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The Nature of Things: Poems of Flora and Protest by Helen Matthews Lewis

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Helen Matthews Lewis is so prominent in our region as an activist that the Appalachian Studies Association has named its community service award after her. Her autobiography, also completed with appropriate help from Patricia Beaver, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2012. Yet, publishing poetry is a rather late endeavor for her. I’m proud that I published her first poems – reprinted here – when I was editor of Appalachian Heritage. Now 93 years old, Dr. Helen Lewis got her start as an activist for civil rights and labor as an undergraduate in her home state of Georgia. Her masters thesis is on the connections between the women’s movement and Black liberation, and her doctoral dissertation is on coal mining families. In addition to being a sociology professor, she has worked for Appalshop, Highlander and an array of other activist organizations. She now lives in the ElderSpirit Community in Abingdon, Virginia. Patricia Beaver is retired from directing the masters program in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Iris Press, 2018. 37 pages with color illustrations by Patricia Beaver. Trade paperback