Around Town: Brevard woman wants to share her mother’s poetry with young poets

A WOMAN OF WORDS: Grace Beacham Freeman was active in the poetry scene in Western North Carolina from 1987 to 2002. Photo courtesy of Kae Parker

When Grace Beacham Freeman died in 2002, she left behind boxes of her poetry spanning six decades. Now, just in time for National Poetry Month, her daughter, Kae Parker, would like to make her words available to established and aspiring poets.

“[My mother] had such a long career with poetry and other writing, and she always encouraged young poets in particular to go ahead and do their craft,” says Parker, a Brevard resident.

Freeman’s writing career included a stint as South Carolina’s poet laureate, 1985-86. In 1987, she moved to Brevard and became active in the local literary community, giving readings several times a year around Western North Carolina.

Parker is looking to donate seven-book sets that trace Freeman’s growth as a poet, including her full-length collections: No Costumes or Masks (1975), Midnight to Dawn (1981) and Not Set in Stone (1986).

Freeman counted among her mentors Archibald Hamilton Rutledge, the first South Carolina poet laureate, and James Dickey, best known for his 1970 novel Deliverance.  A weeklong writing workshop taught by Dickey encouraged Freeman to develop a more contemporary style, her daughter explains.

“Her poetry combines humor with a depth of emotion of grief,” Parkers says. “She was an only child, and when she was very young, she learned that there were two boys before her. One was stillborn and the other lived to be about 18 months. And so that power of grief was part of Mother, though she was a very vivacious, positive person.”

Those interested in receiving the book sets can contact Parker at Requests will be honored while supplies last. 

Music in the mountains

The Coda Music Festival is returning to Montreat College for the first time since 2019.

Country singer-songwriter Kaitlyn Baker and other artists with Appalachian roots will perform at the student-run festival, which will be 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15. The music event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions, while a smaller event was held last year in its place.

“Historically, it’s been more of a rock, alternative-rock type thing,” says Chris Fraser, a music business student who is organizing the festival along with about a dozen other students. “We decided this year to go with more of an Appalachian-heritage thing. We wanted that to be the central theme because we found a lot of really good artists from around this area.”

The festival lineup will be:

  • Asheville fiddler Andrew Finn Magill, noon- 1 p.m.
  • Asheville mountain swing musician Laura Boosinger, 1:20-2:10 p.m.
  • Brevard string band Pretty Little Goat, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
  • John John Toineeta, a storyteller who specializes in Cherokee chants and mythology, 3:50-4:40 p.m.
  • Asheville Americana band Ashes and Arrows, 5:10-5:55 p.m.
  • Country singer Baker, a native of southwest Virginia, 6:15-7:15 p.m.

Fraser says he and the other students have been planning the festival as part of a weekly class since August. “It’s probably simultaneously the hardest class that I’ve had and the most rewarding, just because it’s real. It’s nothing like you could learn on paper or even on online tests.”

For the first time, the festival will be held on the college’s soccer field/track area rather than the central campus. “We’ve kind of outgrown that, and we needed a bigger area,” Fraser says. People are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, towels and sunscreen to the alcohol-free, kid-friendly event. Food trucks and other vendors will be on hand.

Tickets are free for Montreat students who show an ID, $12 for other students and $18 for adults. Kids 5 and younger are free.

The Montreat College Black Mountain campus is at 191 Vance Ave. For more information, visit

Fantastic voyage

Asheville-based rapper VVitchboy (born Johnchel Foster) has released the self-published fantasy novel Murder Death Orgy. It’s the second volume in a planned trilogy that began with last year’s Immortal Verse: Crystal Song Experiment. Both books are illustrated by Alexis Lii.

“I’ve been into the fantasy genre since I was a kid, reading Redwall, Broken Sky and the Harry Potter books,” he says. “As I got older, I continued to intake fantasy and sci-fi media and anime. I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember, so it was only a matter of time until I wrote my own.”

Murder Death Orgy tells the story of a group of magicians and martial artists traveling to the ancient capital of a past empire. The trip starts off simply but soon devolves into chaos, VVitchboy says.

“It’s written in second person, putting the reader in the passenger’s seat,” he explains. “The characters have their own agency, and the story is linear, unlike a CYOA [Choose Your Own Adventure] novel, but the experience I’m told is still quite immersive.”

To buy the book, go to

What’s (re)happening?

Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center’s {Re}HAPPENING 11 will be 3-10 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at the historic Lake Eden campus.

The event will feature contemporary artists. “Visitors will encounter an immersive collection of projects in the tradition of BMC — installation, sound, movement, visual art and interactive media — which respond to and extend the legacy of Black Mountain College and its visionaries,” the museum says in a press release.

The {Re}HAPPENING, first held in 2010, was inspired by legendary avant-garde composer John Cage’s 1952 Theatre Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance at Black Mountain College.

The Lake Eden campus is at 375 Lake Eden Road, Black Mountain. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

The road to Calvary

Execution Experience, an interactive exhibit of Jesus’ final journey to the cross painted by inmates on death row in Tennessee, will be on display 5-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 6-8, at Covenant Community Church.

“Each of the paintings highlights Jesus’ stance of solidarity with those who society has deemed unworthy of life and offers opportunities for viewers to stand in solidarity with those who are a part of the criminal justice system today,” the church says in a press release. “When the men on Tennessee’s death row began these paintings several years ago, they wanted to offer an interpretation of Jesus’ journey to the cross that is informed by their own experience awaiting execution.”

Covenant Community Church is at 11 Rocket Drive, Suite 100. The exhibit is an outdoor, self-guided walk. For more information, go to

Handmade art

First Presbyterian Church will present With These Hands: Mixed Blessings, an exhibit of works by retired art educator Shirley Walker Whitesides through the end of April. Whitesides will give a talk at the church at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, April 16.

Whitesides uses shape, color and texture in her artwork, which incorporates acrylic and watercolor painting, pictorial quilt-making and the use of found objects. “She often mixes these with photographs and articles to convey a message that opens dialogue about African American culture and its history,” the church says in a press release.

First Presbyterian Church is at 40 Church St., but those wishing to see the exhibit should go to the visitors lot on Aston Street. The show is open to the public 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Friday, April 29.

Charles Frazier conversation

Award-winning author Charles Frazier will launch his new novel, The Trackers, in a conversation with author Wiley Cash at 7 p.m. Monday, April 10, at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Hall. The ticketed event is sponsored by Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café.

The Trackers tells the story of a Depression-era painter who travels to a rural Wyoming town to create a mural for its new post office representing the region. It’s the fifth novel for Asheville native Frazier, who won the National Book Award for fiction for his 1997 debut Cold Mountain.

UNCA students and staff may attend for free by showing their UNCA ID at the door.

Admission for the event, which includes a signed hardcover copy of The Trackers, is $30.

Lipinsky Hall is at 300 Library Lane on the UNCA campus. For more information or to buy a ticket, visit


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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One thought on “Around Town: Brevard woman wants to share her mother’s poetry with young poets

  1. Lance Earnest

    I have recently found Grace Beacham Freeman’s poetry and have to say.. I am stunned by her fierce tenderness.
    Thank you Grace.

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