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Writing program at Warren Wilson College presents open readings and lectures

Every six months, students from across the country gather at Warren Wilson College for an intensive 10-day residency of workshops, classes and readings, as part of the college’s MFA Program for Writers. These residencies are combined with a nonresidential semester of highly focused study, and a one-on-one mentorship with a faculty member who’s both an accomplished writer and dedicated teacher.

Six of the faculty members who have taught in the program have now received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction or poetry, two of them this year — Richard Russo, for his novel Empire Falls, and Carl Dennis, for his collection of poems Practical Gods.

The 26-year-old program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top-20 graduate programs in creative writing, and now boasts about 500 alumni who have published more than 300 books.

In conjunction with the 2002 summer residency, the MFA Program for Writers will present its semiannual series of readings and lectures, presented by fiction and poetry faculty and graduating students. The 10-day series, beginning Wednesday, July 3, is free and open to the public.

An extensive series of readings begin each evening at 8:15 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall behind the College Chapel through Saturday, July 13. Exceptions include the Sunday, July 7, reading, which takes place in Canon Lounge and the Saturday, July 13, reading, which begins at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by the MFA graduation ceremony.

Lectures begin at 9 a.m. in Fellowship Hall unless otherwise indicated, and include: Robert Boswell on “The Alternate Universe” at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, July 4; Pablo Medina on “Don Quixote and Huckleberry Finn: Partners in Crime” on Friday, July 5; Chris Forhan on “What Happens When I Say ‘I’?” on Saturday, July 6; Ellen Bryant Voigt on “More on Syntax” on Wednesday, July 10; Laura Kasischke on “How Should I Live?” on Thursday, July 11; Peter Turchi on “A Rigorous Geometry; or, Erathosthenes, Kundera, and You” on Friday, July 12; and Debra Spark on “Cheer Up – Why Don’t You?” at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 13.

For more information, call the MFA Program for Writers at 771-3715.

A guide to buying locally grown food

According to Charlie Jackson, projects coordinator for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), most of the food consumed in our area travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches the consumer.

“This means that a large part of the food dollar actually goes to transportation and packaging instead of the farmer,” he explains. Additionally, notes Jackson, “Fresh food loses nutritional value very quickly. Leafy greens can lose 50 percent of their nutritional value in five days, but on average it takes six days [for food to get] from harvest to the kitchen table.”

In contrast, not only can locally grown food often be purchased the day it is harvested, buying such food puts money back into the local economy and supports our local farmers, says Jackson. Unfortunately, while many consumers might prefer to eat local food, they don’t always know where to find it.

Enter the Buy Appalachian Local Food Guide, a 40-page guidebook just published by ASAP. The book includes listings of local farms, tailgate markets, restaurants, grocers and other businesses that sell or process local farm products.

“This is an important resource for consumers that value local food,” explains Jackson. “The great thing about eating locally grown food is that not only do you get to ‘eat your landscape’ by making sure the food you eat [sustains] our local farms, you get the freshest, most nutritious, and best tasting food available.”

The guide also highlights Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) — a direct connection between the farmer and the consumer. When consumers join a CSA, they buy a share of the season’s harvest. The farmer gains the security of knowing he or she has been paid for a portion of the harvest, and the farmer’s community participates in how and where their food is grown. “This direct connection puts the face and place of food in full view,” notes Jackson.

Another direct sale between farmers and consumers, of course, happens at tailgate markets. The guide lists more than 30 of these markets throughout western North Carolina. Consumers can pick up a copy of the free guide at any of the tailgate markets, as well as at such area businesses as Earth Fare, Laughing Seed and the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville; the Trout Lily Market in Fairview; What Cha Want Bodega in Cullowhee; Soul Infusion, the City Lights Bookstore and the Spring Street Cafe in Sylva; the Hendersonville Community Co-op & Blue Mountain Cafe; and the Waynesville Bookstore.

The guide is also available online (www.BuyAppalachian.org.) Farms and businesses that wish to be added to the guide on the Web can download an application form. Information will soon be posted on how to be included in the next printed edition of the guide, scheduled for the fall of 2002.

“Businesses [included in the guide] must sign a ‘contract’ where they pledge to buy local and increase their purchases of local food,” explains Jackson. Consumers can also play their part, he notes: “When you go to a restaurant or grocer listed in the guide, ask for dishes that contain locally grown food. Restaurants and grocers need to know that people want local [food] and they will respond by buying more from local farms.”

ASAP is a WNC community-based collaborative focused on sustaining farms and rural communities. The group is part of the Food Routes Network, a national learning community focused on local agriculture campaigns.

For more information, call 293-3262 or visit the ASAP Web site (www.asapconnections.org.)

Searching out contemporary and traditional crafts in WNC

You know they’re out there — local crafters making beautiful things amidst the nooks and crannies of Western North Carolina — but you just don’t know how to find them.

No problem.

HandMade in America has just published the third edition of The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina by Jay Fields and Brad Campbell. This guidebook divides our 23 mountain counties into seven scenic loop tours that stretch out from the Blue Ridge Parkway: “High Country Ramble,” “Circle the Mountain,” “Farm to Market,” “Mountain Cities,” “Cascades Trail,” “Shadows of the Smokies” and “The Lake Country.” Each tour not only highlights the craft studios and galleries you’ll find along that particular route, but also restaurants, historic inns and other notable attractions.

Lots of colorful side stories and photographs are also peppered throughout the guidebook. For a copy, stop by Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, call HandMade in America at 251-0121 or visit their Web site (www.handmadeinamerica.org.)

Self-guided tours are not the only option, though. The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design — a regional inter-institutional center of the University of North Carolina — will sponsor the second of three tours based on the guidebook on Friday, July 12, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. This tour, “Shadows of the Smokies,” focuses on a westward journey to the crafters working in Waynesville, Sylva and Dillsboro, and will include demonstrations, talks and an assortment of crafts ranging from classical marble sculpture to salt-fired pottery to stained glass windows.

Featured stops include the Twigs & Leaves Gallery, Burr Gallery, Whitewoven Handweaving Studio and Gallery, Mud Dabbers, Karcher Stone Carving Studio, and the picturesque Riverside Shops in Dillsboro. The trip costs $40, with lunch and transportation included.

Additionally, the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (located on the Kellogg Conference Center campus on Broyles Road in Henderson County), is hosting an exhibition through Sept. 20 featuring works from the artists found along these trails. The exhibition is free; gallery hours are 1-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Featured artists in this exhibition represent a wide array of mediums, including jewelry maker Molly Sharp; textile artist Edwina Bringle; quilter Genevieve Grundy; ceramic sculptor Kathy Triplett; glass artists Brent Cole and John Geci; clay artists John Ellenbogen, Cynthia Bringle, Tommy Williams and John Hagy; and artists from the Qualla Arts and Crafts Gallery.

For more information about the “Shadows of the Smokies” tour or the exhibit, call the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design at 890-2050 or visit their Web site (www.craftcreativitydesign.org.)

Educational and networking opportunities for local writers

Since its inception in 1985, The Writers’ Workshop, a nonprofit literary center in Asheville, has played host to countless writing workshops, retreats, conferences and social gatherings in which local writers get a chance to hone their skills and connect with fellow scribes.

The Workshop’s 2002 summer schedule continues this tradition by offering a slew of classes and workshops, a retreat and various social gatherings. All events require advance registration; financial assistance is available for low-income writers.

The schedule includes:

• “Writing and Publishing the Novel,” with John P. McAfee (author of two critically acclaimed novels, Slow Walk in a Sad Rain and On Rims of Empty Moons), a five-week class meeting on Wednesdays, July 17 through Aug. 14, 7-9 p.m. Cost is $115.

• “Poetry Workshop” with Catherine Carter (a teacher at Western Carolina University who has published in numerous journals), a one-day workshop on Saturday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $55.

• “Journaling Through Transition” with Judith Bush (who earned her MA in Creativity and Aging from Smith College, and leads workshops throughout the Southeast), a five-week class meeting on Tuesdays, July 23 through Aug. 20, 1-3 p.m. Cost is $95.

• “Playwriting Workshop” with Nathan Ross Freeman (author of numerous award-winning plays and winner of the 1997 NC Arts Council Playwright’s Fellowship), a one-day workshop on Saturday, Aug. 3, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost is $55.

• The Mountain Writers’ Retreat (with such daily sessions as “Writing & Revising Your Poetry, Fiction or Creative Nonfiction”, “The Nature Journal: Describing Sense of Place”, and “How to Be Your Own Editor”), a weekend retreat at the historic Duckett House in Hot Springs, Friday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 11. Cost is $285 (which includes everything except dinners); $150 for commuters.

• “Writing for Magazines and the Media” with Ron Chepesiuk (author of over 2,000 articles published in Modern Maturity, The New York Times, National Review, and Writer’s Digest), a one-day workshop on Saturday, Aug. 17, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost is $55.

• “Crafting the Short Story” with Max Childers (author of Things Undone, Alpha Omega and Mr. Lee and Other Stories), a day-long workshop on Saturday, Aug. 24, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost is $55.

Free summer events include a July 4 Barbecue, 5-9 p.m. at The Writers’ Workshop (bring food and drink to share, as well as your own stories or poems to read); a picnic at Lake Lure on Saturday, July 20, 12-5 p.m. (join other members for hiking, swimming and canoeing, and bring a picnic basket); a general meeting on Friday, July 26, 7 p.m. at The Writers’ Workshop, for those interested in monthly meetings (social, literary or critique); and a weekly outdoors club offering hikes, tennis, etc.

The Writers’ Workshop is located at 387 Beaucatcher Road in Asheville. For more information, call 254-8111 or e-mail WritrWkshp@aol.com

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