Western (N.C.) lit.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: There are some terrific writers in this region. Thanks to them, WNC is enjoying a literary Golden Age; and with such luminaries as Wilma Dykeman and Charles F. Price (not to mention the newly crowned king of Carolina literature, Charles Frazier) regularly frequenting these parts, the citizens of Asheville are getting positively spoiled. To honor those and other wonderful scribes, the WNC Historical Association, a nonprofit corporation promoting and preserving WNC’s regional history, is seeking nominations for the 1999 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award.

Presented annually to a WNC-based book, the award was first given to Dykeman in 1955 for her book about the French Broad River; other recipients have included John Paris, Gail Godwin, John Ehle, Ron Eller and the Appalachian Consortium. Consideration will be given to works which focus attention on WNC — even if a substantial portion of the work relates to other areas — provided that the author is a native or resident of the mountain region. To be considered for the 1999 award, applicants should submit a letter of nomination and a copy of the work in question to the Awards Committee, postmarked by July 1, 1999. Entries may be works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or drama, but they must have been published between January 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999.

The award will be presented during the tenth annual Thomas Wolfe Festival in October. Entries should be sent to: Awards Committee, WNC Historical Association, 283 Victoria Road, Asheville, NC 28801.

For more information, call Association Vice President David Holcombe at 254-1921, ext. 337.

Can you dig it?

While Warren Wilson College has a reputation as a leader in diverse fields, it’s less well-known that the school’s campus contains one of the most important archaeological sites in the southern Appalachians. The pre-European Cherokee village, dated to around A.D. 1400, is about to become the primary project of the 1999 Cherokee Archaeology Field School, a joint undertaking of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the college.

The 1999 Field School will open with a public ceremony on Monday, June 7 at the site, near the Swannanoa River; Marie Junaluska, a member of the Cherokee Tribal Council, will preside, with Lynne Harlan, executive director of the tribe’s Cultural Resources Division, and Field School Director David Moore also contributing. Archaeological artifacts will be on display.

The excavation agreement between the college and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians — which requires that any burial remains found at the site not be moved, and that the tribe and all Native American participants in the project be notified, in writing, of any such finding — now serves as a model for other archaeological explorations of Cherokee sites. At this writing, space is still available for participation in the four-week field school.

For registration information, call Moore at 274-6789, or write to: Cherokee Archaeology at Warren Wilson, P.O. Box 9000, Asheville, NC 28815-9000.

Doula the right thing

As the process of childbirth becomes more impersonal and high-tech, it can be refreshing to learn that some centuries-old, traditional practices are still in use. Such is the role of the doula — a trained, experienced person (usually a woman) who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a woman during childbirth. (The just-departed month of May, in fact, is International Doula Month.)

Having a doula present during childbirth has been shown to greatly improve obstetrical outcomes; these benefits have been recognized by many mainstream medical associations, including the World Health Organization, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, the Institute for Health Care Improvement and the Medical Leadership Council (whose members include 1,200 U.S. hospitals). On Wednesday, June 23 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Buncombe County Health Center will show the video Special Women, which explains the role of the doula before, during and even after childbirth. Doulas will also be on hand to answer questions and facilitate discussion.

For more information, contact Cheryl T. Orengo at 250-5053.

Now that’s a summer job

As any performing artist can tell you, it’s hard to find good work; all too often, the choice parts are few and far between, and the competition can be pretty thick.

Here’s a local opportunity for budding young performers, though: The YMI Cultural Center will hold auditions for its “Sliding Through the Comfort Zone,” a poetry and movement-theater project involving 15 teenage students from diverse racial and economic backgrounds. Designed to explore how American society defines appropriate behavior according to a specific culture — and how the cultural differences are often judged, rather than accepted as part of the fabric — the project will be led by mime-and-movement-theater artist Hilarie Porter and performance-poet Glenis Redmond.

Auditions for “The Comfort Zone” — open to rising high-school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and dedicated seniors — will be held at the YMI Cultural Center on Sunday, June 6, from 3 to 5 p.m. Participants will be asked to sign a contract of commitment covering both the rehearsal/creative phase and the performance phase (which will run from September to December). Project participants will be paid $200. Summer rehearsals will be held at the YMI two or three mornings a week, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; in September, the schedule will be adjusted to accommodate school hours.

To learn more, call Hilarie Porter at 258-2493.

— cobblingly compiled by Paul Schattel

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