Silas House comes to Centre as Humana/Library Speaker
Kentucky author Silas House will give a convocation address and read from several pieces of his work as this year’s Humana/Library Speaker at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 in Newlin Hall.
A reception and book signing will follow the convocation in the lobby of the Norton Center for the Arts. Students will also have a chance to meet and speak with House from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in the Grissom Reading Room of the Grace Doherty Library. House will also give a reading at the Boyle County Public Library from 4 to 5 p.m. later that day.
“We invited Silas House because it seemed appropriate to include in our series a Kentucky artist who, like Wendell Berry, has transcended any notions of being a regional writer and has become an important American writer,” says Library Director Stan Campbell.
House is the author of five novels, including “Clay’s Quilt,” “A Parchment of Leaves” and, most recently, “Same Sun Here,” co-authored with Neela Vaswani; three plays; and “Something’s Rising,” a work of non-fiction about social protest of mountaintop removal co-authored with Jason Howard. House was also chosen to edit “Chinaberry,” the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James Still. His work can be read in such publications as The New York Times and the Oxford American, among others, as well as numerous anthologies.
The winner of numerous awards, House’s achievements include twice winning Kentucky Novel of the Year, being named a recipient of the Lee Smith Award and receiving the Hobson Medal for Literature. House won the Helen Lewis Community Service Award in 2008 from the Appalachian Studies Association for his work in environmental activism. Emory and Henry College hosted the Silas House Literary Seminar in 2009.
House acts as director of Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and is a member of the faculty for Spalding University’s MFA program in creative writing.
Dean Stephanie Fabritius and Professor Cindy Isenhour will lead a discussion of “Something’s Rising” and its importance to Centre at 4 p.m. in the Grissom Reading Room on Friday, Nov. 2.
“‘Something’s Rising’ is an extremely powerful book that is important for the Centre community in many ways,” says Isenhour. “This book of oral histories illustrates the courage and bravery of native Appalachians who are fighting back against mountaintop removal mining practices. These folks tell stories that communicate their love for the mountains, their neighbors and their culture. Collectively, they express frustration that the powerful coal companies seem unwilling to hear their concerns about the destruction of their mountains and all the life within, about water pollution, increased risk of floods, the potential for slurry spills, rising asthma rates and the prevalence of coal dust in their towns.
“Many of the individuals included in the book have deep cultural roots associated with the coal industry, many of them are the sons and daughters of coal miners and remain supportive of miners and the coal industry. What they don’t support is MTR and the practice of blowing up mountains to access the coal underneath,” Isenhour continues. “As many of them note, this practice has eliminated jobs, ruined the land that they love and endangered the potential for future economic development based on tourism or agriculture.”
Members of the Centre community are looking forward to having House on campus.
“Lee Smith describes House as a ‘writer of immense gifts.’ Another critic called him a ‘writer of startling abilities.’ I could go on, but the praise lavished on his books is not misplaced. House is an activist and is an important voice for the disenfranchised in Kentucky and all of Appalachia,” Campbell says. “He is an important figure in Kentucky culture and our students should be interested in his work.”