WSCC to host Haun Conference celebrating Appalachia

Published 2:40 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

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Walters State Community College will host the “12th Annual Mildred Haun Conference: A Celebration of Appalachian Literature, Culture and Scholarship,” Feb. 4-5 on the Morristown Campus. This year’s theme is “Staying or Coming Home: An Appalachian Dilemma.”

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Crystal Wilkinson. Wilkinson is the award-winning author of “The Birds of Opulence,” which received the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. Other works by Wilkerson include “Water Street” and “Blackberries, Blackberries.” Wilkerson is an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of Kentucky. She will speak at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.

Appalachian Mountain Books will be open in the lobby of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex throughout the conference.

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Here is the complete schedule:

Friday, Feb. 4

9-10:30 a.m. – Fiction Workshop with Charles Dodd White, recipient of the Appalachian Book Prize and the author of four books and a short story collection.

10:45-11:30 a.m. – “Ghosts in the Graveyard: The Haunting of Bent Creek Cemetery by Dr. Michael Sobiech, associate professor of English at Carson-Newman University.

12:30-2 p.m. – Nonfiction Workshop with Dr. Desirae Matherly, chair of English and languages at Tusculum University and recipient of the 2018 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Nonfiction.

2:15-3:30 p.m. – Crystal Wilkinson (See above.)

3:30 p.m. – Announcement of the recipient of the Mildred Haun Award of Excellence and book giveaway.

Saturday, Feb.  5

9-10:30 a.m. – Songwriting-Fiction Hybrid Workshop with Dr. Michael Amos Cody, a professor of English who began his career as a songwriter with songs recorded by Glen Campbell and Gary Morris. (Instruments are welcome and encouraged.)

10:45-11:45 a.m. – Scholarly Presentation by Dr. Peter Noll, Dr. Katherine Everhart, Samantha Nelson and Maggie Vickers, “Agricultural and Demographic Change: Greene County and Appalachian Burley Tobacco”

10:45-11:45 a.m. – Scholarly Presentation by Melissa Helton, “Turning the Pile of Poems into a Manuscript”

12:45-2:15 p.m. – Poetry Workshop with Rosemary Royston, assistant professor of English at Young Harris College and author of “Second Sight” and “Splitting the Soil.”

2:30-3:15 p.m. –Special Guest Speaker, Larry Thacker, “Swap Shop, Appalachia and Me”

Thacker is a cast member in the Netflix show, “Swap Shop.” His poetry has been published in 180 publications. He has published four books of poetry and three fiction collections.

3:15-3:30 p.m. – Book Giveaway

The event honors the legacy of Mildred Haun, a Hamblen County native and the author of “The Hawk’s Done Gone.” The book, originally published in 1940, is considered a classic in Appalachian literature. Haun died in 1966 and is buried in the cemetery of Dover Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Russellville.

While the conference is free, registration is requested. For more information, visit the conference website at or contact conference chair Kelsey A. Solomon, instructor of English, at 423-585-6963 or