|"The Well String is a significant contribution to Appalachian literature."
PRAISE for The Well String ...
excellent collection of poems. The Appalachian voices Noel Smith creates are utterly
convincing, and their stories allow the reader to feel as well as see the world she has brought
alive. The Well String is a significant contribution to Appalachian Literature."
– RON RASH
author of Saints At The River, The World Made Straight
and Chemistry and Other Stories
"Noel Smith’s extraordinary poems light up the dusky past – bringing people and their times
to startling life. I will never forget, for instance, the image of those boys and their father on
their raft of logs, unexpectedly viewing the Northern Lights:
“... the sky blanketed with flaming lights all colors and then some.
It stays floodlit as though Jesus were coming down then and there.
...in any case the world is coming to an end.”
This book is written in plain precise speech, highly charged with intensity and originality,
yet oddly familiar somehow, as if it has actually happened to us. These poems grab at the
heart of life."
– LEE SMITH
author of On Agate Hill, The Last Girls
and Fair and Tender Ladies
"Noel Smith’s poems can sound both rough-hewn and gentle. Their words have the feel of a
long-used rocking chair in which sat a teller of stories whose language harks back to the
beginning of all stories, like mountain springs bursting out of rocky ground. The lines in 'Hard
Passage,' for example, are wielded like the rigging and warping that fashion the destinies of
the poem’s characters, as well as the coffin in which Mama is 'gently set,' an iron deathbed,
yes, but one with 'curlicues/so brightly white.' Years ago at Hindman Settlement School, Noel
Smith’s first poems struck me with their verbal power. This first collection gathers their strong
voices together for all of us."
– KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER
author of Wildwood Flower, Black Shawl
and Coming to Rest
"There’s powerful music in Noel Smith’s The Well String. Work is the key and nature is the
rhythm in this song cycle sung down generations of an Appalachian family. Whether it’s the
saw that Papa and Sam wield in the logwoods ('back, forth, prance, stomp'), or the fiddle from
which Sam drinks 'the wine colored note as it hums/ Straight to his blood,' or the love-tight
string of the title poem, the tools these folks take up come alive. We are richer for the wisdom
and muscle of their voices. 'Hard, honey, hard,' Nellie tells us. 'I have gone through so much/
that I can take ahold/ of anything that comes along.'”
– GEORGE ELLA LYON
author of Don’t You Remember? (A Memoir)
and With a Hammer for My Heart
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Noel Smith was born and raised in New York
City. After graduating from Wellesley College
she became a social worker under Mary
Breckinridge at the Frontier Nursing Service in
Hyden, a community in Leslie County in
eastern Kentucky. Now retired from teaching in
elementary school, she spends as much time as
she can visiting in eastern Kentucky.
She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Her late husband, Peter Fernandez, was
a writer, director and actor best known for
the Speed Racer animated series.
|OTHER WRITING BY NOEL SMITH ...
online anthology Enskyment and online journals
Poems Niederngasse and Innisfree. Journal
appearances include New Letters, Shenandoah, Poet
Lore, West Branch, Appalachian Heritage,
Appalalachian Journal, Blueline, Dos Passos
Review, Iron Horse and others. An earlier version of
this manuscript was a finalist for the Tupelo Press
First Book Award. “Early April” was selected by
Donald Hall for the Yankee Magazine Prize. She
received two Denny C. Plattner honorable mentions
from Appalachian Heritage for “Chairmaker” and
“Floodtime Festival,” a second prize from Byline
magazine for “The Coal Speculator,” and the Henry
V. Larom Award from SUNY Rockland for “Sudden
Speech.” She has been nominated three times for a
"... not so much a
novel in poems."
|The Well String
|The Well String
Links to other online
Innisfree Poetry Journal
Innisfree 5 - Sept. 2007
|Click leaf to sample
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