Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

FC Bookfest 2008

The Franklin County Bookfest has come and gone. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday night’s coffeehouse reading at Edible Vibe in exciting downtown Rocky Mount was—uh—interesting. Claudia—my neighbor from about a mile “over yonder”—and I went early for supper (The quiche is great!) as did several other folks.

No, that isn't a chicken on Dick Raymond's head. It's art on the wall.

Dick Raymond and I opened the show with our assorted Bulwer-Lytton entries. Starting with bad writing only meant things had to get better. My 2008 “Vile Pun” winner made its oral debut. Fortunately, the crowd had a lot of English majors, so just about everybody got it.

Mike Allen, editor of critically acclaimed Clockwork Phoenix) recited his weird and wonderful poetry rather than merely reading it (Anita joined him for one presentation from his new book of poetry, The Journey to Kailash). Then he read his story that’s in the latest Weird Tales magazine—definitely weird (and those of us who’ve taught college will never look at faculty e-mail in quite the same way again).

Mike Allen and his wife Anita display Mike's latest books.

Dan Smith, who last year read from his gritty memoir, Burning the Furniture, charmed us with his children’s story of Homer the Bassett Hound. He even brought his illustrator who showed us some illustrations in progress.

Following intermission, Pete Crow—my former Ferrum colleague and now retired—told us about the writing and research for Do, Die, or Get Along and read us a couple of first person accounts.

Then Peggy Shifflett, also a retired professor and now Cottage Curio proprietress, read from some of the funnier parts of her memoir, The Red Flannel Rag. I don’t think anyone present will think of front porch railings in quite the same way again (and I’m sure everyone added the term “pecker notch” to his or her vocabulary).

Peggy’s reading warmed up the crowd for a couple of risqué poems by Dick Raymond as well as for his ukelele finale, a song about "Charlotte the Harlot."

We didn’t have quite the packed house we had in 2007, but only a few tables were empty. (Why would folks stay home to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics when they could have a literary evening in Rocky Mount?)

Saturday morning’s session turned to the Civil War. Robert Johnson (father of Westlake children’s librarian Pam Palmer) read from his novel, This Violent Land, based on the diary of his wife’s ancestor, Major William Stone. Johnson also gave us much insight into his research about this young Union soldier who headed the South Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau, and he fielded several questions. Marc Leepson discussed Desperate Engagement, his book about a little-known battle fought by Franklin County’s own, General Jubal Early, on June 13, 1864.

At the beginning of his presentation, Robert Johnson asked the audience if anyone had heard the expression, “one fell swoop.” Almost everyone’s hand went up. Most knew it meant “in a single action.”The he asked where the expression came from. No hands.

That piqued my curiosity. I knew I’d heard the expression and I knew it was an oldie. At home, I did a bit of Googling. The first recorded instance was in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, when MacDuff, upon learning that his family had been wiped out by MacBeth’s orders, laments:

All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

“Swoop” refers to the action of a bird of prey (a kite was such a bird) that swooped down for the kill. “Fell” means “fierce, savage; cruel, ruthless; dreadful, terrible.”

Source: The Phrase Finder.

The neat thing about a bookfest is you get entertained—and sometimes you learn something.



Blogger CountryDew said...

Sounds like yet another good time!

5:20 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

Oh that sounds wonderful! I LOVE when folks recite poetry instead of merely reading it. Performance is EVERYTHING - Dr. Jen Boyle taught me that. Looks like it was a very enjoyable evening.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

It is not meant to be that I should meet Claudia. But it sounds like you had fun without me!

4:25 PM  

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