Acclaimed storyteller and author Lew Bolton will serve as the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Mildred Haun Conference, sponsored by Walters State Community College. The free conference will be held on the college’s Morristown campus Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Of Jack Tales and Sleeping Birds: Youth, Literacy and Appalachia,” and Bolton is the perfect choice to deliver the keynote address. The storyteller has lived in the Smoky Mountains for over 40 years and has spent much of that time entertaining with his interactive storytelling theatre. Those same tales now climb right off the printed page in his book Smoky Mountain Jack Tales of Winter and Old Christmas.
Jack Tales are stories about a boy named Jack. Many people believe that Jack was taken from “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The stories were common in Appalachia and were first documented in 1939 by the Library of Congress.
Bolton involves audience members in his presentations about how Jack journeyed to Appalachia and how mountain families have nurtured the stories for generations. Bolton earned a degree in English from Clemson University and later received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater and Playwriting from Southern Illinois University.
Bolton’s keynote address is at 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 in the theatre of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex. Workshops during the conference will focus on fiction, nonfiction, poetry and songwriting.