Welcome to my website! Let's catch up.



My colleague Denton Loving and I have been very busy this semester. As co-directors of The Mountain Heritage Literary Festival we discovered we work really well together. Denton also contributes to the Appalachian Reading Series and a number of other writing related efforts at LMU.  We decided we worked so well together, with the design skills and artful eye of Liz Murphy Thomas, we launched a new LMU literary journal with an national audience in mind. 

drafthorse focuses on work or the absence of work. Take a look.



Mountain Heritage Literary Festival


This year's keynote presenters are poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Maurice Manning and Grammy-winning singer-songerwriter Matraca Berg. Master class teachers include Joseph Bathanti, Michael Chitwood, Jim Minick, and Lisa Soland. The Jesse Stuart lecture will be given by George Ella Lyon. The featured visual artist will be Alice Hale Adams. And Barbara Bates Smith will be here to debut her play based on the Ron Rash short story "Lincolnites." These wonderful artists will be in good company with other talented folks showcased in the concurrent sessions.  And back by popular demand, Tasha Thomas and Dawn Mitchell with be with us from the Spartanburg Writers Project to teach our pre-conference teacher workshop on Friday morning. And for those of you looking to compound your conference experience with a few days of solitude and writing time, join us for the inaugural Cumberland Gap-Table Rock Writers Studio. For more information and to register, visit the MHLF website.

Here are some good shots from the 2011 MHLF. Notice that everyone's smiling.


On the road

Check out my schedule to see when and where I'll be this spring and summer and into the fall, either reading or teaching or helping William sell his sculptures!


Somewhere amid all these doings, I’ve managed to write some poems and stories and work on my next novel.  What are you writing?








Because I'm both a writer and a writing teacher, there are features on this website for both readers and fans of Sufficient Grace and What Travels With Us and also features for writers and aspiring writers. I hope most of what's here appeals to everyone. I had taken a hiatus from my blog: Dancing with the Gorilla: Lyric Pontifications on the Kinetics of Reading, Writing, and Revising. But I'm easing back into regular blog posts, or should I say dance steps. Check out weekly posts on reading, writing, and arithmetic. This year I'm trying to read a book a week, write regularly, and learn to use numbers to my advantage. All the while, I'm still pontificating on reading, writing, and revision.  

There's something in Dancing with the Gorilla for anyone interested in books or stories, or anyone curious about how some stories get written. I'm a big believer that really good books are the best writing teachers. The best way to become a good reader is to appreciate what other writers have accomplished on the page. Many of my adult writing students have told me if they never publish

a book, they are better readers and read better books after taking a writing workshop. That's largely what this blog is about, no pun intended: to appreciate good reading and good writing.

I hope you take a peek at Dancing with the Gorilla and keep coming back, and I hope you find other interesting and useful surprises among the site's resources. Join me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and SheWrites, where I’m limping and lurching into the use of 21st century technology!

With warm regards,













News! News! News!

Garrison Keillor chooses a third poem from What Travels With Us for Writer's Almanc.

Chapter16, Tennessee's virtual Center for the Book. This great website from Humanities Tennessee focuses on Tennessee writers, including writers who've ever lived in TN and writers who are visiting TN, the 16th state. Content changes regularly, so k eep checking Chapter16!

Registration deadlines for 2011:

Novel group 5 now starting! Sue Orr is now taking registration for our 5th Novel Process extended novel workshop beginning in August 2011 (6 weekends over 18 months) and our 3rd Remember This extended memoir workshop beginning in July 2011 (4 weekends over 12 months). For more info, email Sue Orr at Learning Events, Sweetwater, TN.

I'm not able to attend the Alabama Writers Conclave this year because I'll be in Clarksville, TN, but if you can be in Huntsville, AL on July 15-17, check out this fine writers conference.

Early registration discounts available for the Clarksville Writers Conference. Early bird deadline is a postmark on or before June 29.

Register now for John C. Campbell Folk School workshop with Darnell. "Opening the Door to you Novel," August 7-13, 2011.

Register now for Table Rock Writers Workshop, Wildacres Retreat Center, Little Switzerland, NC, September 19-23.

Mark your calendars for the Southern Festival of Books, October 7-9, Legislative Plaza, Nashville, TN.

See Darnell's calendar  for other upcoming workshops and events.

Older news!

Darnell receives the 2009 Margaret Frances Hobson Prize in Arts and Letters from Chowan University.

Darnell named 2007 Tennessee Writer of the Year by Tennessee Writers Alliance.

Sufficient Grace named Book Sense Reading Group List pick.

Sufficient Grace receives starred review in Publisher's Weekly.

What Travels With Us: Poems named 2006 SIBA Poetry Book of the Year.

What Travels With Us: Poems awarded a 2005 Weatherford Award in Appalachian Literature from The Appalachian Studies Association and Berea College.

© 2006