Pellissippi State Libraries host first Appalachia Speaks symposium

Chris Green sitting at a table
Chris Green will headline Pellissippi State Community College’s inaugural Appalachia Speaks symposium later this month.

Chris Green, director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, will headline Pellissippi State Community College’s inaugural Appalachia Speaks symposium later this month. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, on Zoom. It also will be recorded for later viewing.

This program is sponsored by the Pellissippi State Libraries as part of the Appalachian Heritage Project, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Project offers quarterly programming and scheduled exhibits that support the enhancement of the Appalachian Collection, currently housed in the Hardin Valley Campus library. The Collection will move to the new Strawberry Plains Campus library when it opens in fall 2022. 

“The Libraries are proud to host Dr. Chris Green for our inaugural Appalachian Heritage Project fall speaker series,” said Mary Ellen Spencer, Dean of Library Services. “I’m excited that his talk will dovetail so well with the College’s efforts to create a sense of social belonging for our students, faculty and staff. We’re also excited to feature members of our own Pellissippi State English faculty, Associate Professors Candice Dendy and Patty Ireland. I hope those who attend will come away with a real sense of pride about living in this special region.” 

Green is author of “The Social Life of Poetry: Appalachia, Race, and Radical Modernism” and several books of poems and has edited “Coal: A Poetry Anthology.” For the last three decades, he has dedicated his work to helping Appalachians create and circulate their stories via creative writing, documentaries, music, children’s books and other mediums.  

“When someone asks (as they often do), ‘Where are you from?’ they are also hoping that eventually you’ll tell your story and how you came to be where you are,” Green said. “Just as each of us embodies the stories of the places and people we’ve known, so each place we go is made up of everyone’s stories who have been there (even those whose stories aren’t being told).   

“When we begin to understand how our stories and the stories of a place evolve and intertwine, we call that living history and we call that change,” he added. “When we begin to feel those stories combining in our bones, we call that belonging.” 

Green, Dendy and Ireland will share their own stories about being Appalachian and how that has influenced and guided their work as teachers and in education.  The last 20 minutes will be a Q&A session with questions from students in Dendy’s and Ireland’s English classes at Pellissippi State as well as from Ireland’s Young Creative Writer’s Workshop. 

For more information about the Appalachia Speaks Symposium or the Appalachian Heritage Project, contact Strawberry Plains Campus Librarian Allison McKittrick at