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Tuesday, October 21, 2003
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Appalachian writer participates in spreading the culture

By Bethany Miller

This story is part of a five-part series featuring this week's featured guests of Ohio University Zanesville Campus' fifth annual national conference, Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments.

Joyce Dyer Photo courtesy of Hiram CollegeTo fully understand oneself, one has to be aware of his or her roots and be knowledgeable of the tradition connected to those roots. That is why well-known author, Joyce Dyer, continues to study Appalachian culture.

"Appalachian culture has been a significant part of my life since I was born," Dyer says. "I didn't realize what my roots were until I began to read Appalachian writings, and the sheer beauty, excellence and loveliness of the literature made it mandatory to talk about and to learn about."

Dyer, author of "The Awakening: A Novel of Beginnings," "In a Tangled Wood: An Alzheimer's Journey" and "Gum-Dipped: A Daughter Remembers Rubber Town," will discuss her personal history with the region and her identity as an Appalachian writer at Ohio University Zanesville's fifth annual Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments national conference from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25.

The conference is important because it serves as a medium for Appalachian women to better understand who they are in relation to their background, Dyer says. However, the conference is not limited to women.

"The process of conversation and the understanding of our wide experiences let us walk away with more pride," she says. "We get the opportunity to deal with the challenges and struggles as well as the celebrations."

The conference also spreads knowledge and truth about the Appalachian culture to those unfamiliar with the region. Appalachian literature and culture have been neglected, Dyer says.

"Appalachia is the site of a current literary Renaissance in America," Dyer says. "If the population doesn't know what's happening with the region, our lives will be diminished."

Other than being an accomplished writer, Dyer is also the director of writing and a professor of English at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. Besides three books, she also has published over one hundred essays in magazines such as North American Review and High Plains Literary Magazine and was editor of Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers. Her writing has won her numerous awards including Appalachian Writers Association 1999 Book of the Year and an Individual Artists Grant from the Ohio Arts Council in 1997.

Currently, Dyer is working on "Goosetown: Meditation at the Corner of Cross and Grant," a prequel to a previous book, and "Makeover: Beauty in America," a subject unrelated to Appalachian culture.

"Just because I'm an Appalachian writer does not limit my focus of literature," Dyer says. "But studying the region allows me to walk thousands of miles in any direction I want to go."

Bethany Miller is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.

The Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments is still accepting registration, and some events are open the public. For a complete schedule of events or for registration information, visit www.zanesville.ohiou.edu/ce/wac/default.asp

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