And Now, For Something Completely Different!

img_0007.jpg Greetings Feministers!

I’m Rosanne Griffeth of the Smokey Mountain Breakdown and I will be using my guest blogging appearance to blog about Appalachian women.

I’m a writer and a teller of tales. It’s what I do best. My plan is to post essays and stories between Feministe and my blog through the week, each dealing with an aspect of these amazingly strong women’s lives. While my stories are largely fiction, they are derived from oral traditions passed on to me from the women of Grassy Fork, Tennessee. So, if there is an essay on Feministe…there will be a story on the SMB that relates to the essay…or if there is a ficlet here, I’ll be running my mouth over there.

Perhaps my two favorite fictional representations of Appalachian women are Fairlight Spencer in Christy by Catherine Marshall and Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Both of these women ring 100% true to me, perhaps because I live 5 miles from the factual “Cutter’s Gap” and 20 miles from the factual Cold Mountain. My essays and stories will be drawn from my observations from this still remote area of Appalachia.

About me… I have a BA and an MFA in Theater. My emphasis was on costume design with a research interest in dramatic criticism, specifically feminist theater and women playwrights and women’s roles of the English Restoration period. I spent my early career working in “the vanities” of the film industry as a make-up artist and wig master throughout the US and the UK. I then moved on to costume design and from there to broadcast media at CNN.

My writing is heavily influenced by Marjorie Rawlings and Flannery O’Connor. I avoid Faulkner like the plague. I am, indeed, a Southern writer of the Dead Mule school in the sub-genre of Southern Gothic. I’m extremely interested in the intersection of beauty and the grotesque. I’m very interested in the psychology of faith.  I’m also a contributor for Hillbilly Savants, Appalachian Writers and Dew on the Kudzu.  If you are looking for political correctness, you will be sadly disappointed in me.

KidzillaI now live on a mountaintop with my dogs and my goatherd. I consort with and write about Jesus’ Name Serpent Handlers, moonshiners, cock fighters, tent revival preachers, and sweet little old women who are waiting to die.

Welcome to my world and I hope you enjoy my visit on Feministe.

Tomorrow I will talk about the history of women in Appalachia and have a retelling of local story from the post-Civil War era.

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21 comments for “And Now, For Something Completely Different!

  1. August 27, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Fairlight Spencer. Her story was so compelling to me, as a young girl, it led to a years-long romanticized obsession with all things Appalachian.

    Welcome, Rosanne :)

  2. Kat
    August 27, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Well, you have me hooked. I am definitely coming back tomorrow. Looking forward to your post. Welcome :)

  3. August 27, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Ditto what Kat said!

  4. MegRhi
    August 27, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Always on the look out for news or blogs having anything to do with Appalachian women, being from eastern Kentucky myself!

  5. August 27, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Well, I’ll say welcome, but this just jumped out at me:

    If you are looking for political correctness, you will be sadly disappointed in me.

    Because, you know, I’m getting really sick of people saying this and think they are being edgy, raw, or wev. Being politically correct involves merely the act of respecting the indentities and cultures around us, and particularly those that aren’t hegemonic.

    Whenever someone says “I’m not politically correct” it’s just a warning they are going to be an offensive arsehole under some false aura of being ‘real’ or ‘authentic’. They are pretending they are somehow a maverick, that they are challenging the status quo, the hegemony, when really all they are doing is shoring it up.

    While I am sure this wasn’t your intent, I honestly think the world could do with more people saying “Hey, yeah, I’m going to actually BE politically correct, because THAT’S the true way to be non-hegemonic and not follow the herd”.

    So, welcome, I’ll be interested to read your material.

  6. snappy mackerel
    August 27, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    What Sarah in Chicago said.

    P.S. I was named for a character in a Catherine Marshall book and the fact that I’m seeing her mentioned on this blog has just blown my mind.

  7. bbmomma
    August 27, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    You rock!! I also loved the characters in Christy and in Cold Mountain. Have you ever read the magazine Oxford American? It is published in Arkansas and john Grisham is one of the principle backers. If not, I will send you onf of my copies. Written by southerners and about the south.

  8. Em
    August 27, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Seldom heard voices. I’ll be reading with interest.

  9. August 27, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Welcome Rosie!!! It will be great reading you here!

    I love Flannery O’Connor. I wondered, are you familiar with The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow?

  10. Marksman2000
    August 27, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Any fiction published?

  11. ol'jb
    August 27, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    I recommend the fiction of Denise Giardina and the music of Hazel Dickens, both from West Virginia.

    I’m very interested in reading what you have to post, and I hope that your posts here will spark some discussion of Appalachian issues (and also that you might recommend some additional Appalachian bloggers).

  12. Gayle
    August 27, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    What a fascinating introduction! I’m looking forward to your posts!

  13. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    August 27, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Welcome from a lurker/West Virginian. I’m looking forward to your posts.

    Have you read Dorothy Allison? She’s just fucking amazing.

  14. August 27, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Hey Rosie! How cool of Jill et al. to invite you. How ’bout Cat Fur Jelly?

  15. lisa
    August 27, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    so psyched.

  16. Rosanne
    August 27, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks so much for the welcome, everyone!

    Glad to see so many people are familiar with Catherine Marshall. I’m acquainted with most of the relatives of the people those characters were based on. I think the representation of the poverty in the book was a bit extreme…at least that’s what folks who should know tell me. I’ve yet to figure out what the eye condition she was talking about was…but typhus was a big problem here for a long time.

    I think what I love so much about Fairlight is that she so accurately combined the sweetness, sadness and the fascination with death that I see so often in the Appalachian women. It’s not really a maudlin thing though it sound as though it might be.

    Sarah…you’re right. I’m an offensive arsehole. Busted. But I also have exquisite manners.

    bbmomma…I haven’t read read Oxford American…I don’t have much access to literary journals up here in the boonies. Some of my Atlanta friends used to hang with the Oxford crowd though. They build big bonfires and discuss literature while drinking “pickle-tinis”.

    Hey Daisy! I don’t think I’m familiar with that story, but I’ll try to find it. Yes…I went to school in Savannah where Flannery went. I also have lupus. And live in the middle of nowhere. I raised poultry for a while but the foxes kept eating them.

    Nothing published outside of the internet tubes, marksman. But then, I guess it would help if I tried to submit something.

    Hey Johnie! Yes, Cat Fur Jelly is a good one. But that and Ghosts of the Living got picked up by The Dew. I’m trying to come up with some new stuff for this stint. Though I have picked up some additional Lizie and Martha material since and there may be another story with my two favorite twin sisters.

  17. August 28, 2007 at 4:16 am

    I’m hooked. :-)

  18. August 28, 2007 at 8:07 am

    I’m an Appalachian woman too (born and raised in West Virginia). Have you ever read anything by Denise Giardina? She was raised in one of the same coal camps as my grandmother and I had her as a professor in college. Her “Storming Heaven” and its sequel “The Unquiet Earth,” are two of my favorite books, telling a fictionalized history of the mining wars.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading what you have to contribute.

    (And I agree with Sara in Chicago, btw.)

  19. Rosanne
    August 28, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    ol’jb: I have a section of my blogroll called “Sloe-eyed Nation”…those are all bloggers with Appalachian ties. Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History blog is wonderful and very under-rated. I’ll be guesting for him after this on the history of cock fighting in the Appalachians. Hillbilly Savants is a good one. Also, Anne Johnson of The Gods are Bored…a pagan blog…is very involved in Appalachian conservation issues and very tied to her Appalachian roots. My readership is very eclectic politically so you’ll probably have to just look through them until you find a good fit.

    Yes, Dorothy Allison blows me away every time I read her. I heard her speak and read some of her work in the early 90’s….she’s wonderful.

  20. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    August 28, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I heard Dorothy Allison speak a few years ago – fire and brimstone and humor and truth, just like her writing.

    ooo, Ms. Güerita – I too love Denise Giardina’s WV novels – I was so proud to vote for her when she ran for governor. A woman was quoted in the Charleston Gazette at the time as saying that anyone who could write like that about West Virginia, she’d vote for. That’s how I felt too.

    I was required to take WV history in 8th grade, and I remember being so angry that they just skimmed over the REAL history that West Virginians should be proud of and that still impacts us today – the fight for mine unionization, the working history of WV.

  21. ol'jb
    August 29, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll definitely check those out.

    Lizzie, Denise Giardina actually registered me to vote when I was in high school (I also voted for her).

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