‘An Evening with Poets’ serves as tribute to Jim Webb

Authors from across the region read at “An Evening with Poets” in tribute to the Jim Webb, a prominent figure throughout southern Appalachian who passed away last year.

“An Evening with Poets” held April 25 at Hazard Community and Technical College also served as a tribute to Jim Webb, who died last year. Webb was a figure known throughout Southeastern Kentucky for many things, including his radio alter ego, “Wiley Quixote.”

He was the host of WMMT FM’s ‘Riding Around Listening to the Radio’ for several years. Scott Goebel read about Webb’s life at the start of the event and named some of the other things he had done to become known to so many in the region. Goebel said that Webb and his brother, Rob Webb, had founded the Pine Mountain Literary Journal and that it was the official journal of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative.

Webb’s poem, “Get in Jesus,” has been called the most famous poem in Appalachia, according to Goebel. Webb also hosted countless events, festivals and soirees at his home atop Pine Mountain in Letcher County, known as “Wiley’s Last Resort. “

Authors Scott Goebel, Travis Stidham, Shelia Gollihue, Pauletta Hansel, Gregg Wagner and Gurney Norman read various poems, some written by or about Webb. Authors also read their original works, or poems that inspired them.

Steve Ruth emceed the evening and spoke of his friendship with Webb. Ruth recalled Webb’s ability to draw in many different kinds of people to his home on Pine Mountain

“You wouldn’t just see poets, you wouldn’t just see tree huggers, you wouldn’t just see hippies,” Ruth said. “You’d see coal miners and you’d see folks who were on assistance and you’d see folks who didn’t need any assistance whatsoever who rolled in with a gold Rolls Royce.”

He also said that Webb was able to form lasting and meaningful bonds with many different people.

“You would see people from all walks of life up there because he managed to get his arm out there and drag them in and they loved him, he loved them and they loved him,” said Ruth. “I’ve met some of the most amazing people i’ve ever known in in my life up on top of that mountain because of Jim Webb.”

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