Dr. Curtis Varnell’s latest book, Songs of the Mountain, was released last week.
Songs of the Mountain is a collection of poems, songs, and stories written by many local authors of the Arkansas River Valley. Included are songs written by upcoming artists like Buddy Case of Lee Creek Lyrical, Elda Bynum of Cox Valley, Jody Bell, and Dr. Glenda Ezell of Paris. There are poems written by and for coal miners, farmers, and early settlers as well as those written by many local school students.
Black Jack Inc., publishers of the book, describe it as “On a Saturday evening at Dutch Creek, Fouche Valley, or even at Turkey Trot near Waldron, you might see people come out of the hollows and off the hills carrying food, their instruments and lawn chairs, preparing for an evening of visiting, singing, and sharing stories. These are the people of the Ouachita’s carrying on the traditions and culture handed down for generations by the hill people. Gathering at churches or parks, they visit and exchange news along with passing out funny stories and advice from years past.
Astonishing numbers play some type of instrument; those that can’t get hymnals just sing along from memory. Many of the singers are artists who write their own lyrics; poetry describing the trials and triumphs of that life throws at hard-working, blue-collar farmers, lumberjacks, and tradesman.
Hidden away in the closets or stuffed in among dozens of papers in family Bibles, one finds the essence of these people’s lives in the scribbled verses of the poems and songs they write about daily life. Stories of hardship, stories of their history, stories of work and play, and a great many songs of their faith. This is their story; virtually unedited and written in frank, straight-forward language. These are the “Songs of the Mountain.”
The author and editor, Varnell, was born and raised in the Ouachita Mountains. His family were original Scotch-Irish who migrated to America in the late 1700s and settled the frontiers of North Carolina and Tennessee before migrating to Arkansas. His books are the story of his people, his culture, and many are the songs of his family.
Songs of the Mountain, as well as other books written by Varnell. are available at Books a Million, Amazon, or directly from the author. Books can also be ordered at a cost of $10 per copy with all proceeds going to the Logan County Boys & Girls Club.