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Asheville Wordfest presents Healing the Soul of Appalachia

From our friends at Asheville Wordfest:

Asheville—Asheville Wordfest returns April 12-14 for a free-or-by-donation festival celebrating poetry and stories.

The theme for festival’s twelfth year is “Healing the Soul of Appalachia.” Maintaining a commitment to multicultural programming, Asheville Wordfest invites audiences and participants to venture deeply into spaces of tension and complexity in search of possibility with readings and workshops featuring poets, authors, artists, storytellers, and community facilitators.

Director Laura Hope-Gill says, “I see the Asheville Renaissance in full motion now, and for me, the goal is to make it a whole-community Renaissance, bringing our many voices together. We can do this.”

Asheville is rich with thought leaders and change-makers. Asheville Wordfest is an opportunity to spend a weekend writing and reflecting on each of our places in the world and our role in the human community. At Wordfest, poetry and creative writing are not commodities to be consumed but vehicles for spiritual and philosophical evolution.

The festival is free and by donation for events with the exception of Word Storytelling at Attic Salt on Friday April 12. All donations will go to presenters and to the sustainability of the festival. In keeping with Wordfest’s vision of social and economic equity, donations allow each to give as they can.

On Friday April 12 at 5:30 pm, the festival begins with a community screening of Hannah Gadsby’s one-woman show, Nanette, hosted by Mendy Knott and Laura Hope-Gill, who both founded the standing-room-only poetry series, Café of Our Own. Nanette opens the frame for the festival by drawing attention to the value of story and truth-telling. Storytelling continues with David Joe Miller, DeWayne Barton, and Lee Lindsay.

On Saturday and Sunday, the classrooms at Lenoir-Rhyne Asheville fill with workshops in reflection, community-building, and writing, led by Asheville’s thought leaders and bridge-builders, including Byron Ballard, Sharon Oxendine of Lumbee Nation, Nickole Brown, Jessica Jacobs, Afrofuturist, Darrell Stover, Cherokee author and teacher, Cara Forbes, poet-editor Luke Hankins, and many more.

Saturday’s Keynote features Dr. Michael Newton, globally renowned Gaelic scholar. Dr. Newton explores how the Scotch-Irish (or “Scots-Irish”) are often invoked to explain the history and characteristics of the Euro-American communities of Appalachia, claiming “Celticity” Newton asks whether this is an accurate historical and cultural claim.

On Saturday night, Explore! Asheville presents a reading by North Carolina Poet Laureate [and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee! – ed.] Jaki Shelton Green.

Green’s poetry casts a canopy over all humanity, says festival founder and director Laura Hope-Gill, “Anyone who has felt their heart break can find shelter in her work. Anyone who has sought comfort in either spirit or community can find it in these poems as well.” Green and Hope-Gill share a commitment to poetry’s power to bind and heal, whether it be a person, a community, or the entire planet. The two will collaborate in piano-poetry duets at YMI Cultural Center on Saturday April 13 at 8:00 p.m. Also, reading with Jaki are Mildred Barya of Uganda, Lia Purpura, and Michael Hettich.

With facilitators from ridges to foothills, from neighborhoods southside to north, Wordfest’s workshops offer models for written self-expression with time to create your own works.

Hope-Gill says “Weaving story from experience is not always as easy as it sounds, in fact, it may be one of the most difficult. Once we begin, we discover that every moment has countless layers, and once we begin exploring them, the single “life” we thought we were writing becomes these woven webs of experience and contradiction. This is the healing process, and Wordfest’s workshops facilitators are skilled navigators.”

Asheville Wordfest is sponsored by Explore! Asheville, the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis, Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville Graduate Center, Word Storytelling, David Hopes, Hotel Indigo, and Connie Regan-Blake.