This past week, I had the joy of coordinating an artist residency at Cordia School with poet Emily Hudson of Hazard, Kentucky. Emily shared with students the importance of place, identity, and culture, and how each of these can be explored and expressed through poetry. As a beginning exercise, Emily shared with students the poem “Where I’m From” by Harlan, Kentucky native George Ella Lyon. Using this template, students incorporated vivid details from their lives into their poems. Some students shared about the importance of Sunday suppers at mamaw’s, others described the beauty of the mountains, covered in kudzu and the vibrant colors of fall.
Throughout the week, as students crafted poems about practices and material objects that are important to their communities and place, one particular tradition came up with some regularity: hunting. Students shared stories of going out on a hunt for the first time. They told about times of victory and occasions of defeat, and wrote about food traditions associated with hunting, such as making deer jerky.
Hearing all of the poems that featured hunting, I was reminded that hunting has been an important tradition here in the mountains for some time. While it may not be a necessary means of survival as it once was, it still holds cultural significance for many. So for our blog readers, I thought I’d share some photos from our archives that relate to hunting.
There’s not a whole lot known about these two photos, but both are of a young man named Virgil Slone. The first shows Virgil holding his rifle, and the second shows Virgil with his dog, Ring. I’m not an expert in hunting dogs, but I’m left wondering if Ring went on a hunt or two in his time.
Since we’re on the topic of hunting and poetry, I also thought I’d share a poem about hunting from James Still. It’s from his book The Wolfpen Poems, a collection of poetry he penned when he lived in a two-story log house on Little Carr Creek here in Knott County.
The poem is fittingly titled “Hunter.”
-Do you have memories of hunting? If you have any stories or thoughts you’d like to share, please email me, Folklife Specialist Nicole Musgrave, at email@example.com. All of us here at Hindman Settlement School love hearing from our community members, and I think I speak for everyone in saying that we would love to hear your stories!