Owen County native shares Kentucky stories
Novelist Willa Cather once said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of 15.” Perhaps no one understands this better than renowned author and Owen County native Georgia Green Stamper.
Longlisted for the 2023 Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, Georgia’s latest release, Small Acreages: New and Collected Essays, takes readers back to the author’s beloved Natlee, a small community on Eagle Creek 13 miles north of Owenton, in Owen Electric Cooperative’s service area.
A seventh-generation Kentuckian, Georgia spent her formative years on a family-owned tobacco farm, a heritage spanning nearly two centuries. Now a Lexington resident, her rural upbringing is pivotal in her literary pursuits. “I never left Owen County, or perhaps, more accurately, it never left me,” she reflects. Her writing is imbued with values of decency, harmony and authenticity—legacies of her Owen County roots.
Georgia’s literary journey began in earnest during her late mid-life, driven by a lifelong ambition to write and bolstered by the supportive community at Lexington’s Carnegie Center for Learning and Literacy and the Appalachian Writers Workshop at Hindman Settlement School. Her essays, which have graced various literary journals and anthologies, are a regular feature in Kentucky Humanities magazine.
Stamper addresses the crowd at Broadway Books in Ashland.
Her first two books, You Can Go Anywhere From the Crossroads of the World (2008) and Butter In the Morning (2012), garnered acclaim from both reviewers and fellow authors. Current Kentucky Poet Laureate Silas House praises her ability to “capture and preserve a place, a time and its people.”
Small Acreages marks a return to Eagle Creek, its vibrant characters, and Georgia’s roots while also reflecting her broader life experiences. Many essays are new, while others are revisions from her previous collections, including an expanded piece on James Herndon, a significant 19th-century figure in Owen County.
Georgia’s writings in Small Acreages include themes from grief to young love, emphasizing the universal nature of human emotions. She borrows the title from Wendell Berry, famed Kentucky author and activist, reflecting on the importance of homemaking and community.
Despite leaving Owen County in 1967, Georgia continues to honor her heritage, introducing the characters and stories of her early life to new generations. “I’ve had a sense that my people, my corner of Kentucky and the world, have been ignored in the world of letters,” she says. Through her writing, she seeks to celebrate and share the “extraordinary ordinary” lives of those from her youth.
MOLLY HAINES RIDDLE is the editor of Sweet Owen Magazine, a quarterly tourism publication celebrating all things Owen County.