Around Town: Cherokee author’s new collection explores interconnectedness

AUTHOR, AUTHOR: The collection 11 Conjured Stories is MariJo Moore's 27th book. Photo courtesy of Moore

After several years spent editing and publishing the works of Indigenous writers, artists and activists, MariJo Moore is back with her latest book, 11 Conjured Stories.

“Although I enjoy helping others who have a right to be heard, it feels good to be back in my own writing,” says Moore, a poet, journalist and author who is of Eastern Cherokee, Dutch and Irish ancestry.

Moore will read and sign copies of 11 Conjured Stories at Asheville Raven & Crone on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m. She describes her latest collection as a mix of fact, fiction and “faction,” offering readers new ways to consider one’s inner self.  

“My editor of this collection, Tom Kerr, told me, ‘I think that over the years you’ve discovered a more revealing voice and the courage needed to share it,’” she says. “I totally agree, as I am at the age now where I no longer feel obligated to explain, argue about or apologize for what I am and what I am not.”

Among the collection’s stories, Moore hopes “This Earth Is Tilting — An Enlightened Nana Speaks” will touch the lives of many, especially young women, mothers and grandmothers.

Meanwhile, in “Stories from Spirits,” Moore takes the opportunity to explain her writing process to readers.

“These stories offer an opportunity to journey into a deep reality that sometimes people miss due to structured reasoning, political mindsets, organized religion, culture, lack of knowledge and misunderstanding the importance of all people,” she explains. “Basically, we are all interconnected through our spirits, and the spirit of everything in this universe.”

Asheville Raven & Crone is at 640 Merrimon Ave., Suite 207. For more information, go to

Golden celebration

LEAF 50th Festival was supposed to take place in May 2020 but was canceled when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The following year, organizers put together an event with about half the usual number of people and dubbed it the 49.5th festival.

“You only get one chance in your life to have a 50th celebration,” says Jennifer Pickering, LEAF founder and executive director. “And so, we wanted to wait until we knew that the time was right and that the world was right — a place of health and safety and kindness, so that we could all come together in a full celebration.”

LEAF 50th Festival finally will take place at Lake Eden on the grounds of the historic Black Mountain College, Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 20-23. The celebration’s theme is “Legends of Africa.”

The weekend will include performances from world music superstars Angélique Kidjo of Benin, Rocky Dawuni of Ghana, Chinobay of Uganda, the LEAF International Rwanda J. Troupe with Culture Keeper David Kwizera and more. The bill also will include American musical acts such as Chatham County Line, Jordan Scheffer, Funkin’ Around with Garfield, Melissa McKinney and longtime festival favorites Ménage and The Dead Poets, both of whom are reuniting for the celebration.

Also on tap will be an assortment of events including Poetry Slam with James Nave, Unifire Theater, the Street Creature Puppet Collective and Keith Shubert‘s Toybox Theater.

Roots rockers Donna the Buffalo, who were at the first leaf festival in 1995, will perform on Sunday as will finale headliners Rising Appalachia, led by Leah Song and Chloe Smith. The sisters first attended LEAF as children with their parents more than 20 years ago, Pickering says.

“This has been a really tricky time to both stay alive and then to start to rebuild,” Pickering says. “We were in place of almost losing it and of not knowing if we could go forward because of the pandemic. And so, this 50th celebration is really that moment of us stepping into the future and rebuilding and creating.”

The festival takes place at 377 Lake Eden Road, Black Mountain. To see the full lineup or buy tickets, go to

Stop the Pain

When country musician and Enka native Jody Medford lost his mother to suicide several years ago, he knew he wanted to do something to help people in pain.

“On top of it being a huge shock and heartache to the family, you also have to scramble to try to cover funeral costs,” he says. “Not long after my mom passed, I saw on TV where a woman lost her daughter to suicide, and she said her daughter had been bullied and couldn’t take it anymore.”

So, Medford launched Stop the Pain, a free concert to raise awareness of suicide and bullying. The fourth annual concert will take place Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m., at Asheville Outlets.

The show is free, but organizers will collect donations that go to local families that have lost loved ones to suicide.

Headlining the concert will be Richie McDonald, former lead singer of country band Lonestar. Also on the bill will be Medford’s band, local country artist Kayla McKinney and bluegrass band Sons of Ralph.

Between sets, guest speakers will share stories of losing loved ones.

“The last concert we had, I had three people contact me on Facebook to say they felt like the concert saved their life,” Medford says. “They were contemplating suicide, but after hearing the pain it caused families, they said they were going to try to think more positive. I was so happy to hear this news because my goal is if we save one life it’s worth all the effort to do these concerts.”

Asheville Outlets is at 800 Brevard Road. For more information, go to

75 years and counting

The 75th annual fall edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands takes place Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 13-16, at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (with an earlier end time of 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16).

The fair will feature contemporary and traditional artisans working in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media and jewelry. Members of the craft guild will fill the arena and concourse level of the downtown Asheville venue.

Participating artists underwent a two-step jury process as a part of the guild’s effort to uphold its established standards. The fair will also feature craft demonstrations with interactive activities for visitors and mountain musicians performing live on the arena stage.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Ghost of a chance

Hendersonville Theater will present The Haunting of Hill House Friday, Oct. 14-Sunday, Oct. 23. The show will run at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, the play tells the story of a small group of “psychically receptive” people who are brought together in a desolate and deserted mid-Victorian mansion known as a place of evil.

Jonathan Forrester will direct a cast made up of Madison BrightwellKai Elijah HamiltonJoshua KerberAllison StarlingTerry TerranovaSharon Taylor and Blaine Weiss.

For more information or to buy tickets, go to

Cherokee remembrance

The Center for Craft will celebrate the opening WMG The Basket, a collaborative public art installation centering on indigenous voices in downtown Asheville on Saturday, Oct. 15, 1-4 p.m.

The installation, which is on a historic Cherokee trading route, addresses the lack of recognition of Cherokee culture and heritage in downtown Asheville. The artwork will allow visitors to learn about the Cherokee land, language, traditions and culture that are still thriving today.

The day will include interactive family-friendly activities inside and outside the Center for Craft and live craft demonstrations by cultural specialists from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian as well as music, a Cherokee fry bread pop-up and more.

The Center for Craft is at 67 Broadway. For more information, 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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