A Duke’s Mixture and a Hill of Beans: A Celebration of Literature and Literacy in Appalachia

Published 12:03 pm Friday, August 2, 2019

Join William S. Tribell and friends at the Butcher’s Pub in Pineville Aug. 3 from 5 p.m. until closing in celebration of his latest collection of poetry.

“A Duke’s Mixture and a Hill of Beans” was released by Black Madonna Press and sponsored for nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 by Spectrum Radio with Appalshop’s WMMT 88.7 FM in Whitesburg. The Pulitzer Prize is sponsored by Columbia University and the Pulitzer Board is responsible for selecting the finalists and winners of the prestigious prize each year.

“I wrote most of this book while living in Cumberland Gap,” said Tribell. “It’s about place. I hope everyone can relate to something in this collection. A Pulitzer nomination is neat for sure; what an honor, but I am more than pleased knowing some of ‘you’, the people of Appalachia and anywhere else might read it and find a joy or connection.”

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The book also features the painting “Entering Kentucky” by Pineville artist Mason Combs on the cover, sketches throughout the collection by Cumberland Gap artist Sonia Sayani, a forward by Lee Pennington, an introduction by Linguist Anna Sixkiller of the Cherokee Nation and a review by Ron Whitehead.

“This event is a celebration of words and music, of a place and culture, of time and presence,” added Tribell. “We will be reading and presenting works with the accompaniment of musicians with the thought that everyone may enjoy themselves in the moment and in this place.”

Joining Tribell will be:

Three time Pulitzer nominated poet Lee Pennington. Author of over 20 books, he was named Poet Laureate of Kentucky in 1984. An associate and friend of the great Kentucky author and educator Jesse Stuart, Pennington is also an accomplished film maker, having produced 24 documentaries, including: In Search of the Mudmen, Bosnian Pyramids Hidden History and Room to Fly: Anne Caudill’s Album.

“A Duke’s Mixture and a Hill of Beans” captures the feeling one gets when making one’s way through the hills and hollers of Appalachia-some of which have disappeared or is in the process of disappearing,” says Pennington. “Tribell makes wonderful use of Appalachian mythology, her folklore — which is as important as that of ancient Greece or ancient Rome or ancient Scandinavia or anywhere else in the world for that matter.”

He goes on to say, “This is the way I look upon his book — a kind of planting and harvesting where we see plowed fields, growing plants, and finally the joy of nature’s yield. Tribell knows what he’s doing. He’s no stranger here. He’s a native son, one who has learned to listen, to see, to record. He has a great story to tell. We need to hear him.”

Pennington has re-released his 19 collection Songs of Harlan this year and will open the evening with “The Poet Walks”; both the intro to his books “Tomorrow’s People” and “Songs of Bloody Harlan”. In 1981, Pennington read the poem to the World Congress of Poets gathering in San Francisco. It’s both a statement on Appalachia and art.

Two time Pulitzer nominated Kentucky Outlaw Poet, scholar and activist with a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Ron Whitehead, author of over 30 titles and over 40 CDs, will be in attendance with his latest work “KENTUCKY BOUND: poems, stories, and songs.”

Of Tribell’s new collection Whitehead says, “Rare is the poet who can create living breathing images, bringing a place and a people fully to life, as William S. Tribell has magnificently accomplished in A Dukes Mixture and a Hill of Beans. ‘That Day Over to the Belva Straight Creek Mine’ and ‘The Old Walnut Tree’ are two of his many Kentucky gems. But the far seeing rebel poet departs from Kentucky and wanders on to foreign lands. Read [his] new masterpiece to find out where he goes. And, believe me, he goes.”

Whitehead’s poetry has been featured many times, many places; including a book written by the 14th Dalai Lama. An associate and friend of Hunter S. Thompson, as a performer and producer, Whitehead’s most notable production was the Official Hunter S. Thompson Tribute, which featured among others; Johnny Depp, David Amram, and Roxanne Pulitzer. He has edited thousands of works by authors such as Jimmy Carter, Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The house band for the night, Louisville’s Blind Feline, will be bringing everything together with their cosmic funk folk country sauce rock.

The evening will also feature singer, writer and conceptual artist for social change, Shannon Davis-Roberts. Her and her husband, artist Justin Roberts own Walk the Willow Eco-furniture and Sculpture and are co-founders of The New South Arts Initiative.