A Celebration of Lee Smith
Join us to celebrate the dedication of a sign honoring bestselling hometown author Lee Smith. The sign is located on Poe Town Street in Grundy, and the dedication will begin at 12pm on Saturday, May 14, 2022. A reception will follow at the Buchanan County Public Library with guest speakers that include Appalachian authors inspired by Lee and author Silas House as M.C. This celebration is open to the public and there is no charge to attend. Please call 276-935-5721 to RSVP.
Guest of Honor-Lee Smith
New York Times Bestselling author Lee Smith was born in Grundy VA to Ernest and Virginia Smith. She grew up on Main Street learning about people by watching from the upstairs of her father’s dime store. By nine, she was writing up and selling her stories to the neighbors.
The Los Angeles Times dubbed her the new Southern regional movement queen, her work is rooted in the Southern idea of place as not past or present but as” knowing who you are and what your family did”. Ms. Smith was inspired by authors such as Eudora Welty, Virginia Wolf, James Still, and William Faulkner. She in return has inspired writers both through her writing and through her teaching. Serving as a high school English teacher from 1973 to 1981, nineteen years as an instructor at the North Carolina State University, and her work at the Hindman Center in Kentucky.
Master of Ceremonies-Silas House
Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of six novels–Clay’s Quilt, 2001; A Parchment of Leaves, 2003; The Coal Tattoo, 2005; Eli the Good, 2009; and Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani) 2012, and Southernmost (June 2018)–as well as a book of creative nonfiction–Something’s Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard, 2009; and three plays.
House is a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered”. His writing has appeared recently in Time, The Atlantic, Ecotone, The Advocate, Garden and Gun, and Oxford American. House serves on the fiction faculty at the Spalding School of Creative Writing and as the NEH Chair at Berea College.
He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the recipient of three honorary doctorates, and is the winner of the Nautilus Award, an EB White Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library/NAV Foundation, the Lee Smith Award, and many other honors, including an invitation to read at the Library of Congress. Southernmost was a longest finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and appeared on several the Best of 2018 lists of The Advocate, Booklist, Paste, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and others. The book was also awarded the Weatherford Award as well as the Judy Gaines Young Award.
Heather Frese is the author of the novel The Baddest Girl on the Planet, winner of the Lee Smith Novel Prize. She has published numerous short stories, essays, and the occasional poem. Her work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Review, Front Porch, the Barely South Review, Switchback, and elsewhere, earning notable mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Essays.
Heather received her M.F.A. from West Virginia University and has a master’s degree from Ohio University. Coastal North Carolina is her longtime love and source of inspiration, her writing deeply influenced by the wild magic and history of the Outer Banks. A native Ohioan, she currently writes, edits, and wrangles three small children in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Kati is a recovering actor who has spent the last few years keeping tiny humans alive. In high school she was determined to play a doctor on General Hospital. She would spend hours toiling away on FanFiction for my AOL community and dreaming of the day she would accept a Daytime Emmy Award. In college she majored in Theater arts and spent lots of time hanging out in the box office.
Before any of that happened though, Kati had cancer. She was eight. She responded to chemotherapy and had an amputation of her entire left leg. She still advocates for childhood cancer research and accessibility for all individuals with disabilities.
Kati is married, has two great girls, and a posse of furry friends. She doesn’t watch General Hospital anymore, but still thinks that Lucky Spencer is one of the most dynamic characters ever written.
She is the author of the young adult novels Brave Enough and Finding Balance. In addition, she has an essay in the collection Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Radical Anatomy.
Jane Hicks is a teacher, poet, and fiber artist from upper East Tennessee. (There is something east of Knoxville!) The Jesse Stuart Foundation published her book, Blood & Bone Remember, in January 2005. Blood and Bone Remember won the Poetry Book of the Year 2006 Award from the Appalachian Writers Association. The Cosmic One is the inspiration for the name of a mythical Appalachian Trail hikers’ hostel in Sharyn McCrumb’s ballad novel, The Songcatcher. Baird Christopher explains it all! Jane also served as Sharyn’s NASCAR mentor for St. Dale. (2005)
Jane’s newest book, Driving with the Dead, is here! The book was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and won the Poetry book of the Year from the Appalachian Writers Association for 2015.
Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Prettiest Star, published by Hub City Press, and winner of the 2021 Southern Book Prize and the Weatherford Award. The Prettiest Star was also selected as a Kirkus Best Book of 2020 and a Best LGBT Book of 2020 by O Magazine. His debut novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury 2012), an Oregon Book Award finalist and a Lambda Literary Award finalist, was adapted into a feature film that premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. His essays and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, Oxford American, Poets & Writers, BuzzFeed, Joyland, Guernica, Catapult, and Electric Literature. Carter is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and earned fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and MacDowell. He is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University.
This event was made possible by a grant from the Virginia Humanities, and support from the Friends of the Buchanan County Public Library, the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors, and the Town of Grundy.
This event was also possible thanks to the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries. It is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.