WCU professors read at Tuesday’s Literary Festival Events

The second day of the 10th annual Spring Literary Festival kicked off with Mary Adams and Catherine Carter reading selections of their poetry on Tuesday, March 20.

Carter read from her book “The Swamp Monster at Home,” while Adams read from her poetry collection “Epistles from the Planet Photosynthesis.”

Both poets’ work branched across a myriad of topics, ranging from Rush Limbaugh to the death of loved ones to men’s neckties. Their work included humor, with sarcasm and wit being prevailing themes throughout the program.

The audience, which laughed often during the hour-long poetry reading, included many members of the English department faculty. Chancellor Belcher was also in attendance.

Adams and Carter are faculty here at Western Carolina University in the English department.

Tuesday’s Festival events continued at 8 p.m. with another WCU English professor.

Ron Rash, poet, short story writer and novelist, along with being the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at WCU, took the stage to speak to a group of over 200 admirers and students.

Joined by Rob Neufeld of the Asheville Citizen-Times for an emceed audience Q&A, Rash answered questions regarding his upbringing, his latest works and read from two of his poetry collections: “Eureka Mill”and “Waking.”

Discussed at the Q&A was the upcoming film adaption of Serena. The movie, which set to be released in 2014, will be directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier for 2929 Productions. Actors Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“The Hunger Games”) will play George and Serena, respectively.

On the choice of Lawrence to portray Serena, who many fans believe is too young to play the strong and ambitious timber queen, Rash simply said, “My son is happy with the choice.”

Rash also discussed his upbringing, relaying how his times of wandering through the woods at his grandmother’s farm in Aho and the solitude he experienced during the summers he spent there helped to make him a writer. He used phrases like “dreamy” and “stumbling around” to describe the rearing of an Appalachian artist.

On the topic of Appalachian writers and their climbing success internationally, Rash described his goal as a writer of “turning around this idea that Appalachia has been dehumanized in pop culture through either being depicted as cannibals or albinos.”

 Rash also stated that he is proud that so many Appalachian writers have found success, saying, “Every time you shake a bush in Appalachia a writer falls out.”

Rash’s works include the 2009/PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Timesbestselling novel “Serena,” in addition to three other prizewinning novels: “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “The World Made Straight.” Rash wrote four collections of poems and four collections of stories, among them “Burning Bright,” which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Rash’s newest novel, “The Cove,” is set in the Mars Hill area during the final months of WWI and explores the cruel nature of humans to ostracize the misunderstood and dehumanize cultures viewed as enemies. It will be released on April 10. Rash will read from his new novel at City Lights Café in Downtown Sylva on Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m.