While a great deal of attention has been paid to political and temporal shifts in literature, not to mention issues of gender, race, and sexual orientation, little has been paid to a rural versus urban viewpoint. Given that the last 100 years has produced not only wanton destruction of rural and natural lands but has presided over an unprecedented shift in population– for the first time in mankind’s history the vast majority of people live in cities– this silence cannot just written off as a lack of interest.
While there are exceptions, being a rural writer a good way to get forgotten. “Regional” is the term usually used to dismiss a writer or a work, carrying with it the stink of poor quality and parochialism, but frequently masks a prejudice against any writing too deeply rooted in a place, and therefore unlikely find a wide audience.
But there is more at stake than commercial success. It is my hope that we will come to view the struggles of rural Kentucky, rural China, and rural Australia to be, largely, one in the same and to encourage writers from or drawn to such regions to view their work as part of an insurgency.
Additionally, the mythologies and folklore of Native Americans are rural, as is nature writing, but in order to talk about them as such the notion of ‘rural’ must be redefined. This is part of the struggle.
Rural peoples, whether they be natives tribes, like those protesting the building of a mega-dam in the Amazon, or French viticulturists resisting a multinational land-grab, or small communities in Kansas trying to keep a grocery store, are the last line of defense against wanton misuse and destruction of the lands that provide their food and shelter, not to mention in possession of unique cultural merit.
An empty land is a defenseless land.
A rural renaissance is necessary for the survival of the species.
Rural culture is exciting.