Voices Echoing Down The Hollow: Appalachian Women Artists Speak Out

Updated Thu, Nov 7, 2013 8:22 am

The Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) and the Ohio University Multicultural Center are inviting the public to a special one-time only performance, "Women Speak, Encore and More," an evening of original music, poetry and story featuring the work of 22 spoken word artists from Athens, Meigs, Hocking, Perry and Washington counties.

The work is a compilation of juried work presented throughout the past five years, along with new work that encompasses thoughts and observations on the joys and hardships of living in Appalachia and a world that is radically changing and growing.

When asked what serves as inspiration for her work, poet Janette Ammon says, "Living in our Appalachian community has given me opportunities to experience a supportive and strong base, allowing my creativity to thrive," said poet Janette Ammon, when asked what serves as inspiration for her work.

Musician/songwriter Liz Pahl credits the local Athens music scene with making her a better performer.

"Living in Southeastern Ohio only emphasizes the basic need of the true musician...the only reason we play music is because we must."

The project has never taken on an event of this magnitude, according to Kari Gunter-Seymour, founder/curator of the WOAP. “We are excited to celebrate this milestone in such a way. Each artist brings her own personal life experiences to this project. These are spoken word pieces about our region, our neighbors, our families and friends. From births to deaths, delights to sorrows, love for the land and concern for our communities, topics vary and flow and curve back into themselves.”

Gunter-Seymour points out that people, even here in our own region, often have an image of an Appalachian woman, and they look down on her. The WOAP is committed to providing opportunity for women of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to come together, to embrace the stereotype, to show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her. 

She said that, throughout the past five years, several of the women participating in the “Women Speak” project have become published artists in nationally recognized publications.

Sharing the spotlight is the work of regional women from the Sisters in Recovery Collective entitled “The Story of Us,” a spoken-word project designed to assist with the healing process for victims of domestic violence and rape.

"Living in Appalachia is misunderstood and unappreciated by many," said Evelyn Nagy, director of the rural women’s recovery program. "For us, the hills and valleys that surround us are a gift, they aid us as we hurt, heal and grow. As women in this place known as Appalachia, we share with you a piece of our lives from a place of love and hope. It is our trust that you hear us not with judgment in your mind but with compassion in your heart."

"Spoken art is by its very nature a transient art," added Gunter-Seymour. "Seconds after the artist’s thoughts are spoken, they are just that quickly gone. Yet in that powerful moment we may hear something that tickles across our senses, like it belongs to us – translating the spoken into the visual within our minds, making it all the more precious and personal."

Although some of the art is transient, many of the artists are here to stay.

"I am newly arrived to Athens, but I came here to die. By that I mean, I came to stay," said storyteller Kim Jordan.

The performance will be presented Thursday, Nov, 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m in the Baker Center lounge. A reception will follow.

For more information, visit www.womenofappalachia.com.

Photo Credit: 
William McFadden
Liz Pahl
Photo Credit: 
Wendy McVicker