Kentucky Writer’s Day, 2013


Kentucy Writer’s Day is held each year at Penn’s Store in Gravel Switch, Kentucky. A visit to Gravel Switch is a visit back in time, but there is something for everyone.


Little children play,


puppies snooze under the porch, lazy in the sun.

poets [C.A. Shelly pictured here] read original work,

fellow writers lend support and attentive ears [pictured Yolantha HarrisonPace and Ed McClanahan]

Ruth Ann Johnson Fogle is an amazing story-teller with a powerful voice and original writer‘s voice.

 Inside the store you’ll find unique country gifts, souvenirs for back home.

 Photos of famous writers and musicians who have graced this country store line a shelf near the ceiling.

 Jeanne Penn Lane and her daughter, Dawn, carry on a legacy that has been part of her family since the 1800s.

 Take home a T-shirt.

Eulalie C. (‘Lalie) Dick‘s stories brought tears to eyes. They were that touching, that real.

 The only thing more breath-taking than the scenery is Dawn
Lane Osborn
‘s voice.

 Teenage girls relax in the shade.

 The outhouse, for use and decorative, too!

 The porch welcomes all.

Eric “Rick” Lee honors veterans.  Richard Moore’s music is highly entertaining.



Yours truly with the youngest participant at KWD.

 Lunch time on the porch. Up here, in these hills, we celebrate writing and art and music. It’s still going on. Check out the schedule for tomorrow.


When Redbuds Bloom


Sara Elizabeth Burkey’s voice rises and falls like the hills that spawned her, “I’ll be home when redbuds bloom,” and I think about how this is a coming home to many of us writers, a coming home to Gravel Switch, Kentucky, to the third weekend in April when writers, artists and performers come from every direction the wind blows to spread out on the lawn in front of Jeanne Penn Lane’s family store, the oldest running country store in America. They spread blankets and scatter about in lawn chairs and they do it for one reason: love of the written word. Chet Atkins, the great guitarist once played here. Famous feet have tread the grounds, used the privy and petted the generations of golden retrievers that lie upon the country porch. The noses of famous poets and beginners alike have sniffed the gorgeous wild flowers that grow unhindered near the store. All are equal at Penn’s Store. That is just the spirit of the place, of the gathering.

Many notables have gathered around the old wood stove in Penn’s Store to tell stories and share poetry, to pick guitar, banjo and fiddle, to strum the dulcimer and sing what their hearts have written. They come from New York and Pennsylvania. They come from North Carolina and Georgia, from Japan and Indianna. They come from Alabama and Tennessee, Viriginia and West Virginia. They come from wherever there are people who long to experience a roots revival of the written word, from wherever people long to hear great music, great poetry, great novels.

And they come “when redbuds bloom” and today, I’m going. It’s a little chilly so I’m donning jeans,boots and a sweater. I’m packing my lawn chair and my books and forgetting the world. I’m going to a meadow by a stream at the foot of an Appalachian hill where like-minded spirits wander about in Bohemian spirit and everybody is free to be who they are. Kentucky Writers Day is a beautiful experience and any writer who has not discovered it yet, I’m sorry for you, but it’s not too late to drop everything and come.


Knowing Self


I made the mistake

 asking someone else

 who I am.

Doesn’t matter

who he says.

Doesn’t matter

what she thinks.

I return now,

to myself,

my own true knowing

of who I am.

I am earth,

rich and dark.

I am sky

wide and blue

and water,

clear and running,

sometimes still

and dark deep.

I am air

hot sultry in summer

cold crisp in winter.

I am fire

a rising phoenix

a swirling flame.

I am passion

and fury ablaze.

I am knowledge

handed down

four centuries

and hewn from

Appalachian wood.

I am magic

of long gone years

and herbs gathered

for sick curing.

I am a song, falling

and rising like these hills.

I am a people of the folk

a tale to be told

a word-weaver

as simple as cane

bottom chairs

complex as daisies.