LMU Hosts Mountain Heritage Literary Festival

mountain heritage literary festival presentations

Harrogate, Tennessee, June 21, 2019—Authors and aspiring writers gathered to celebrate writing, music and Appalachian heritage during the annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival (MHLF) at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), June 14-16.


“This festival is always a joy. There are so many ways various writers are connected - friends, past work, as mentors, and so on - it makes for a kind of reunion gathering,” said Darnell Arnoult, writer-in-residence and assistant professor of English at LMU. “Everyone who attends for the first time becomes part of this nurturing family. We are proud of our role in inspiring and nurturing a thriving literary tradition and far-reaching writing community.”


Since summer 2018, MHLF has partnered with the Appalachian Writers Association for the presentation of the Appalachian Book of the Year (ABOY) awards. Winners announced this year were published in 2018. The winners must be written by an author from, or living in, Appalachia or written about Appalachia.


The 2018 Appalachian Book of the Year award winners are: Specter Mountain by Jesse Graves and William Wright (Poetry); In the House of Wilderness by Charles Dodd White (fiction) and Dopesick by Beth Macy (Nonfiction).


Specter Mountain fuses two striking poetic visions into an innovative new perspective on nature and the imprint of human interaction with wilderness. Readers gain a sense of the permanent beauty of rivers and mountains and the grandeur that reaches beyond human life and influence. 


A harrowing story of choice and sacrifice, In the House of Wilderness is a novel about the modern South and how we fight through hardship and grief to find a way home.


Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America is a look at the national opioid epidemic. It was an instant bestseller, garnering positive reviews, lots of radio and television coverage — including an interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air”— and a television series option with Fox 21 Studios and Warren Littlefield. It also won the L.A. Times Book Prize award for science and technology, and was short-listed for The Kirkus Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal. 


The George Scarbrough Prize for poetry writing went to Valerie Nieman, Late Shift (third place); Joyce Compton Brown, Blue Ridge Commons (second place); and Jane Sasser, What Passes for Spring (first place).

The Emma Bell Miles Prize for essay writing was awarded Chrissie Anderson Peters, Buddy (third place); Jack Wright, The Blue Dot Raiders (second place); and Valerie Nieman, The Drift (first place).

The Jesse Stuart Prize for young adults went to Les M. Brown, The Flats (third place); Jane Sasser, Ticket Out of Nowheresville (second place); and Sam Campbell, Lost and Found (first place).

The James Still Prize for short story writing went to Les M. Brown, “Jehue and the Hammond Organ” (third place); Luther Kirk, “Opal Jean” (second place), and Sam Campbell, “Someone Planted Kudzu In New York City” (first place).

The Jean Ritchie Fellowship was awarded to Annie Woodford, and Joseph Bathanti received the Lee Smith Award.


Arnoult, who serves as director of MHLF, was joined by staff members Joseph Bathanti, Rod Picott, Georgann Eubanks, Dana Wildsmith, Charles Dodd White, Abigail DeWitt, Jim Minick, Rosemary Royston and Sharon Hatfield. Events included workshops, panels, readings, lectures, concerts, plays, films, open mic and more.


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 email at [email protected].

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