Sunday, September 14, 2008

Carolina Mountains Literary Festival . . . and a Surprise

I'm back -- and what a weekend!!!

I couldn't make it to Burnsville in time for the opening of the three hour session on the Cherokee Removal -- aka the Long Walk or the Trail of Tears -- but managed to slide in for the last hour. Such a sad story but one that, like that of the Holocaust, should never be forgotten.

There was time for a quick lunch with Sallie Bissell and Rose Senehi, the other two members of the panel I moderated yesterday, and then on to attend an incredible session with the multi-talented John Grant Jr, who played the Native American wooden flute and told Cherokee folk tales.
John was followed by Myrtle Driver ( this picture doesn't do her justice) a native Cherokee speaker who has translated Charles Frazer's Thirteen Moons into Cherokee. Barbara Duncan, Education Director for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (in Cherokee, NC and well worth a visit!) read a scene in English and then Myrtle gave a very dramatic reading in Cherokee -- a lovely sound that I guess reminds me (in my limited experience with different languages) a bit of Japanese but somehow more musical.

When the reading was over, I approached these folks to tell them how very much I'd enjoyed the whole session and was thrilled when Barbara Duncan said she loved my books.

"You do?" I stammered. "Have you read Old Wounds? Did I get the Cherokee stuff right?"

When she said that I had, I felt like I'd just won a prize -- I did research, of course, but I didn't have anyone to check on my assumptions. So I have, ever since the books came out, hoped that I hadn't made some really dumb mistake or, even worse, said something offensive.

Whew! A load lifted!

That was Friday. On Saturday morning I led a three hour workshop of writing fools -- they wrote and wrote and wrote! It's amazing what interesting and accomplished stuff came out of a very quick workshop. They were given pictures (torn from magazines) of people and places and asked to construct a dialogue between two people in their pictures in a setting based on the picture they'd chosen. They all rose to the challenge, constructing little vignettes that left us all saying "And then what happened?" A great class!

That afternoon I did a solo presentation with a slide show -- you all have seen all the pictures -- going on behind me while I read selections from all four Elizabeth books. And then the panel, where all three of us talked about using the mystery to address social and environmental issues.

The festival ended with a banquet where I sat with another mystery writer, the charming Suzanne Adair. Fred Chappell, former NC poet laureate, spoke and read a poem created for the occasion -- actually, a poem within a poem. Another wow! moment.

I was up early this morning, on the road before 7 AM and arrived home in time for breakfast with John. Unpacking, laundry, email, bills to be paid, lunch (incredible leftover pizza by our own Papa John), and I was just settling down to post on this blog when the phone rang.

"Hi, Vicki? It's Tony Earley. We're in Mars Hill , on our way to Tennessee, and thought we'd come by."

I posted a while back about my admiration of Tony so all I'll say is I can't think of a better close to a literary weekend than to sit and rock on the front porch with the Earleys and their beautiful little girl.

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Pat in TN said...

Good to have you back and to learn about your fabulous week end. From beginning to end it sounded great!

I've read Sallie Bissell's books and think they're great. Now I've looked up Suzanne Adair's books and they intrigue me, but WOW, to have Tony Earley stop by to visit ... outstanding!!!

Vicki Lane said...

Yeah . . . still grinning!