Nantahala Issue 1:2 Intro


      Several years ago, I was invited to give a reading in Holland, Michigan, a town on the shores of that inland sea the locals call Lake Michigan.  It was the biggest lake I had ever seen, with sandy beaches and a stiff breeze just like at Myrtle.  It was certainly a first for me.
     When I arrived at the venue where I was to join novelist Lee Smith for an evening of prose and poetry, I was presented with another first.  We were reading at a downtown theater and on the marquee it said in big black letters: "Appalachian Writers Lee Smith and Michael Chitwood."
      I'd never had my name on a marquee like that before and to my knowledge I'd never been called an Appalachian writer before either.
     I have to admit that my first thought was, "Appalachian writer, what's that."  It was, apparently, a curiosity to other folks as well because about 500 people showed up that night to find out.
     Actually, I'll bet that there wasn't a single person in the audience that night who came to find out what an Appalachian writer was.  They came because they had read the novels and stories of Lee Smith (I'll wager they had never heard of me) and were moved by the beauty of her writing, her compelling narratives and the insights into humanity her prose provides.
     That's why we read any writer and it was the yardstick I used in selecting the poetry, fiction and non-fiction for this issue of The Nantahala Review.  That such good writing happens to be written by writers who live in or who have lived in an area known as Appalachia is no surprise to me.  And, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone else, but I have a suspicion that it might.  That's why I'm glad that some folks like Rob Merritt, Cy Dillion, Mark Roberts, Joseph Champagne and others have worked hard to make The Nantahala Review a reality.  It was a pleasure for me to help out a bit.
     I hope you'll enjoy the issue.
      —Michael Chitwood