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By Candice Dyer:
Confronted by a claustrophobic newcomer who wanted to “reach out and push back the mountains” in Appalachia, poet Byron Herbert Reece observed: “It depends upon whether you feel you are shut in or the world shut out.”
Most of us who grew up in the Southern Highlands can see both sides from our vertiginous vantage-point: Hermits by default, we have been hemmed in—miserably, at times—but also sheltered and safeguarded by a rugged landscape and a clannish culture. This isolation has yielded some distinct, if not gloriously peculiar, folkways celebrated, once again, in Singin’, Praisin’, and Raisin’: The Foxfire 45th Anniversary Book, an expansive oral history collected by high-school students in the Foxfire program, based in Mountain City, Georgia, and edited by Joyce Green and Casi Best.