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Jim Wayne Miller Reader honored with Weatherford Award

A book co-edited by WKU English Professor Mary Ellen Miller has been honored as one of the best Appalachian books of 2014.

Every Leaf a Mirror: A Jim Wayne Miller Reader was honored with a Special Weatherford Award.

Every Leaf a Mirror: A Jim Wayne Miller Reader was honored with a Special Weatherford Award by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association.

Every Leaf a Mirror: A Jim Wayne Miller Reader edited by Miller and Morris Allen Grubbs is the recipient of the first Special Weatherford Award since 1999. Jim Wayne Miller (1936–1996) was, and continues to be, an inspirational catalyst for Appalachians. Every Leaf a Mirror brings together powerful samples of Miller’s poetry, fiction, non-fiction and essays.

The Weatherford Awards honor books that “best illuminate the challenges, personalities, and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” Granted by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association for 35 years, the awards commemorate the life and achievements of W.D. Weatherford Sr., a pioneer and leading figure in Appalachian development, youth work and race relations, and of his son, Willis D. Weatherford Jr., late Berea College President.

Jim Wayne Miller, Professor Miller’s late husband, came from the mountains of North Carolina, graduated from Berea College in 1958, and received his Ph.D. in German and American Literature from Vanderbilt University in 1965. For the next 33 years, he served as a Professor of German language and literature at WKU. Author and editor of 26 books and chapbooks, Miller taught as a poet in the schools, held workshops in many universities, and advocated for Appalachia and Appalachian literature.

In his Afterword to Every Leaf a Mirror, novelist Silas House explains that Miller’s writing “has had a profound impact on me and most of the Appalachian writers I know. I have witnessed his work transforming young people who come into contact for the first time. His writing inspires them to action.”

Chris Green, director of Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, shares, “Miller’s visionary thinking about Appalachian literature continues to help us see how words are a living, transformative force between people—in our homes, libraries, schools, publishing houses, universities, and hearts—throughout and beyond the mountains.”

As the preacher-narrator in Miller’s iconic long-poem “The Brier Sermon” offers, “You’ve heard it said you can’t put new wine in old bottles. / Well, I don’t know. / But don’t be too sure you’re new wine. / Maybe we’re all old wine in new bottles.”

Other winners of the 2014 Weatherford Awards are Susan Spalding’s Appalachian Dance (non-fiction), Marie Manilla’s The Patron Saint of Ugly (fiction), and Jesse Graves’s Basin Ghosts (poetry).

The winners will be discussing their books at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference on March 28, at 4 p.m. in room 102 of the Roger-Stout building at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Contact: Mary Ellen Miller, (270) 745-5721

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