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Poet Jim Wayne Miller celebrated in Summer 09 ''Appalachian Heritage''

Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center held a panel discussion on June 12 to celebrate the Summer 2009 issue of “Appalachian Heritage” that featured the late Jim Wayne Miller (1936-1996), a poet and pioneer in Appalachian literature and Appalachian Studies.

Poet Jim Wayne Miller

“Jim Wayne Miller has done more for Appalachian writing in our time than anyone else,” says Robert Morgan, Professor of English at Cornell University and author of numerous volumes of poetry and fiction. “Rereading his poems remind us that he is not only a poet of the mountains, but of the planet.”

Co-sponsored by the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and the Department of English, Theatre, and Speech Communication, the event was held in conjunction with the Alumni Office during the Summer Reunion, as both Jim Wayne and his widow, Mary Ellen Miller, are alumni of Berea College.

Panelists included Jim Wayne’s widow Mary Ellen Miller, ’57, Director of Women’s Studies and Professor of English at Western Kentucky University; son, Frederic S. Miller, the featured artist for this issue; Loyal Jones, ’54, founding director and Director Emeritus of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College; and Morris A. Grubbs, the editor of the forthcoming Jim Wayne Miller Reader from the University Press of Kentucky and the editor of Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories and Conversations with Wendell Berry.

Jim Wayne Miller was born and raised with five brothers and sisters on a seventy-acre farm in western Buncombe County, North Carolina. He is a 1958 graduate of Berea College and earned a doctorate in German language and literature at Vanderbilt University. An icon in the field of Appalachian Literature, Miller was one of its earliest and most ardent supporters. His devotion to promoting literature is exemplified by his selection in 1986 as Poet Laureate of Kentucky. His poems are among the best known and most loved in the region, and many lines are among the most quoted in Appalachian poetry.

APPALACHIAN HERITAGE strives to keep readers abreast of the visual and literary arts of the Southern Appalachian region by presenting a mix of well-established writers and artists as well as fresh new voices. Founded in 1973, Appalachian Heritage is part of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and has been published since 1985 by Berea College. Summer 2009 issues, as well as back issues, will be available for purchase at the June 12 celebration. For more information, visit the link below or call (859) 985-3699.

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