A Manifesto

This is basi­cal­ly iden­ti­cal to the very first post on this blog, but I want­ed to make it more read­i­ly avail­able to read­ers.

The great dirty or not so-dirty secret of my past, is that I grew up in the north­ern­most por­tion of the Appalachi­an Region­al Com­mis­sion des­ig­nat­ed 'Appalachi­an' area, north-cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia. The stereo­type, or more prop­er­ly, the arche­type, of the Appalachi­an region cen­ters around the Kentucky/West Vir­ginia por­tions of the ARC's des­ig­nat­ed area, but the eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties and many of the same issues and sim­i­lar­i­ties con­tin­ued into that Bradford/Tioga coun­ty area in Penn­syl­va­nia, where I spent the first 24 years of my life. I played in cricks where all the rocks shone orange with runoff, where no fish lived, though the coal indus­try was dead by the time I was old enough to know what it had been and how it had caused the dam­age, and the lum­ber indus­try gone too, fifty or sev­en­ty-five years before. What was left to me and my friends was sim­ply grow­ing up and find­ing a way out, via the armed forces, via col­lege, via just shit­ting and get­ting, if you could, the 'brain-drain' typ­i­cal of rur­al Appalachia. You stay and become part of the scenery, or you nev­er go back. Case in point, my father's fam­i­ly has lived, with three or four excep­tions, in the same three-coun­ty area for 230 years.

We all know the sto­ries, or we can look them up if we get the urge. Har­ry Caudill's Night Comes to the Cum­ber­lands, rev­enuers, snake­han­dlers, the Hat­fields and McCoys, feud­ing in gen­er­al, moon­shine, blue­grass, gospel, hard men, loose women, church women, coon dogs , coon huntin' and the folks who love them, or the NASCAR set, NRA set, how­ev­er you choose to name them. I didn't see all of this, of course, being both North­ern (pro­nounced Appalachia with a long sec­ond 'a' until I found out bet­ter, much lat­er per­haps than I should have). and more well off than many in the parts of Appalachia below the Mason-Dixon. But what I found, in this lit­er­a­ture of rur­al Appalachia and the rur­al south (and oth­er places to be sure) was a sense that I had found some­thing to mine, some­thing that could be mine alone, some­thing that felt exact­ly right to write about. And that's what I want this blogazine to be about.

I want to pub­lish sto­ries, poems, and essays about the rur­al life I lived for 24 years and still think of as my pri­ma­ry world and moti­va­tion. I still, near­ly twen­ty years lat­er, feel out of place in my cho­sen milieu, as a work­ing-class kid who now teach­es in pri­vate col­leges and edits and writes. I don't have to explain that to any­body who's made the move them­selves, but trust me, it's a bitch, and you nev­er recov­er from it and the sub­se­quent ques­tion­ing of self and career that inevitably accom­pa­nies the process.

What I like I'll pub­lish here as I get it. It'll even–gasp–be edit­ed, pos­si­bly. You retain all rights to your work if pub­lished, of course, and as pay­ment I will send you a book of my choos­ing from my per­son­al library. It may be a lit­tle worn from read­ing, but I promise it won't be crap. All I ask in return–and I know it's a lot to ask for not much–is that you let me keep your story/poem/essay/interview on the blog in per­pe­tu­ity. You can sell the thing to some­one else the same day you sell it to me, I don't give a shit. What I want is to find good stuff and give it expo­sure. So pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished pieces, espe­cial­ly those appear­ing in print-only jour­nals first, are fine by me.

I want to say some­thing else, too. I don't plan on being super-polite here, or apolo­getic for my views. What I say here is just me, bs'ing with you all, dis­cussing work, doing inter­views, etc. and I don't expect much crosstalk between here and my offi­cial gov­ern­men­tal­ly approved and sanc­tioned gig at the Train. OK?

If you'd like me to link to you and you have rel­e­vant con­tent, hit me up via email, and I'll begin a list. I have inter­views planned, art, poems, all kinds of neat and nasty stuff. As a final treat, I'll leave you with the work of the band that inspired this blogazine's title.

If your work has affini­ties with any of the writ­ers I've list­ed in my pro­file, by all means, give me a shot.