In Memory of Mike Mullins  

          Editors’ note: We would never have been able to launch a literary magazine if not for the love and support shown to us by Mike Mullins, Executive Director of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Ky. We have been attending and teaching at the annual Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman for several years. Much of our confidence as editors came to us through the years because Mike “fathered” us in word, spirit and deed.

          We were heartbroken to learn the sad news that Mike passed away on 19 February 2012 after a sudden heart attack. We offer our deepest sympathies to his immediate family, co-workers and friends, and to everyone who calls the Appalachian Writers Workshop “home” for one week each summer.

          Although this short tribute was written for another occasion to honor Mike, we wanted to reprint it here as a modest remembrance of the important and heroic work Mike Mullins did at the historic Hindman Settlement School since 1977.

Thirteen Trees

A Found Poem* for Mike Mullins

For Mike, the faithful steward who follows the long vision of the quare women a century before; who surveys Troublesome Creek with watchful eye for drought or flood, follows the muskrat at its banks; who knows the flap of owl wing and fiddle song at night and the chatter of birds and children by day; who guards the deer and copperhead, kudzu and graves, tends the ghosts of poets and teachers; who keeps the mission of the Settlement School both current and sacred…For Mike, this little found poem, lodged deep in the diaries of May and Katherine:

                        In the midst of a grove thirteen

                        different kinds of trees:

                        sourwood, paw-paw, hickory

                        walnut, chestnut, persimmon

                        basket-oak, black-oak

                        dogwood, redbud, wild

                        grapes, sassafras and sugar

                        maple.  Here there was always

                        shade and a breeze.

* This list of trees was found in the journals of May Stone and Katherine Pettit, the founders of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky. Before they founded the permanent settlement school in 1902, they spent three summers in the mountains conducting social settlement camps for local residents. Their journals are preserved in The Quare Women’s Journals, edited by Jess Stoddardt.