I’ve Been a Foreign Lander

Listen! Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? Closer, let me whisper in your ear: I’m not Appalachian. Or maybe I am—it depends on who you ask. Or if you ask. No one asked me to show my Appalachian Green Card before I spent a week recently teaching the literature of the region at Radford’s Highland Summer Conference. The staff and students there sure didn’t treat me like a poseur. They didn’t treat me any way other than graciously. We just dove right down into a deep pool of Robert Gipe and Jesse Graves and Darnell Arnoult and Jim Wayne Miller and Crystal Wilkinson and Ron Rash and Jane Hicks and Silas House and Jim Minick and Diane Gilliam, where we swam around together for five days, happily growing sodden with worthy words.

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Dana Wildsmith is the author of the novel Jumping, released in 2016. Her other published works include Alchemy, Our Bodies Remember, Choices (an audio collection), One Good Hand, and Back to Abnormal. Her poems and essays have been widely published in both literary and commercial journals, and in the anthology Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia.

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