...from the editor


My father, a man who is passionate about the Mountain Empire – as he calls it – was born in a house on the Melvin Curve, South Clinchfield, Virginia. His father – a moonshiner, coal miner, then preacher – grew up on Sandy Ridge in Russell County, Virginia, on land that goes back seven generations from me. There are roots here. And here, for me, is Northeast Tennessee.

Father thinks Cratis Williams and Jesse Stuart hung the moon, and that the best poetry he knows is from the Carter Family. I’ve heard him – in his large, relentless, logical voice – dissuade the naïve “outsider” – as he calls him or her – from mispronouncing such a sacred word as Appalachia. “If they can’t say it correctly,” he tells me, “don’t listen to what they have to say. It won’t amount to anything.” It’s nearly impossible to argue with him.

For several years now I’ve wanted a special issue for Blue Fifth Review, devoted to Appalachian poetry. The wait has been worth it. I was excited about all the possibilities when Felicia Mitchell, a great friend and great writer, agreed to guest edit. Her work on this project has been supreme, and she has delivered a strong issue – bringing together such distinct and commanding voices as doris davenport, Jeff Daniel Marion, Kathryn Stripling Byer, and Jeff Mann.

Add to this blending the stunning words from Nicole Cartwright Denison, Scott Owens, Helen Losse, Libby Falk Jones, Jim Minick, Morgan Richards, and haunting images from Jason Hibbitts – and you will encounter a real sense of place. Appalachia. As you read, discover something new, become reacquainted with the world, or nod yes … I know this. And you are more than welcome here.

With thought,

Sam Rasnake

Current Issue - Spring Supplement 2008