Sunday, May 10, 2009

At the Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase

Yesterday was a wonderful day and an exceptionally well-run festival, thanks to dedicated organizers and volunteers. I did my usual rambling presentation to a very nice group who asked thoughtful, intelligent questions at the end; I got to see lots of friends and acquaintances -- including more than a few of my ex-students who say they're still writing away (very gratifying!)

And I had the pleasure of seeing three of my favorite writers doing their presentations!

Sharyn McCrumb was the keynote speaker and by the time I got there, the place was packed. I stood at the back -- too far away to get a decent picture. Sharyn is always a fascinating speaker and this time she had a lot to say about the universality of folk tales -- how the same story -- for example, the story of the human taken to Fairyland who returns home only to find that years, rather than days, have passed. Sharyn told a Japanese fairy tale with this theme and went on to reference the Dutch Rip Van Winkle and the old Scots ballad of Thomas the Rymer. I loved this because I've used a variation of this same story -- turning it into a Cherokee tale -- in The Day of Small Things.

Later in the morning came Sheila Kay Adams (and this link will take you to some of her stories and music). I've known Sheila a long time and always loved her story-telling, her ballad singing, her banjo playing, and, oh yes, she writes as well. Every bit as well.

This was a bittersweet performance as Sheila's husband Jim died just a few months ago and when she spoke of him and sang his favorite song, we were all close to tears. But like the strong mountain woman she is, Sheila has taken her grief and turned it to love and grace and beauty.

Another great treat was listening to Kathryn Stripling Byer, the Poet Laureate of North Carolina, read her poems. Kay has done a wonderful job bringing poetry, her own and that of others, to a whole new audience.

Reading poetry to oneself is a quiet pleasure; hearing the poet him/herself perform the poems adds a whole new dimension. Kay reads with a heartfelt earnestness that makes the poems extremely accessible -- I find myself thinking 'Yes, that's how I remember it. She just says it better."

When the day was ended, I went to dinner with Carol (of Writers Porch), Gary, and Kathryn Magendie and the talk turned to ghosts and hauntings and shadow men and all manner of neat stuff.

It was a fine day. And the folks in charge of the Showcase are already making plans for next year (June 5, I think I heard someone say.) Well worth putting on your calendar!

And a Happy Mothers Day to all !

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Pat in east TN said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and guess I had forgotten ALL the wonderful folks who were to be there. Whew!

Vicki Lane said...

A rich experience indeed, Pat! You might think about making the trip next year!

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for sharing all your experiences! The photos are showing that you had a great time and that there are a lot of talented people around. How moving that Sheila's husband died not so long ago. Very brave of her to sing her husband's favourite song.

Stella Jones said...

What a lovely way to spend a day!
Blessings, Star