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Guest Speakers 2021

Karen Salyer McElmurrayKaren Salyer McElmurray
Keynote Speaker

Karen Salyer McElmurray’s Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey was an AWP Award Winner. Her novels are The Motel of the Stars and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Ward for Appalachian writing. Her essays are recipient of the Annie Dillard Award for the Essay and the Orison Anthology Award and have several times been Notable in Best American Essays. She has co-edited, with poet Adrian Blevins, an essay collection called Walk till the Dogs Get Mean. Wanting Radiance, her newest novel, was released in April 2020 from University Press of Kentucky. An essay collection called Voice Lessons is currently under contract with Iris Press.

Chrissie Anderson PetersChrissie Anderson Peters
Fiction Workshop Leader

Chrissie Anderson Peters is a Southwest Virginia native and the author of three books: Dog Days and Dragonflies, Running From Crazy, and Blue Ridge Christmas. Her writing can also be found in Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, The Mildred Haun Review, Still: The Journal, and Clinch Mountain Review, among other publications. Chrissie is currently at work on her fourth book, which is tentatively titled Chasing After Rainbows. Visit her website at https://capwrites.com/.

Matthew WimberleyMatthew Wimberley
Poetry Workshop Leader

Matthew Wimberley grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He is the author of two collections of poetry, All the Great Territories (SIU, 2020), winner of the 2018 Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book award, and Daniel Boone's Window (LSU, 2020) selected by Dave Smith for the Southern Messenger Poetry series. Winner of the 2015 William Matthews Prize from the Asheville Poetry Review, his work was selected by Mary Szybist for the 2016 Best New Poets Anthology and his writing has appeared most recently in the Poem-a-Day series from the Academy of American Poets. Wimberley received his MFA from NYU where he worked with children at St. Mary's Hospital as a Starworks Fellow. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC.

Rosemary RoystonRosemary Royston
Nonfiction Workshop Leader

Rosemary Royston, author of Splitting the Soil (Finishing Line Press, 2014), resides in the northeast Georgia mountains with her family. Her poetry and flash fiction have been published in journals such as Split Rock Review, Southern Poetry Review, Appalachian Heritage, Poetry South, KUDZU, NANO Fiction, and *82 Review. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Young Harris College. Visit her website at https://theluxuryoftrees.wordpress.com/.

Osborne/Krause (Guy Larry Osborne and Diane Krause)Osborne/Krause (Guy Larry Osborne and Diane Krause)
Songwriting Workshop Leaders

Guy Larry Osborne and Diane Krause are singer-songwriters who perform “Americana with a mindfulness twist” with acoustic guitars, harmonium, and vocal harmonies. Born in Appalachian counties of South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively, a sense of place, community, and the natural world inform their compositions. Since forming Osborne/Krause in 2017, the duo has shared their music at universities, local festivals, faith and environmental group programs and events, coffee houses, and other venues. Both Diane and Guy played with other musical projects long before starting to write and perform together. Diane studied music composition in college and has performed in coffee houses around Charlotte, Chicago, and Boulder, CO, where she also played in Balinese, Japanese, and Indian ensembles and worked as a music engraver. Guy played with rock and folk bands in high school and thereafter, and currently also performs with the folk-rock group, The Emancipators, named after the 19th-century abolitionist newspaper published in East Tennessee, which he founded in 2008. In their other lives, Guy teaches psychology and social entrepreneurship at Carson-Newman University; Diane works in public health research and communications in Oak Ridge. They are planning to share some of their own songs and some songs of others to illustrate the craft of songwriting. Open to beginner and more advanced songwriters and others who might be interested in how music is created.

Danielle ByingtonDanielle Byington
Writers Workshop Leader

Danielle Byington is an educator, author, and artist from East Tennessee. Her poetry has been published by outlets such as Cold Mountain Review, Still: The Journal, and Dancing Girl Press published her chapbook, The Absurdity of Origins, in 2019. Byington's visual art was included in Las Laguna Gallery’s virtual exhibit, Political Discord as well as Women Speak, Volume 6 (juried by Bianca Spriggs), and was purchased for the Reece Museum's permanent collection in their pandemic initiative (juried by the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts). After completing her English-MA at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in spring 2017, Byington has taught composition and literature at various colleges, having been voted by students in 2018 as one of the “Most Inspirational” faculty/staff members at ETSU. Her ardor for the intersection of language and visual arts manifested in 2020, as she created the educational business Sight into Insight, which explores the relationship of word and image to enhance emotional understanding.

Michael SobiechMichael Sobiech
Scholarly Presenter

Michael Sobiech is an associate professor of English at Carson-Newman University, where he directs the first-year writing program and the professional writing minor. He is researching allegedly true ghost stories in historic East Tennessee newspapers.

Micah McCrotty
Scholarly Presenter

Micah McCrotty received his MA from ETSU with an emphasis on Appalachian Poetry. He serves as an adjunct professor at Johnson University in Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee and lives in Knoxville with his wife Katherine.

Performers

Marci Salyer NimickMarci Salyer Nimick
Performer in Storytelling

“Give me a stage, and I will entertain you,” has been Marci Salyer Nimick’s credo ever since she was old enough to know what that means. Couple that with her belief that all the world is indeed a stage, and you will understand why her friends and fans have dubbed her Marci the Entertainer. When you see a Marci the Entertainer show, you never know what you will get—stories, music, poetry, dancing. The only thing you can predict is unpredictability. Marci’s lively performances take her audiences on journeys from the soul-searchingly profound to the toe-tappingly upbeat to the humorously irreverent. Marci wears her Appalachian roots, her 1980’s rocker fashion, her quick wit and her sentimental spirit as badges of honor. She knows exactly who she is and exactly how she got that way.

Marci was born to the bluegrass music stage. She grew up on the road with her father, South Salyer, who is a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. She had her first paying gig more than 30 years ago at age 13. In the years since, Marci has been simultaneously living out all her performance dreams—from the college classroom to the keynote speaker podium to the Opry spotlight to the International Storytelling Center stage.

Marci’s love of words and their power to affect audiences led her to a life writing and performing. A prolific bluegrass songwriter, Marci also writes blues, country, swing, jazz, and alternative rock. However, her songs and her performances are always under the influence of grass—bluegrass, that is. Bluegrass Unlimited, the premier bluegrass music magazine, hails Marci as a creative singer and songwriter. “Marci’s got the charm and delivery that audiences want,” says Mike Dunbar, Nashville promoter, host, producer, and songwriter. “Her music is bluegrass that’s bluesy and sassy, and her lyrics are entertaining and thoughtful.”

Marci always was a storyteller; she just didn’t know that storytelling was a “thing”. After years of calling herself a singer-songwriter, a musician, a professor and a professional speaker who used stories to enhance her music and to engage students and conventioneers, Marci began calling herself a storyteller who uses everything she has to touch people. Marci tells stories with her whole body, her whole soul and her whole heart. In fact, a line from one of her songs says, “I tear my heart out every night and leave it on the stage.”

Marci’s bubbly, upbeat, optimistic and always entertaining personality makes her a standout on any stage. You could call Marci Salyer Nimick a singer, a songwriter, a musician, a storyteller, a speaker, a buck dancer, a humorist, an actor, or you can simply call her Marci the Entertainer.

Ten Penny DriveTen Penny Drive
Performer in Music

Like the nail in their namesake, Ten Penny Drive is building something. As expected of any contemporary bluegrass group, the drive is a must, but this isn’t sledgehammer bluegrass. With every song, this group aims at creating something solid yet fine—with a sound instrumental foundation and a unique, creative polish in their vocal arrangements, songwriting, and covers selection. The band consists of a group of Walters State Community College alumni and their former professor (guitarist and vocalist), Chip McLain, who led these particular players through various lineups of the college’s student bluegrass ensemble, the High Lonesome Senate, as they performed throughout the state and region. Fans of that program will remember fiddler and vocalist Laree McMurray of Church Hill, mandolinist and vocalist Ryan Henard of Rogersville, banjo and Dobro player Riley Denton of Jefferson City, and bassist Corey Kapnick of Morristown. McLain comments on this special group of young people and their desire to continue music beyond graduation: “When COVID hit and the Senate’s 2020 lineup had to cancel shows and quarantine, it was clear that these pickers weren’t finished. We talked then about continuing as a group, and we all agreed that we wanted to build something new from that past experience. Considering both the talent and musical kinships that have developed over the last few years, I believe I’m just as excited to continue as the grads are.” The band is currently working on a new recording of mostly original materials by McLain, McMurray, and Henard, and they are still booking dates for 2021 as Ten Penny Drive.