Monday, December 28, 2015

Poets, Writers and Storytellers New Year: Visiting Our Past

December is coming to a close, and the new year comes toward us, one minute at a time. We end this year with some thoughts from my literary friends that will, I believe, inspire us to consider deeply the passing of time and the coming of the future as we watch this old year wane. 
The start of a new year often causes us to review our past and reflect on what was valuable and what was not. Here Debbie Richard, a native of Calhoun County, West Virginia, takes us back to the Calhoun of her growing-up years.

Visiting Our Past
Drowned in the media-present,
we are tempted to move away from our past,
pursuing Utopian dreams,
leaving ancestral homes behind
in the pre-electronic age.
Relics, a rhinestone belt buckle, a red
View-Master gathering dust, grandma’s
antique cash register we played with as children,
family heirlooms tucked away in a closet,
a spare room forgotten.
Seeking out pieces strewn across
the framework of our lives–
Experiences from our landscape,
green hills and mountain ridges,
The two-room schoolhouse we attended as children,
Dad’s ’57 Chevy, a 4-door Bel Air sedan,
shiny two-tone light mauve and white,
Mother’s memories of the Mount Zion
Drive-in Theater on Rt. 16 in Calhoun County.

from Mount Zion's Facebook page

The excitement of the county fair at Camp Barbe
in Wirt County, West Virginia–
the oom-pa-pa of the Beer Barrel Polka
playing over the loud speaker,
the multicolored Ferris Wheel
circling overhead as we ate hotdogs
and drank cold soda pop
to the tune of In the Good Old Summertime,
the squeal of the greased pig as my brother
(clad in blue jeans, rolled up at the cuffs,
and a white T-shirt) chased it around the ring,
competing for a blue ribbon,
the clang-clang of the Nail-Driving contest
and the Horseshoe pitching contest,
the sticky sweetness of cotton candy,
candy apples, and corndogs on a stick.

We try to forget what we never expected to find.

--Debbie Richard

About Debbie, from her website

Debbie Richard is a native of West Virginia. Born in Parkersburg, she spent her early childhood in the rural community of Munday in Wirt County, and lived near Walton in Roane County during her high school years. Debbie studied Secretarial Science at West Virginia Career College in Charleston where she completed her courses in 1987 with honors. 

She moved to South Carolina as an adult, following her love of the ocean. After twelve years as a Report Analyst for a healthcare organization, she resigned in March 2009 to become full-time caregiver for her mother, Naomi Karen (Maze) Richard, who grew up near Big Bend in Calhoun County, West Virginia.

It's something to sing about when Earl Hamner, Jr. praises your work! "I think the book is a valuable detailed and most honest documentation of a part of Appalachia that has not been celebrated so well until now." --Earl Hamner, Jr., bestselling author of Spencer's Mountain and creator of the beloved The Waltons television series.  

Debbie offers a short two minute video, "Hills of Home, Book Trailer" highlighting her book. You can watch it by clicking here.

Hills of Home, published by eLectio Publishing of Little Elm, Texas offers a rich literary patchwork of reflection, memoir, and humor. Though comprised of a mosaic of individual stories, the compilation reads like a novel, and is characterized uniquely with the author's personal diary entries and a sailor's letters home.

Debbie is listed in the Directory of Poets & Writers as both a poet and creative nonfiction writer. Her poems have appeared in various journals and magazines including Halcyon, WestWard Quarterly, and The Storyteller. Her chapbook, Resiliency, was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky. She is currently working on her second book of poetry with plans to have it illustrated.

Contact Debbie at

For more about Calhoun County, visit the Hur Herald online newspaper.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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