Deena C. Bouknight Contributing Writer
A team of people worked for more than a year to pull together, edit, and publish the free “River of Words” a 55-page literary compilation of local writers’ works.
Focusing on the theme, “a river of words,” due to the area’s natural waterways, the publication is the first edition of its Three Rivers Review series of the Arts Council of Macon County’s planned publications to celebrate area talents. The purpose is outlined in the publication’s introductory welcome “… to provide you, the reader, with a chance to sample all these writers’ works in a single publication, in the hope that you’ll want to read more, and seek them out at area bookstores and online.”
The project was named “Three Rivers” to call attention to the Cullasaja, Little Tennessee, and Nantahala. The publication is dedicated to the late Maude Bivins, who was a charter and sustaining member of the Arts Council of Macon County, and a “Retrospect of Barbara McRae” is included due to the fact that she was a local writer, historian, and much more.
Writings are both non-fiction and fiction, historical and imaginative. A short bio of each writer is included at the end of the publication.
The Three Rivers committee was made up of Bobbie Contino, Arts Council of Macon County director, as well as Claire Suminski, Merritt Shaw, Tom Tyre, and Betsy Gooder. Each person on the committee volunteered their time to handle various aspects of planning and production.
Suminski remembers that the project originally came about because she and Bobbie Contino were “brainstorming ways to promote the arts and specifically the literary arts in Macon County and this project was born out of that discussion. Bobbie put together a committee of Arts Council board members and supporters who she thought would be good to work on this concept together.”
The group began meeting in the Spring of 2021. The Review is the first since the 1980s, when a literary arts journal was overseen by Barbara McRae called “The Wayah Review.”
“This review is a reflection of people, experiences, and the times we live in right now, here in Macon County,” said Suminski, adding that “A Novel Escape, all of the libraries in our county, and many stores and gathering places are carrying the Review. We had 1,000 printed locally at Macon Printing. This truly is a hometown project.”
“A River of Words” may be found in county public libraries, the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, Smart Pharmacy, the Arts Council office, Main Street’s A Novel Escape Bookstore, and Uptown Gallery.
As for future publications, she added, “Some ideas that have been discussed by the committee are including songwriters, poetry, recipes, stories, and more.”