CFP: Don West as Metaphor for Change in Appalachia (4/1/07; anthology)

full name / name of organization: 
Bonnie Robinson
contact email: 


University Press of North Georgia(Mission Statement below)

North Georgia College & State University

The University Press of North Georgia is devoting its second publication
to topics exploring transformation of communities and community members
in the Southern Appalachia region and is seeking submissions for
publication. We invite you to submit scholarly articles and essays,
poetry, artwork, or interviews for scholarly review. Recognizing the
work of native Georgian, Don West, the editors of this book will pay
tribute to his life work, developing it as a metaphor for transformation
of the Southern Appalachian community.

Suggested topics:
Social Justice/The Good Life for All
Environmental Justice
Economic Justice
The Simplification of Our Ways of Living
Education/The Freeing of the Imagination
Civil Rights
The Global Citizen
The Impact/Cultural Impact of Globalization on the Southern Appalachian
The Artist as Activist

Deadline: April 1, 2007

Please send three double-spaced copies of your manuscript to

Dr. B. J. Robinson, Editor,

The University Press of North Georgia

Dunlap Hall


Dahlonega, GA 30597.

The writer's name should appear only on the cover letter, not on any of
the copies. Please allow three to four months for a decision on

Mission Statement
Motto: "Local is global."
The University Press of North Georgia, a scholarly, peer-reviewed press,
is an extension of our sponsoring university, North Georgia College &
State University. Our primary function is to promote education and
research, with a special emphasis on local and global cultures. Culture
is defined in the broadest sense of the term to include intellectual and
artistic activity as well as shared community. Our partnership with the
university provides a learning environment for students to gain real
life experiences in publishing and marketing.

Our structure comprises two boards, an editorial (mainly students) and a
faculty. The Faculty Board has final approval over manuscript
acquisitions and projects, after the Editorial Board has reached all its
press decisions. This collaborative effort again offers our students
real life experiences in publishing and marketing.

Information on Don West

By James J. Lorence, Gainesville State College (New Georgia
Encyclopedia, 12/16/2004)

A native of north Georgia, Don West achieved success as one of the
foremost southern regional poets of the twentieth century. He was at
different times a labor organizer, political radical, preacher,
progressive educator, and outspoken spokesperson for human equality in
the generation before the civil rights movement. Although he is best
known for his literary works, West was also an effective proponent of
the Social Gospel, embraced by some of the South's most dedicated
religious reformers.

Born in 1906 in Devil's Hollow, near Ellijay in Gilmer County, Donald L.
West grew to young adulthood in the north Georgia mountains. The eldest
son of a farmer, he took pride in the independent spirit that had made
his forebears nonconformists who opposed slavery in the antebellum
years. This heritage of independence expressed itself in West's career,
during which he often found himself at odds with the folkways and
beliefs of the communities in which he lived and worked. Throughout his
life he remained committed to a progressive view of ethnic and racial
harmony, which linked him with his personal family history.

After his family moved to the lowlands as sharecroppers, West enrolled
in 1923 at the Berry School in Rome, a school for impoverished children
from the north Georgia mountains. During his senior year at Berry, he
organized a protest when the racist film Birth of a Nation was shown on
campus. West was expelled for his part in the protest, and he left the
institution without a diploma. After working for a telephone company for
a short time, he enrolled at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in
Tennessee, where he met and married Mabel Constance "Connie" Adams.
Expelled from LMU for leading a protest against campus paternalism, the
popular West was reinstated and graduated in the class of 1929.

After graduation West enrolled at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,
Tennessee, where he entered the Divinity School to pursue a calling to
preach. There he came under the influence of the professors Alva Taylor
and Willard Uphaus, both staunch proponents of the Social Gospel, a
religious perspective that meshed well with West's own beliefs. During
his Vanderbilt years West embraced socialism and began working in the
labor movement. He was involved with the 1929 Gastonia, North Carolina,
textile strike, and in 1932 he was a labor organizer in the bitter
miner's strike at Wilder, Tennessee.

In 1931, the year he received his degree from Vanderbilt, he also
published his first volume of poetry, Crab-Grass, which celebrated the
mountain culture and working people of the South.

As a student West visited the Danish folk schools inspired by N.F.S.
Grundtvig, who advocated a curriculum based on folk tradition and
cultural heritage. Imbued with the folk school philosophy, in 1932 he
collaborated with Myles Horton to establish the Highlander Folk School
in Monteagle, Tennessee. After less than a year at Highlander, West
broke with Horton and returned to Georgia, where he established the
Southern Folk School and Libraries in Kennesaw and immersed himself in
political and labor organizing. By now a member of the Communist Party,
West assumed a leadership role in the defense of the labor organizer
Angelo Herndon, an African American in Atlanta who had been convicted
under the Georgia insurrection law in January 1933. Pursued by antilabor
authorities, West slipped out of Georgia in 1934 to continue his work as
a labor organizer. From 1936 to 1937 he served as organizational
director for the Kentucky Workers Alliance, a militant organization for
the unemployed.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s West served Congregational churches in
Bethel, Ohio, and Meansville, Georgia, where his literary work, often
published in radical journals, became controversial and led to his
resignation. In 1942 he became a teacher and school superintendent in
Lula in Hall County, where he gained a national reputation as a
proponent of cooperative, community-based learning. He received a
Rosenwald Fellowship and left Lula in 1945. After a year of study, West
accepted a position at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. At Oglethorpe
he taught creative writing and continued his own literary work,
publishing what is considered to be his finest work, Clods of Southern
Earth, in 1946. This volume, a strong statement of Appalachian
regionalism that emphasized the experience of working people, found a
wide audience beyond the intellectual community.

Red-baited ruthlessly by the Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill
and others, West left Oglethorpe in 1948 after a controversial defense
of Rosa Lee Ingram, an African American defendant in a high-profile
murder case, and involvement in the presidential campaign of the liberal
Henry Wallace. In 1955, while editing a religious newspaper, The
Southerner, in Dalton, he was again attacked for his labor activism and
political affiliations. Subsequently, in 1957 he was forced to testify
on his political activities before the Senate Internal Security
Subcommittee in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1958 the House Committee on
Un-American Activities called him as a witness at their Atlanta
hearings, but West left without taking the stand.

By 1960 the Wests were teaching in Baltimore, Maryland, where they saved
enough to invest in the establishment of the Appalachian South Folklife
Center at Pipestem, West Virginia. Founded in 1964 and dedicated to the
preservation of mountain culture and its tradition of self-respecting
independence, the new institution attracted college students, activists,
folk artists, and other Appalachian residents. At Pipestem in the 1960s
and 1970s, West became a mentor for nonsectarian leftists and served as
a link between the old and new radicalism. For the remainder of his
life, he continued his writing and teaching, emphasizing the
preservation of Appalachian values and resistance to the corrosive
forces of industrialism. The Folklife Center, together with his poetry,
remains as his living legacy to future generations. West died in
Charleston, West Virginia, on September 29, 1992.

B. J. Robinson, Ph. D.
Professor of English
Department of English
North Georgia College & State University
Dahlonega, GA 30533

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Received on Sat Nov 25 2006 - 20:54:06 EST