Featured Poet: Ted Olson

WILSON, N.C. – Barton is pleased to announce the 16th annual Barton College Creative Writing Symposium, focusing on Scottish Literature and Culture, scheduled for Monday, April 9. Ted Olson will be the featured poet for the symposium. Scheduled close to “National Tartan Day” on April 6, which celebrates the historical and cultural links between Scotland and North America, this symposium promises to provide a creative lens through which the campus and surrounding communities will be able to more fully appreciate this unique relationship. All sessions will be held in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center at no charge, and the public is invited to attend any or all of these sessions.

The program will include two afternoon hour sessions and an evening session. Session I, titled “Darkness and Revelation: Ted Olson’s Poetry,” will begin at 2 p.m. and Session II, titled “Scotland the Brave: A Nation’s Legacy in Literature and Folklore,” will begin at 3:30 p.m.

At 7 p.m., the day will conclude with an Evening Session titled “When First Unto This Country: The Flow of Scottish and Scots-Irish Culture to the American South in Song and Story.”

“Ted is quite the Renaissance man – poet, literary critic, editor, folklorist, musicologist, musician – and I think the ‘Scottish focus’ will likely appeal to many community people in this area,” shared Dr. James A. Clark, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages and Elizabeth H. Jordan Chair of Southern Literature. “His evening program will focus on Scottish and Scots-Irish connections to the American South. I’ve known Ted for many years, and have heard him read his poetry, play music, and lecture in several venues. He’s a lively, fascinating, multi-faceted presenter who knows how to engage an audience.”

Olson is Professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University; he also teaches literature and writing courses for ETSU’s Department of English and music history courses for ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music program. Olson has served as director of ETSU’s Appalachian, Scottish, and Irish Studies program and as interim director of the school’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Services. In 2008, he served as Fulbright Senior Scholar in American Studies at the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. In 2010, he received ETSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Research.

Olson is the author of “Blue Ridge Folklife,” “Breathing in Darkness: Poems,” and “Impossible Wind: The Formative Poetry of Robinson Jeffers.”  He has edited a poetry collection by James Still, “From the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected Poems”; “Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs and Selected Short Fiction”; Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”; “James Still in Interviews, Oral Histories and Memoirs”; “The Hills Remember: The Collected Short Stories of James Still”; and he is the editor of “CrossRoads: A Southern Culture Annual.”  He has co-edited “The Bristol Sessions: Writings About the Big Bang of Country Music” (with Charles K. Wolfe), “James Still: Critical Essays on the Dean of Appalachian Literature” (with Kathy H. Olson), and “A Tennessee Folklore Sampler: Readings from the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin,” 1934-2009 (with Anthony Cavender). He is the music section editor and associate editor for “The Encyclopedia of Appalachia” and a contributing author to “Hiking Trails of the Smokies.”

Olson has served as a scholarly consultant for two documentary films produced by BBC-Scotland TV. He has also produced, compiled, and annotated two documentary recordings: a CD containing previously unreleased recordings of traditional Appalachian music, for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and a CD box set collecting the legendary recording sessions known as the 1927 and 1928 Bristol Sessions, for Bear Family Records. The Bristol Sessions box set has been nominated for two 2012 Grammy Awards. He has written liner notes for various CDs of American vernacular music released by such record companies as Rounder Records, Lonesome Records, and the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center. For more than 25 years, Olson has performed Appalachian, British, and Irish folk songs and ballads at a wide variety of educational and entertainment venues.

Students from Dr. Clark’s “Scottish Literature” class will share their Scottish Focus presentations in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center on Tuesday and Thursday, April 10 and 12, at 9:30 a.m. -10:45. The community is also invited to attend these sessions.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and Modern Languages, and The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center. For additional information about the Creative Writing Symposium, contact Dr. James A. Clark, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages and the Elizabeth H. Jordan Chair of Southern Literature, at 252-399-6450 or jclark@barton.edu.

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Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations at Barton College, at 252-399-6529 or email kdaughety@barton.edu.