A simple, rustic cover – white, the title of the magazine in black, bold font, and a picture of a tilled field, wild tiger lilies framing the pastoral scene. The opening photograph, by Ann W. Olson, like the front cover, is of dilapidated stone steps running up a hill, framed by buttercups. The juxtaposition of decay with new life can be seen in many of Olson’s photographs, throughout the issue.
The issue opens with an essay by George Brosi, the editor, urging us as citizens to stand up for the environment, to band together to prevent future oil-slicks and coal mining disasters. This topic is picked up again, though more specifically speaking on coal mining, in several other essays in the volume. Appalachian pride is a recurring theme in these essays against coal mining as well as the directly titled essay “Appalachian Pride (In the Name of Love)” by Silas House, which praises the fortitude of Appalachian people, their ability to overcome and rise above their surroundings.
George Ella Lyon is the featured poet for the issue, with several of her poems and her inspiring essay “Inviting the Voice,” which shares her writing process. In “Receiving” by Lyon, the first poem of the issue, she shares a memory of holding her first child: “I had no idea of how to hold a baby” she states, plainly, as the baby “bellied / around like a snake,” “in search of something firmer / or freer.” This no-frills motherhood is beautiful in its simplicity and authentic emotion of the new mother, who “didn’t have a grip.”
Several articles on George Ella Lyon are included in the issue, such as “Where She’s From: The Mystery of the Making Place” by Kathy L. May and the thoughtful essay “We All Need Resurrecting: Transformations and Restorations in the Work of George Ella Lyon” by Robert M. West.
Other poems in the issue include Wendell Berry’s brief poem “Dark Horse,” that recalls a moral children’s rhyme, stating that Satan is “So moral, so electable, / And he knows the Bible so well!” “Elegy for a Hay Rake” by Jesse Graves, a poem that captures the hard-working “hard-used” spirit of the Appalachians through his elegy to a hay rake, which, like the people who owned it, lacked “all your labels, all your sheen.”
This summer issue of Appalachian Heritage showed the care and pride the local authors and the editors of the magazine have for their Appalachian home, and, as readers, we are permitted into this kinship, for a short while.