June 26, 2015 - Harrogate, Tennessee—Jim Minick of Augusta, Georgia, is the winner of the 2015 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, awarded by Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tenn. The prize is $1,500 and is awarded to an Appalachian writer who shows overwhelming promise in the continuation of great writing in the region.
Jim Minick is the author of four books, the most recent, The Blueberry Years, a memoir that won the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. His work has appeared in many publications including Oxford American, Shenandoah, Orion, San Francisco Chronicle and The Sun.
Until this year, Minick has lived all of his life in the Appalachian Mountains. He grew up in the small town of Newburg, Pennsylvania, and eventually wound up in Radford, Virginia, where he taught at Radford University. Beginning in the Fall of 2015, Minick will serve as assistant professor at Georgia Regents University. He is also a core faculty member of Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.
The fellowship is named in honor of Jean Ritchie, the award-winning musician and writer who died on June 2, 2015. Besides being an internationally known singer, songwriter, activist and musicologist, Ritchie was also the author of several books. Ritchie's best known work is Singing Family of the Cumberlands. The book has never been out of print since its 1955 publication and is known as one of the major classics in Appalachian literature.
This is the eighth year the fellowship has been awarded through LMU’s annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, which honors writers of the region like James Still and Jesse Stuart, both alums of LMU. The fellowship is funded by an anonymous donor, and the judging process is completely blind, with a panel of judges within the region choosing several finalists that are then sent out of state to a final judge.
Through literature, a region tells stories to its citizens and the world. The Jean Ritchie Fellowship seeks to support, encourage and honor writers from the Southern Appalachians.
The fellowship is the first of its kind for the region's writers, and is committed to Appalachian voices.
The fellowship strives to support artists who, like Ritchie, create works of beauty and social relevance, while honoring traditional heritage and forging a new path.
Award amount: $1,500
2008 - Mindy Beth Miller from Hazard, Kentucky.
2009 - Larry Bingham of Portland, Oregon
2010 - Katie Perry of Austin, Texas
2011 - Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, Kentucky
2012 - Amy Clark of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
2013 - Charles Dodd White of Candler, North Carolina
2014 - Mesha Maren of Alderson, West Virginia
Lincoln Memorial University
Cumberland Gap Parkway
P.O. Box 2005
Harrogate, TN 37752
423.869.6432 or 800.325.0900, ext. 6432