Spring 2019 Editor’s Note

Two months ago I turned to my husband with a prophecy: “This, for me, is about to be a season of lessons.”

I am not an oracle—the signs were simply inscribed everywhere I turned. After a year of prevaricating, we have embarked upon a move following nearly ten years spent in an old Craftsman-style home we deeply loved. What’s more, the health of our beloved sixteen-year-old dachshund was becoming increasingly precarious. He had gone into kidney failure, and while a stint in hospital had helped him to rebound for the time being, I worried he would leave this world while I was teaching a study abroad course for three weeks in Ireland.

These twin transitions had stirred up intense emotions in me. While we both needed a change in geographic location, I was grieving all the living, loving, writing, and reading we had done in our home, and how often that had been connected to our eldest dog. It felt like I was bidding a long goodbye to both home and companion.

But there was more—a bedrock of sadness, a hard truth about my life I needed to confront. I had become too busy. Over the past several years, I had grown accustomed to saying yes to everything that came my way—to every reading, course, workshop, conference, writing assignment, and responsibility that presented itself, and I was now left to wonder where the time had gone.

Two years away from forty, I realized the necessity of reconstructing my life around quality rather than quantity. I wanted more time for writing, for books and music, for dogs, for family.

Literature, like life, also comes with lessons, and this issue of Appalachian Heritage is not exception. There are hard-won revelations nestled in these stories, essays, and poems, and if you listen while you read, they will make themselves known— quietly, in a whisper that brushes your earlobe. “Remember who you are,” a father reminds his daughter in “The Dance” by beloved Appalachia author George Ella Lyon. This excerpt from a novel-in-progress anchors a special fiction section, one featuring the voices of young female narrators in stories by Cathy Cruise, Bre Lillie, and Kim Shegog.

The value of friendship forged by a shared love of nature is celebrated and memorialized in Catharina Coenen’s exquisite, probing essay “Invasive,” and the natural world is commemorated in verse by poets including Jeff Worley, Llewellyn McKernan, Kathleen Brewin Lewis, Noah Davis, and M.S. Reagan. Award-winning poet and teacher Marianne Worthington provides insighful tips about submitting work to literary magazines, while Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman discusses her newly published and acclaimed memoir Sounds Like Titanic. Our reviews section considers the merits of two recently published works: WWJD and Other Poems by Savannah Sipple and The Sound of Holding Your Breath by Natalie Sypolt.

For now, I have committed myself to a slower pace, one I will strive to maintain over the summer and beyond, placing places a premium on deeper experiences with family, friends, and art—and listening.

Jason Kyle Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words and co-author of Something's Rising, both works of literary journalism. His essays, features, and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Salon, The Millions, The Nation, Sojourners, and on C-SPAN's Book TV and NPR. Howard is editor of Appalachian Review, a literary quarterly based at Berea College, where he teaches and directs the creative writing program. He serves on the graduate faculty of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing, and holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and degrees from The George Washington University and the University of Kentucky.

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