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Kentucky Press

Troublesome Rising: A Thousand-Year Flood in Eastern Kentucky

Troublesome Rising: A Thousand-Year Flood in Eastern Kentucky

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"The flood came at night, forcefully and quickly, destroying so many lives in its wake. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it will happen again and again."—Carter Sickels

In late July 2022, a catastrophic flash flood claimed the lives of more than forty people and devastated homes and communities in Central Appalachia. The forty-fifth annual Appalachian Writers' Workshop at Hindman Settlement School in eastern Kentucky was in progress when surging floodwater forced the participants and staff to rush to higher ground. The school lost classrooms, housing, and gathering areas, as well as valuable equipment, and irreplaceable artifacts such as historical books and documents, photographs, and handmade musical instruments from the school archives were damaged. As the floodwaters receded throughout the region, countless lives were forever changed.

In this visceral and powerful anthology, well-known and emerging Appalachian writers create an authentic space for processing and healing as they document and share the depth of the flood's devastation. Through words and images, Troublesome Rising reveals the writers' fears, desperation, sadness, and anger while detailing and examining the disaster's causes, the need for solutions, and how flooding has historically impacted the Appalachian community and culture. In a shared, varied, and resounding voice, this compelling collection not only serves as a historical document and an in-depth investigation of the event, but also as a celebration of Appalachian strength, determination, and resilience.

Melissa Helton, literary arts director at Hindman Settlement School, has belonged to the Hindman writing community since 2015. Her work has been published in Shenandoah, Still: The Journal, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Appalachian Review, the Norwegian Writers' Climate Campaign, and more. Her chapbooks include Inertia: A Study and Hewn. She was previously a tenured associate professor of English at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.


Introduction, by Melissa Helton
Prologue: Noah's Wife, by Sonja Livington
The Map Keeps Changing: Section 1
1. Hanktum, by Jesse Graves
2. After This, the Deluge, by Julia Watts
3. they freaks of nature, by Bernard Clay
4. Blue Hole, by Maurice Manning
5. Invisible, Essential, by Leatha Kendrick
6. It's Raining This Week, by Christopher McCurry
7. Flood Walking, by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
8. Forty Years and a Flood, by Patricia L. Hudson
9. Fight from Away, by Neema Avashia
10. The Shape Water Takes, by Melva Sue Priddy
11. from Making it Home, by Wendell Berry
12. Planting Trees in God's Country, by Maurice Manning
13. Collective Healing, by Amelia Kirby
14. This Too is Creation, by Darnell Arnoult
Water's Dark Body: Section 2
15. Rise and Fall: A Sonnet, by Marianne Worthington
16. Coal+iron+natural gas, by Kari Gunter-Seymour
17. How to Sleep, by Tina Parker
18. Troublesome Rising, by Carter Sickels
19. From the Tennessee Side of the Mountains, by Jesse Graves
20. Fire and Rain, by Jamey Temple
21. Before, by Jayne Moore Waldrop
22. Flood Watching Instructions, by Patsy Kisner
23. Belonging, by Meredith McCarroll
24. Strangers —: Flood Crossing, by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
25. Wall of Water: A Story, by Robert Gipe
26. One of the Sounds of Water, by Annie Woodford
27. From Furman, by Melva Sue Priddy
28. Turtletalk, by Tia Jenson
29. What Water Can't Erase, by Amanda Fugate Sheffel
30. Knowing, by Darnell Arnoult
31. Stag: A Story, by Gwen Akers
32. Aerial View of Catastrophic Flooding in Eastern Kentucky, by Pauletta Hansel
33. Aquarius, by Randi Ward
34. Chain of Custody, by Melissa Helton
35. With What Remains, by Pamela Hirschler
These Sunken, Unpeopled Streets: Section 3
36. Backwash, by Kelli B. Hansel Haywood
37. Floods Make Fertile Ground, by Shelly Jones
38. The Gift Horse: A Story, by Monic Ductan
39. elegy for an eastern kentucky grocery, by Bernard Clay
40. Dark Waters, by Randi Ward
41. Headlines and History, by Marc Harshman
42. The Flooded Town, by Doug Van Gundy
43. Absence and Elements, a Prayer, by Leah Hampton
44. No Friends of Coal, by Pauletta Hansel
45. Brothers 12 & 14, by Christopher McCurry
46. Elvis, by Frank X Walker
47. Where Was the Music, by Nikki Giovanni
48. River Rising, by Lee Smith
49. Five-Hundred-Year Rains, by Annie Woodford
50. Learning from Home, by Tina Parker
51. Ain't No Grave: A Story, by Savannah Sipple
52. Reliquiae Diluviana: (Relics of the Flood), by Sonja Livington
53. The Only Prayer, by Scott Honeycutt
54. Don't Tell Me, by George Ella Lyon
There's Nothing Untouched: Section 4
55. Surge, by Lisa J. Parker
56. The Morning After, by Doug Van Gundy
57. Around the Table, by Ouita Michel
58. Mr. Still's Hat, by Jane Hicks
59. What We Saved, by Erin Miller Reid
60. Aching for Troublesome, by Elizabeth Lane Glass
61. Bluegrass Navy, by Kari Gunter-Seymour
62. Mud: A Story, by Courtney Lucas
63. Pulled from the Flood, by Silas House
64. From the Road, by Wesley Browne
65. Salvage, by Amanda Jo Slone
66. To Ask, by Scott Honeycutt
67. It Is Still Here, the Magic, by Amy Le Ann Richardson
68. After, by Richard Hague
69. After the Flood, After the Tornado, and Before the Next, by Jim Minick
Epilogue: Rise, by Nickole Brown
Appendix: Campus of Hindman Settlement School Map, 45th Appalachian Writers' Workshop Schedule, Historical Timeline of Hindman Settlement School
Notes and Permissions
A Final Note, by Melissa Helton

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