Around Town: Queer Girls Literary Reading moves to Rabbit, Rabbit

Lori Horvitz, left, started the Queer Girls Literary Reading series in 2009 “to bring together and celebrate our community of queer-identified women.” This year’s event will be held at Rabbit Rabbit. Photo courtesy of Horvitz

The first Queer Girls Literary Reading was held in 2009 in the library of Phil Mechanic Studios. The weather was freezing, and organizers had to turn off a loud heater each time a reader came up onstage, remembers Lori Horvitz, the event’s originator.

On Sunday, Oct. 17, things should be just a bit different, as Horvitz prepares for the 12th annual gathering, taking place for the first time at Rabbit, Rabbit, 75 Coxe Ave. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the series will feature three UNC Asheville students and five seasoned writers reading queer-themed material, including Polly Schattel, author of the 2020 novel The Occultists and Mandy Gardner, a Moth StorySLAM-winning storyteller.

“A literary reading gives our community and allies a chance to gather in one place and hear stories; stories are not only entertaining, but an essential part of being human,” Horvitz says. “And for so long, many in the queer community felt and were treated — and still are [treated] in some cases — as subhuman.”

The reading, adds Horvitz, seems particularly important given the recent cancellation of the Blue Ridge Pride festival. “Our community, I suspect, is antsy to get out and celebrate,” she says.

Suggested donation for the reading is $5-$10. After paying expenses, any profits will be divided among the readers.

For more information, visit

Sacrifices remembered

The construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad in the 1870s led to Asheville’s dramatic growth, opening the area to industrial development and tourism. Because of this, the project’s leaders and advocates, including then-Gov. Zebulon Vance, have long been recognized by history. The laborers who built the railroad, however, have not.

Until now.

The Railroad Incarcerated Labor Memorial plaque will be dedicated Sunday, Oct. 17, at 3:30 p.m. at Andrews Geyser in Old Fort. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to the outdoor event.

“The people who did the heavy and dangerous labor to build the railroad were almost all incarcerated African American men — most former slaves — who were sentenced to hard labor on mostly petty or trumped-up, charges,” says Dan Pierce, a history professor at UNC Asheville. “They labored under brutal conditions: ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed.”

At least 139 of the workers died of injury or disease and are buried alongside the tracks in unmarked graves, making the area “a mass graveyard,” Pierce says.

“The RAIL Memorial Project seeks to provide at least a modest memorial to their sacrifice,” he continues.

The effort originated with Pierce and Marion Mayor Steve Little, who helped organize a steering committee. More than 50 individuals and groups have donated money, including the James G.K. McClure Educational and Development Fund, the town of Old Fort, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners and the St. James Episcopal Church in Black Mountain.

Andrews Geyser is at 2111 Mill Creek Road, Old Fort. To learn more, visit

All’s fair

After moving online last year due to COVID-19, the fall edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands returns to Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 14-17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (with an earlier end time of 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17).

“Having a virtual fair cannot compare to the experience of having our visitors meet and relate to the artist, craftsperson [or] maker that created the piece they purchase,” says Janet Wiseman, special events coordinator for the Southern Highland Craft Guild. “The connection between the maker and the buyer is an important one. As one of the foundational events of downtown Asheville since the 1950s, we are excited to be back live.”

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.

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required for entry.

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

Picture show

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts will present The Return of the Red House Photographers in its upper gallery through Friday, Oct. 29. The free exhibit is open to the public Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The 13 participating photographers are members of the 54-year old Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League, located in the Red House next to the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain. The photography exhibit is part of an annual collaboration between the nonprofit arts center and the arts league’s artist-run collective.

The show features more than 40 images with subject matters including landscapes, portraits, architecture, abstracts and nature.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is at 225 W. State St., Black Mountain. For more information about the exhibit, go to

Unequal education

UNC Chapel Hill is one of the most prestigious public universities in the country, but its history has been entwined with white supremacy and institutional racism, says author and civil rights attorney Geeta N. Kapur.

The North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign and the YMI Cultural Center will present a conversation with Kapur about her recent book, To Drink From the Well: The Struggle for Racial Equality at the Nation’s Oldest Public University, on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m. at the YMI Cultural Center.

The book explores such topics as the use of slave labor in building the university, its exclusion of nonwhite students for more than 150 years and the recent controversy surrounding the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. Kapur will be in conversation with UNC Asheville Professor Emeritus Dwight Mullen, who in 2006, launched The State of Black Asheville, a course that examined the role of race in local public policy.

The YMI Cultural Center is at 20-44 Eagle St. For more information or to register, visit The event also will be streamed live online at

Go with the flow

The Village Potters Clay Center will present Grounded Flow, an exhibit featuring works by apprentices Caroline Woolard and Keira Peterson, Friday, Oct. 15-Sunday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The show will take place in the Emerging Artist Gallery at the center, 191 Lyman St., in the the River Arts District. A livestreamed opening reception will be Friday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m., on The Village Potters Clay Center’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

According to a press release, Woolard creates “functional pottery with the intention of nurturing those who use it in their daily rituals, uplifting their spirits and homes as it invites them to find gratitude in the present moment.”

Peterson’s work “integrates organic textures and colors reminiscent of those found in nature, and transposes them into simple, elegant forms,” the press release also notes.

 For more information, go to


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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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