About LMU

The Mountain Heritage Literary Festival
June 13-15, 2014

Amy Clark

Jean Ritchie Fellowship

June 17, 2013 - Harrogate, Tennessee—Charles Dodd White of Candler, N.C., is the winner of the 2013 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.

White is the author of the novel, Lambs of Men (2010); the story collection, Sinners of Sanction County (2011); and co-editor of the Appalachian fiction anthology, Degrees of Elevation (2010). His next novel, A Shelter of Others, will be published by Fiddleblack Press in 2014. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature, Appalachian Heritage, Fugue, The Louisville Review, North Carolina Literary Review and others. In 2011 he was awarded a fellowship in prose by the North Carolina Arts Council. His writing is often described as darkly poetic, belonging to the tradition of writers like Cormac McCarthy, Donald Ray Pollock and Larry Brown.  White is at work on a new novel, Parable of Noon, as well as several narrative essays about growing up in the South.

White is an English instructor at South College in Asheville, North Carolina. He is also a PhD candidate in English at Texas A&M-Commerce, where he will graduate in 2014. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University. He lives with his wife, April, and sons, Ethan and Iain, in a log cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina.  He is an avid outdoorsman and student of Judo.

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 sixth 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.

The final judges described Charles Dodd White’s submission, which was an excerpt from his forthcoming novel A Shelter of Others, as “lush in its language with countless profound and emotionally-affecting sentences and scenes.  We really liked the rough honesty and clear-eyedness of perspective, tone and voice, and how all that juxtaposed in a unique and interesting way with the richness of language, the delicate music of the prose.  The characters stayed with us long after reading about them.  It felt like this was a writer who could not not write.  This work felt like it came from a writer who knows himself and what he wants to achieve and how to do go about doing so.  In the end, the strength, grace and sophistication of this writing could not be denied.  Charles Dodd White’s writing is something special and deserves to be recognized.”

The award was announced at this year’s Mountain Heritage Literary Festival on June 15, during the event’s keynote banquet.  North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti delivered the keynote address.  For more information, go online at www.lmunet.edu/mhlf.

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

The 2013 and 2014 Mountain Heritage Literary Festivals are sponsored in part by a grant from the East Tennessee Foundation.

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

423.869.6432 or 800.325.0900, ext. 6432