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Book Feature: A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia

Book Feature: A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia

Rose McLarney, Laura-Gray Street and L. L. Gaddy, Editors

Southern Appalachia, running from Virginia down to northeastern Alabama, offers a beauty that has inspired naturalists, writers and artists for generations. Poet Rose McLarney was introduced to The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide years ago, and it was suggested that she edit a similar literary and natural history anthology for Southern Appalachia. “I grew up in Western North Carolina and miss it, always,” McLarney says. She was standing on the front porch of Robert Frost’s home in New Hampshire (as Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place) when she got confirmation from Laura-Gray Street and Dr. L. L. Gaddy that they would collaborate with her on A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia.

The editors first compiled a list of 60 regional species. “This was no easy task in an environment that is so biodiverse, but we tried to select a balance of rare or unusual species and those most significant to or associated with Southern Appalachia,” McLarney says. The editors selected poets for the project with a range of backgrounds and a diversity of writing styles; poets then selected species for their poems.

“While other field guides may provide better information for identification purposes,” McLarney says, “the literary field guide is designed to help readers engage with our place and its inhabitants in a broader, poetic sense.”

A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia, October, 2019, natural history, hardcover, $24.95, edited by Rose McLarney, Laura-Gray Street and L. L. Gaddy, and published by University of Georgia Press, Athens, Ga.

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