Monday, November 12, 2012

Sylva, Jackson County Honor Carden At Gala Event

Dr. Gary Carden addresses audience Friday evening

“Gary Carden feted by Sylva, Jackson County, and friends.”

Sylva November 11, 2012—Friday November 9 friends of Gary Neil Carden honored the playwright/storyteller with a gala recognition event at the Jackson County Library. The reception, hosted by the Jackson County Friends of the Library, began at 6:00 pm in the library's atrium with music from local musicians Paul Iarussi and Eric Young. Proclamations and speeches from County Commissioner Doug Cody, Town of Sylva Mayor Maurice Moody (who declared November 9 “Gary Carden Day”), and Jackson County Historic Preservation Commission Chair Cherrie' Moses followed at 7:00 pm in the Community Room of the old Jackson County Courthouse to a crowd of over fifty people.

Dottie Brunette, librarian and one of the organizers of the event, said “Gary makes me laugh and cry more than any other playwright/storyteller and I am proud to be from the same town as Gary Carden. We needed to honor him as being part of us.”

Bill Crawford, a childhood friend, said “I think its wonderful what happened here and I appreciate what all of you did by having this for him.”

Patricia Cowan, president of the Friends of the Library said “We were honored to be asked to help honor Gary.”

When asked what he thought about this surprise celebration Carden said “Your names and faces are engraved on my heart.”

Dave Waldrop, local author and personal friend of Carden's said “Anybody who's written anything knows how hard it is to write. To write the plays and stories that Gary has and to receive state and national recognition for them is an accomplishment that happens far less than getting struck by lightening. Gary's earned everything’s he's gotten and will be remembered for his plays, stories, teaching Appalachian culture, and portraying Appalachia and its people in a realistic and poignant manner across multiple genres. I'm proud to call Gary Carden a friend and a mentor.

Carden given standing ovation for lifetime achievement in Southern Appalachian literature
Carden receives standing ovation from friends at lifetime achievement ceremony

Some information about Dr. Carden:

Gary Neil Carden
236 Cherry Street, Sylva, NC 28779
Birth Date: January 20, 1935

Websites: ; ;


"The Uktena" - "The Raindrop Waltz" - "Land's End" - "Nance Dude." "Birdell" - "Prince of Dark Corners" - “Madison” - “Signs and Wonders” - "Mother Jones" - “Outlander”

Appalachian Heritage Live Presentations:
“The Liars Bench” (2010 - current)

“Outlander” (2012) - “Mason Jars in the Flood and other stories” (2000) - “Papa's Angels: A Christmas Story” (1996; with Collin Wilcox Paxton) - “Belled Buzzards, Hucksters and Grieving Specters Appalachian Tales: Strange, True & Legendary” (1994; with Nina Anderson)

“The Prince of Dark Corners” (2009) - “Blow the Tannery Whistle” (1994) – Narrator of 2005 PBS Documentary “Mountain Talk”

Paintings (Southern Appalachian Outsider Art):
“Preaching to the Chickens” - “Jonah” - “The Fall of Sky Woman” - “Learning to Ride A Leopard” - “Mason Jars in the Flood” - “Two Foxes Dancing on a Moonlit Road in Georgia” - “Daniel in the Lions' Den” - “Rapture at MacDonald's”

North Carolina Award for Literature (2012)
WCU Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (2008)
The North Carolina Folklore Society: 2006 Brown-Hudson Folklore Award
2001 Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year (Mason Jars in the Flood)
American Library Association 1998 Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video

Influence in Appalachian Folklore/Culture:
Gary Carden, a regular contributor to The Smoky Mountain News/Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, is a playwright, storyteller and dramatist who has been recognized by the North Carolina Folklore Society for his contributions to folklore. The nominee taught Appalachian culture at Elderhostels at Highlands and Lake Junaluska for more than 20 years. The nominee created and is the artistic director for the Liars Bench, a live, authentic Southern Appalachian storytelling, music, poetry, drama, and folk arts presentation. The nominee has also been nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for “Outlander” in 2012. It is quite possible that no single individual has done more for the realistic portrayal of Appalachia and its people across multiple genres for over the past 40 years than Gary Neil Carden.


  1. WOW! WOW! and additional WOWS! Garu, That is terrific! "Gary Carden Day"? Really? Good Lord, Garu, you have gone far indeed. Congratulations.
    You deserved all that praise and more. I am very proud of you, my friend. Very proud.


  2. Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm impressed myself!

  3. I met Bobbie Curtis for the first time just yesterday, Thursday, May 8. She caught my attention when I learned she is a storyteller. I've always loved story telling wishing I had the talents to be one. Perhaps before I leave this earth my wish will come true.