George Scarbrough, Appalachian Poet

A Biographical and Literary Study with Unpublished Writings


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About the Book

A writer’s writer, East Tennessee poet and novelist George Scarbrough enjoyed a career that spanned eight decades and included numerous awards. This biography makes use of Scarbrough’s personal journals to tie his literature to his life and presents previously unpublished poetry, letters, and prose pieces. Somewhat overlooked during his lifetime, he is, as this book demonstrates, among the best poets of the 20th century.

About the Author(s)

Randy Mackin teaches writing and literature, and directs the Tennessee Literary Project, at Middle Tennessee State University. Editor of the weekly Buffalo River Review in Linden, Tennessee, he is a four-time Meeman Foundation Award winner for editorial writing.

Bibliographic Details

Randy Mackin

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6371-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8627-4
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      xi
Preface      1
Introduction      9

Part I—Walking the Paths of His Own Premise: The Life and Literature of George Scarbrough
One: Biography      15
Two: Family      51
Three: Songs of Defiance to Death      60
Four: A Small, Comfortable World      69
Five: The Novel      81
Six: Holding Han-Shan’s Hand      100
Seven: Myth and Metaphor Out of the Way      111
Eight: Scarbrough’s Critics      121

Part II: Selected Unpublished Poems, Letters and Conversations
Nine: A Selection of Previously Unpublished Verse and “Good Friday, New Mexico, 1955”      127
Ten: A Selection of Scarbrough’s Letters      148
Eleven: A Selection of Letters to Scarbrough      170
Twelve: “Something of a Bio and an Itinerary” (by George Scarbrough)      183
Thirteen: An Interview      189

Appendix: Publications and Awards      201
Bibliography      203
Index      207

Book Reviews & Awards

“a masterful treatment of a complex and deserving writer. Indeed, one hopes that George Scarbrough can now rest in peace with the assurance that his story has finally and superbly been told”—Appalachian Journal; “Mackin seems to have followed every trail and sidepath, examined every clue, and assembled the resulting knowledge into this fascinating and near-obsessive (as all books of this kind must be if they are to amount to anything) mosaic to explain this creative and complicated poet. Part biography, part critical analysis, and enormously readable, Mackin’s book seems sometimes to ponder the nature of creativity itself.”—William Gay, author of The Long Home, Provinces of Night, and Twilight, and I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down (short stories).