Walters State Community College will host the third annual Mildred Haun Conference Feb. 1 through Feb. 2, beginning at 9 a.m., on the college’s Morristown campus. Registration for this year’s conference, the theme of which is “our stories,” is free and open to the public.
The conference is a celebration of Appalachian literature, scholarship and culture.
Its namesake, Hamblen County native Mildred Haun, authored “The Hawk’s Done Gone,” a critically acclaimed collection of tales of Appalachian fiction.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer this event to students and community members at no charge,” Walters State professor Dr. Viki Rouse said.
An associate professor of English, Rouse chairs the conference and is considered among leading Haun experts.
“We truly feel that one must understand and value one’s own region in order to be better global citizens, understanding cultures that are not our own,” Rouse said. The conference’s keynote speech, given by author Anne Shelby, will be a tribute to author Jeff Daniel Marion and the stage production of “Tales from Electric Mountain.”
Shelby’s published works include essays, poetry, children’s novels, plays, songs and newspaper columns.
Her children’s books include “The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales” and “The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree,” and her published work includes a collection of poems, “Appalachian Studies,” and a collection of her newspaper columns, “Can a Democrat Get Into Heaven?”
Shelby will speak at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, and on Saturday she’ll perform “The Works of Aunt Molly Jackson: The Lone Pilgrim,” based on the life of the well-known American folk singer. Jackson is perhaps most famous for singing her song “Ragged, Hungry Blues” in front of the 1931 Dreiser Committee, which was investigating mining conditions in Harlan County, Ky. The singer frequently performed with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger before a car accident left her incapacitated. She died in 1960. Rouse said this year’s conference includes a bonus, which was based on feedback from previous conferences – writers’ workshops led by successful authors. The workshops will be held Friday morning before the conference kicks off at 1 p.m. Leading the workshops will be noted writers Amy Greene, Jason Howard, Jesse Graves, George Ella Lyon and Ted Olsen. Other Friday events include a performance by the East Tennessee State University Old Time Band and a reception honoring Jeff Daniel Marion. Marion has served as poet-in-residence at Carson-Newman College and as artist-in residence at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of four collections of poems, a children’s book and many literary magazine articles. He received a literary fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission in 1978. Saturday’s schedule also features several scholarly sessions.
At 9:45 a.m., the Walters State Music and Theatre Department will present “Tales from the Electric Mountain,” written by Dr. John Lee Welton and directed by Chris Morelock.
Morelock is an assistant professor of developmental reading and writing at Walters State. Michael Reno Harrell will also perform. For more, contact the college’s Division of Humanities at 423-585-6922.