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Appalachian Cultural Center announces fall lineup

Wesley Scott McMasters will open Carson-Newman University’s Appalachian Cultural Center’s fall lineup of events with readings and discussion of his published works.

(Sept. 9, 2019) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. ­— Artists whose works cross the spectrum of mediums will appear for Carson-Newman University’s Appalachian Cultural Center fall lineup of events.

Author Wesley Scott McMasters, tapestry weaver Nancy Garretson, writer Dana Wildsmith, violinist Nashwan Asef Abdullah and novelist Terry Roberts are among this season’s guest artists.

“Reflecting Nancy Garretson’s artistry, this season’s lineup honors the many dimensions of Appalachia’s own ‘tapestry,’ of its culture, and of its history,” said Director Jennifer Hall. “From poetry and prose, to weaving, to the international language found in music — guests are sure to come away with a greater appreciation for the diversity that is our Appalachia and a greater love for this place we call home. As tapestries are created with a multiplicity of threads so, too, are the Appalachian people and its culture.”

“An Evening with Westley Scott McMasters” will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Appalachian Cultural Center.

McMasters’ first chapbook of poetry, “Trying to Be a Person,” was published in 2016 by Words Dance Publishing. His second book, “In Which My Lover Tells Me about the Nature of Wild Things,” is forthcoming from Mammoth Books this year. He has also published assorted poetry, short fiction and memoir. He works as an editor for the journal Red Flag Poetry, and his current projects include helping to translate poetry from Asef Abdullah, a Syrian poet, a series of short essays and more.

“Three-dimensional Tapestry by Nancy Garretson” will include a gallery talk at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and exhibit that will remain open from Oct. 1-26 at the Appalachian Cultural Center.

Garretson is a tapestry weaver and resident artist and founding member of the Arts Depot in Abingdon, Virginia. Unlike traditional tapestries, her work is three-dimensional. Instead of weaving an image row by row in a single piece of cloth, she weaves several individual pieces and assembles them into a composition with textures and layers. The display will show the progression of her work over 40 years as well as several recent pieces.

Dana Wildsmith will be the featured artist for the 11th annual “Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Homecoming Poetry Reading,” slated for 4 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Appalachian Cultural Center.

Wildsmith worked as artist-in-residence for Devils Tower National Monument and Everglades National Park. She is a Hambidge Fellow and a Fellow of the South Carolina Academy of Poets. Her works include a book of poetry, “One Light,” a novel, “Jumping,” and an environmental memoir, “Back to Abnormal,” which was finalist for Georgia Author of the Year and earned her recognition as artist-in-residence for Grand Canyon National Park.

“A Sense of Place in Appalachia” will feature readings by Carson-Newman’s international students and guest poet and musician Nashwan Asef Abdullah. The event will take place at 4 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Appalachian Cultural Center.

The University’s international students will share poetry and readings in their native languages and discuss their “sense of place” as current residents in Appalachia. They will be joined Abdullah as the guest poet and musician.

“Reflections,” will then feature a violin performance by Abdullah at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in Thomas Recital Hall of the University’s Tarr Music Building.

Abdullah is a Syrian violinist who has traveled the world performing and studying music. In 2013, he started a project to compose and improvise music for poetry, novels and short stories. He continues to work on this ambitious undertaking to this day. Abdullah describes his style as a mix of Romani, Turkish, Persian and Syrian music, heavily influenced by Western classical compositions with a focus on professional improvisation. His performance will highlight the traditional stylistic differences between music in the Middle East and the West.

“An Evening with Terry Roberts” will give attendees an opportunity to hear from the author of “The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival” at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Appalachian Cultural Center.

Among Roberts’ forebears are prominent bootleggers and preachers but no one who, like Jedidiah Robbins, from “The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival,” combines both occupations. This, his third novel, was published by Turner Publishing in 2018. His debut novel, “A Short Time to Stay Here,” won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, and his second novel, “That Bright Land,” won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award as well as the James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South. Both novels won the annual Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, given to the author of the best novel written by a North Carolinian.

All programs are free and open to the public. The Appalachian Cultural Center is located on Russell Avenue on Carson-Newman’s campus.

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