Editor’s Poke 2024

Poke:  n. Chiefly Southern US
A sack; a bag.
[Middle English, likely Old North French]

I wish everyone a belated Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and warm. In East Tennessee, 2024 has come roaring through like a mad badger, bringing with it a snowstorm I hadn’t experienced since I was a child. My mind hearkens to winters in the holler. We were essentially trapped for weeks at a time back in the beautiful dark places, where mountains hide the sun so that it barely glints across the valley, let alone the backroads burdened with ice under snow under ice under snow.

I am a little girl again trekking with my family to various springhouses to collect water in old milk jugs because our water pipes froze for months at a time. I am there again as my brother and I built the most interesting and twisted snowmen, or we took our sleds—put together with upcycled anythings—trudged up the frozen holler road, and whizzed our way down, our giggles and cackles heard clear across the woods. After the chilly days turned to freezing nights, my parents blocked off much of the house using old, shabby sheets, and we all gathered in the living room, where we were warm and cozy by the fire. I can still hear my father whistle as he added wood to the fire, his face glowing in the dark night as the fire rumbled and wood crackled, and a satisfied smile flickered softly across his face.

Don’t get me wrong, now. Life being cooped up with no way out of the mountains was not peachy. Not by a longshot. We toughed it out in a single-wide trailer with no running water in sub zero temperatures, with little food and littler money, and the four of us went plumb stir crazy and were often at each other’s throats. But the good times together made for lasting, pleasant memories.

The editor in her backyard.

Looking back is sometimes a good thing, as long as a person isn’t stuck there. We Appalachians often wax nostalgic for a time when our earliest ancestors came here, lived here, died here. We tell our stories by the fire on those cold, wintry nights or at the kitchen table as we peruse old photo albums with pages so weathered by fingers and time, the cellophane won’t stick (though the pictures certainly do). Looking back affords us a review. We remember good times and acknowledge bad times. We realize successes and learn from mistakes. And we gather all our knowledge from the past to plan for a future.

All this being said, Appalachia Bare is also taking a little time to look back. This year we will celebrate 5 years since the beginning of our endeavor to promote all things Appalachia—from history to creative writing, from music to art, from people to places, etc., etc. Five years! In that time, we have interviewed so many storied and talented people—from a Pulitzer Prize nominee author to the Southern Sons. We have featured amazing artists—from Mary Ruden to Mark Maguire. We’ve dabbled in video content, resurrected authors—and introduced new ones. We have touched the beauty of this region in every line of poetry and seen our spectacular Appalachia in every photograph. We have hosted contests for fiction, photography, and poetry. We’ve attended warmly hosted workshops and conferences and visited various museums throughout the region.

So, by looking back, what does that mean for 2024? Well, just as I mentioned, we are celebrating our successes and learning from our mistakes. One of my largest regrets is promising things we could not or did not deliver. I have learned that one must have things lined up before hinting at or making promises. That said, we have been a venue for some remarkably talented Appalachian people and featured extraordinary stories about Appalachia. And it has been both a special experience and an honor.

In the coming year, we will feature exclusive interviews, highlight Appalachian programs, tell more Appalachian stories, and promote more creativity. We look forward to a new contest this year and celebrating our 5-year anniversary with recognitions and prizes for subscribers.

In order to offer the finest and brightest Appalachian talent, Appalachia Bare will also be implementing one key change. In these five years, our magazine has published content twice weekly. In order for us to devote more time, focus, and attention to every submission, and deservedly so, we will now publish new content once every week. This change will begin in the month of February.

We look forward to sharing the coming year with our Appalachia Bare community—our readers, contributors, subscribers, and supporters. Thank you all for a beautiful 2023. Bring your own poke and let’s share this new journey together.


**All photographs were taken by Tom and/or Delonda Anderson.

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