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UKP Author/Activist Wins Appalachian Writers Book of Year Award

by Whitney Hale, Mack McCormick

(Oct. 23, 2013) — University Press of Kentucky (UPK) author Helen Matthews Lewis has been named the recipient of the 2012 Appalachian Writers Association’s Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction for her book "Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia."

Helen Matthews LewisThe Appalachian Writers Association (AWA) mission is to promote and recognize writing about the Appalachian region which includes those eastern mountains and foothills ranging from Alabama to Maine. The AWA aims to promote writers living in or having lived in the Appalachian region and those who have significant Appalachian connections through heritage or scholarship.

Each year AWA presents the Appalachian Book of the Year Awards in recognition of superior and significant writing. The award was presented to Lewis at a banquet at East Tennessee State University held Oct. 18.

A prominent author, political activist and community leader, Lewis has spent much of her life promoting Appalachian studies and social justice. Her work as an author has been extensive — including 10 monographs and almost 50 book chapters, articles and reports — and her accomplishments as a social justice advocate have had a tremendous effect on bringing broad attention to the region. Through her efforts, a vast body of scholarly material on the region has been produced during her lifetime.

A fitting addition to that body of work is "Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia." Editors Patricia Beavers and Judith Jennings have gathered Lewis’s most prominent writings in order to highlight the contributions she has made to the field of Appalachian studies. The book offers a complete observation of social movements in Appalachia through the eyes of one of the region’s most prominent scholars and serves as a signpost to the progress made in the region.

Lewis has served as the director of the Berea College Appalachian Center, Appalshop’s Appalachian History Film Project, and the Highlander Research and Education Center. She is coauthor of"Mountain Sisters: From Convent to Community in Appalachia" and "Colonialism in Modern America: The Appalachian Case."

Beaver, director of the Center for Appalachian Studies and professor of anthropology at Appalachian State University, is coeditor of "Tales from Sacred Wind: Coming of Age in Appalachia."

Jennings, executive director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women, is the author of "Gender, Religion, and Radicalism in the Long Eighteenth Century: The “Ingenious Quaker” and Her Connections."

UPK is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The press has a dual mission — the publication of books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and the publication of books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky is the statewide mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentuckyand serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies.