Award-winning poet Rita Quillen to offer online poetry reading in Create Appalachia’s Leaf & Root & Berry Online series, free to the public

Tuesday, January 19, 7 PM to 8 PM
Online (Zoom)
Free and open to the public, but registration required


APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDS: Create Appalachia is excited to offer this reading free of charge to residents of the region and friends from outside of the mountains. The Leaf & Root & Berry Online series serves as a complement to the Leaf & Root & Berry botanical exhibit, featuring the work of visual artists from across the Appalachian Highlands. In keeping with the botanical theme of the exhibit, Create Appalachia is presenting a series of three free interactive online sessions, each of which features an artist who draws inspiration from our native flora. The first of these is Rita Sims Quillen, a beloved award-winning poet, author, singer, and songwriter whose work reflects her connection with nature and the seasons in her Appalachian home in Southwest Virginia.

Quillen will read and talk about a few of her poems, mainly from her newest book, Some Notes You Hold (Madville Press, October 2020). Quillen’s previous publications include a full-length poetry collection, The Mad Farmer’s Wife (2016, written as a response to Wendell Berry’s The Mad Farmer Poems), Her Secret Dream (2008 Outstanding Poetry Book of the Year, Appalachian Writers Association), October Dusk, and Counting the Sums. Quillen is also the author of two novels, Hiding Ezra (2005) and Wayland (2019). She has won recognition for her songwriting and is a sought-after musical performer. Acclaimed local painter and fine artist Suzanne Stryk, whose husband Dan Stryk is also a poet, provided the gorgeous artwork for the cover of Some Notes You Hold.

Quillen’s art builds community among artists, and their praise for her work is lavish. Diane Gillam, a West Virginia poet and the author of Kettle Bottom, says that Some Notes You Hold “draws for us a quiet world that holds both abundance and quiet, joy and ‘grace from going without.’” Gillam writes that this slim but powerful volume “is itself a ‘holy chorus,’ bringing the human voice together with ‘wolf howl, cooing doves, hallelujah magpies.’”

Lynne Powell, winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize, calls Quillen’s poetry “radiant,” saying that “her deft, generous voice travels the octaves from the ‘tiny cosmos of root, stem, and vein’ to the human complexities of hard work, loss, and love.”

A Q&A session and discussion will follow the reading. Create Appalachia has a limited number of copies of Some Notes You Hold for sale at $15 (usually $16.95).

Two additional free sessions are scheduled:


Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 at 7 PM
Taking an Oracle Walk (River Bryant)

This interactive online workshop will introduce attendees to River’s “Oracle Walk” practice, in which trees form the center of a guided nature mediation. Perfect for those who seek effective methods of relaxation, introspection, and connection to nature. Registrants will receive a handout ahead of time.


Sunday, January 31st, 2021 at 6 PM
Landscaping with Herbs and Edibles (Christy Shivell of Shy Valley Farm, Studios, & Garden)

Learn to transform your landscape with fresh, nutrient-packed food and flavorful herbs, without sacrificing ornamental value. Christy will share a list of her favorite plants for edible landscaping, with an emphasis on beauty and versatility. Native plants will be featured.

To register for any (or all) of these free interactive events or to inquire about purchasing a copy of Some Notes You Hold, please contact

Leaf & Root & Berry: an Appalachian Highlands Botanical Art Show & Competition is a collaboration between Create Appalachia and HERBalachia in affiliation with the annual Sassafras Moon Herbal Festival in Erwin, Tennessee. Mark your calendars for September 18, 2021.


Create Appalachia is a 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to the integration of arts and business. We strive to showcase our region’s creative work and to provide substantive professional development opportunities for artists and artisans, who are vital to regional economic development.



Katie Hoffman

Executive Director

Create Appalachia

(423) 329-4742


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