About LMU

The Mountain Heritage Literary Festival
June 12-14, 2015

Amy Clark

Jean Ritchie Fellowship

June 15, 2014 - Harrogate, Tennessee—Mesha Maren of Alderson, West Virginia, is the winner of the 2014 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, awarded by Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tenn. The prize is $1,500 and is awarded to an Appalachian writer who shows overwhelming promise in the continuation of great writing in the region.

Mesha Maren is a native of Alderson, West Virginia. Her fiction has been anthologized in Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial and published in journals such as The Oxford American, Tin House, The Barcelona Review, Hobart and Night Train. Her writing has previously received accolades such as first place in the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest, winner of the Lex Allen Literary Festival Fiction Contest, The Thomas Wolfe Award, the Press 53 Award and the James Hurst Prize for Fiction.

The fellowship is named in honor of Jean Ritchie, 89, the award-winning musician and writer who has been cited as a "national treasure" by the New York Times. Besides being an internationally known singer, songwriter, activist and musicologist, Ritchie is also the author of several books. Ritchie's best known work is Singing Family of the Cumberlands. The book has never been out of print since its 1955 publication and is known as one of the major classics in Appalachian literature.

This is the seventh year the fellowship has been awarded through LMU’s annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, which honors writers of the region like James Still and Jesse Stuart, both alums of LMU. The fellowship is funded by an anonymous donor, and the judging process is completely blind, with a panel of judges within the region choosing several finalists that are then sent out of state to be judged by another panel of nationally-known authors.

About the Jean Ritchie Fellowship

Through literature, a region tells stories to its citizens and the world. The Jean Ritchie Fellowship seeks to support, encourage and honor writers from the Southern Appalachians.

The fellowship is the first of its kind for the region's writers, and is committed to Appalachian voices.

Jean Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky, and Port Washington, New York, is a musician, author of prose and poetry, social activist, teacher, historian and folk music collector. The fellowship strives to support artists who, like Ritchie, create works of beauty and social relevance, while honoring traditional heritage and forging a new path.

Award amount: $1,500

Past Fellowship winners

2008 - Mindy Beth Miller from Hazard, Kentucky.
2009 - Larry Bingham of Portland, Oregon
2010 - Katie Perry of Austin, Texas
2011 - Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, Kentucky
2012 - Amy Clark of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
2013 - Charles Dodd White of Candler, North Carolina

Lincoln Memorial University
Cumberland Gap Parkway
P.O. Box 2005
Harrogate, TN 37752

423.869.6432 or 800.325.0900, ext. 6432