Nantahala publishes deeply felt, purposefully structured writing and photography that wells up from those who live, work, or are influenced by the Southern Appalachian landscape.

Editorial Statement: Transcending Appalachian Stereotypes

This first issue of The Nantahala Review is, we hope, a kernel of what is to come.  We have a quality beginning from which to grow, work by writers and photographers from the southern highlands that indicates how we can widen our understanding of what “Appalachian” means.  Alyson Hagy and Michael Chitwood have selected prose and poetry for this inaugural issue and Joe Champagne photography that work from local materials without regionalized preconceptions.


We know there are a lot of artists out there living in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky; some may be skeptical of this online format.  We hope that they will be encouraged to offer a submission when they see how the crisp energy of this publication encourages a wide and varied viewing audience, creating a community amidst these geographically dispersed mountain colleges.  We especially encourage students to submit to the poetry contest in the next issue to be judged by poet Michael Chitwood.


We are proud to include in this first issue remarks made by Dr. Carol Boggess (Mars Hill College) at the funeral of James Still, a writer who lived 95 years, I believe,  because he just kept finding more to say about “this somewhat mythical region with no known borders.”  Mr. Still was associated with the Appalachian College Association nearly since its inception as well as with a number of other fellowship programs with which Alice Brown was involved at the University of Kentucky.  We take our motto from him.  He said, “Don’t expect to find stereotyped characters in my fiction.”  We say “Transcend Appalachian stereotypes.”


The man who could have taken his literary career anywhere to blossom but who chose to let it flower in eastern Kentucky shall continue to guide this publication: “I don’t know where Appalachia begins, or where it ends. . . .  Human nature operates here pretty much as elsewhere.”  Yet there is a distinctiveness that cannot be exhausted, as he wrote in “Heritage”:


Being of these hills, being one with the fox

Stealing into shadows, one with the new-born foal,

The lumbering ox drawing green beech logs to mill,

One with the destined feet of man climbing and descending,

And one with death rising to bloom again, I cannot go.

Being of these hills I cannot pass beyond.



Rob Merritt