Woodford Awarded Jean Ritchie Fellowship

woodfordHarrogate, Tennessee, June 21, 2019 — Annie Woodford, of Deep Gap, North Carolina, is the winner of the 2019 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, awarded by Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tennessee. The prize is awarded to an Appalachian writer who shows overwhelming promise in the continuation of great writing in the region. Woodford teaches community college English in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.


“I am so honored to be a part of the Appalachian writing community,” Woodford said. “I have found such support, kindness and a sense of belonging there. My maternal grandfather's favorite song, I was always told, was ‘Barbry Allen.’ To get this fellowship named after Jean Ritchie, who sang the most beautiful version of that and many other old mountain songs, is an incredibly kind and important affirmation of my work.”


Woodford is the author of Bootleg (Groundhog Poetry Press, Spring 2019). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Still: the Journal, Appalachian Heritage, The Journal of Appalachian Studies, Appalachian Journal, Cold Mountain Blackbird, The Southern Review, The Rumpus, The Sewanee ReviewRattle, and Prairie Schooner, among others.  She is the winner of the Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets and has been awarded scholarships from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop as well as the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers’ conferences. 


The fellowship is named in honor of Jean Ritchie, the award-winning musician and writer who died on June 2, 2015.  Besides being an internationally known singer, songwriter, activist and musicologist, Ritchie was 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 fellowship is traditionally 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 judging process is completely blind, with a panel of judges within the region choosing several finalists that are then sent out of state to a final judge.


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. 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.


Past fellowship winners include: Mindy Beth Miller of Kentucky; Larry Bingham of Oregon; Katie Perry of Texas; Tiffany Williams of Kentucky; Amy Clark of Virginia; Charles Dodd White of North Carolina; Mesha Maren of West Virginia; Jim Minick, of Georgia; Shawna Kay Rodenberg of Indiana; John C. Mannone of Tennessee; and Noah Davis of Indiana.


The Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, held annually in June at LMU, continues to grow and have a positive influence on the thriving, living literature of Appalachia. The festival carries on the long literary tradition that exists at LMU, which claims such literary alums as Still, Stuart, Don West and George Scarbrough.


Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies.  The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at [email protected]

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