotal interest in Appalachia. WhereasContinue Reading

“Shut up, you fucker. You smart-ass. If I wasn’t crippled, I’d get up right now and smack your head and ass together.” – Mamaw from J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy   My suspicion is that J.D. Vance tries to shock his readers by pretending he’s unfazed by his family’s white trashContinue Reading

The next part of our journey transports us on a cold December day to Briceville, Tennessee – just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Coal Creek. We arrive at the Cross Mountain mine almost ten years after the Fraterville mine disaster. Coal camps in Appalachia were cheerful inContinue Reading

After the Coal Creek War, coalminers garnered a new respect, reclaimed their jobs and formed unions. Coal companies gained a skilled workforce and restructured the industry better than it was before convict-leasing. Families were relatively happy as normalcy and stability returned. Ten years after the Coal Creek War’s end, however,Continue Reading

A city in East Tennessee rests quite unobtrusive and timeless against a misty mountain backdrop. Historic architecture lines the old main street that once felt the drumbeat of a booming industry. Rocky Top was originally named Coal Creek. Pioneers first settled the area in the mid-1800s and found the banksContinue Reading

**Photograph:  A crowd of miners confronting soldiers – Harlan County, Kentucky 1939   My stage play, “Which Side Are You On:  The Florence Reece Story,” debuted at Pellissippi State Community College on April 15, 2016. The play recounts episodes in the life of Florence Reece, an American social activist, poet,Continue Reading

When I was about five years old (before we moved to the holler), my family and I lived in a little green house on a little paved street in Jacksboro, Tennessee. My younger brother and I often felt cramped in our small, grassy yard so we regularly wandered but neverContinue Reading

On closer look it becomes what we most despise:  something unnameably near, confounding us with its ability to make vague silhouettes of familiar landmarks or bloat the once-solid shapes of signs lending geometric certitude to all our directions. — Edward Francisco From “The Terror of Kudzu”   One of myContinue Reading