Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Albert F. Stewart, June 7, 1991

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:03 - Introduction to interview

Play segment

Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Albert Stewart for the University of Kentucky Library Kentucky Writers Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewee's name and the date and location of interview are given.

Keywords: Albert Stewart; Appalachia; Kentucky writers; Literature; Oral histories; Oral history

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert

00:00:31 - His full name and family history

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Will you tell me what your full name is?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart tells the story of his full name (he gave himself a middle name while at the University of Kentucky) and when and where he was born. He gives his family history, including talking about his siblings and listing when various relatives died.

Keywords: Appalachia; Hindman (Ky.); Yellow Mountain (Ky.)

Subjects: Appalachia; Families.; Genealogy; Stewart, Albert

00:07:15 - Early childhood / time at Hindman Settlement School

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What sort of childhood did you have, and where was it spent?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart's mother died in childbirth when he was two, His father remarried when he was about 4 or 5, and shortly thereafter he was sent to Hindman Settlement School as a boarding student. He also talks about working at the school and his visits home.

Keywords: Appalachia; Hindman (Ky.); Hindman Settlement School

Subjects: Appalachia; Childhood; Education; Hindman Settlement School; Stewart, Albert

00:14:23 - Time at a county high school / interests in school

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When I got ready for high school, I quit, came home, 'cause I didn't like the way they treated me, and I walked back and forth to high school for four years.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart left Hindman Settlement School after eighth grade and went home to go to the county high school, which he liked compared to his treatment at the settlement school. However, he liked French and Latin there, but couldn't continue those in high school, the county schools not being of the same quality and not offering those.

Keywords: Appalachia; Education; Hindman (Ky.); Hindman Settlement School

Subjects: Appalachia; Education.; Hindman Settlement School; Stewart, Albert

00:20:05 - History and development of the Hindman Settlement School

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --you tell me a little bit about the philosophy of that school, and, and how it came about?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart talks about the history and development of the Hindman Settlement School, discussing its various influences (the Hull House in Chicago, schools in Sweden) and its philosophy of "learning by doing," as well as its religious foundations. His poetry and its influences are also discussed.

Keywords: Education; Hindman Settlement School; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Hindman Settlement School; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry; Stewart, Albert

00:23:17 - Time at Berea College / influence of Lucy Furman

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, will you tell me a little about your education beyond the elementary and high school level?

Segment Synopsis: His mentor at Hindman, Kentucky, novelist Lucy Furman, encouraged him to go to Berea College, as it had a similar philosophy to the settlement school. He started there as a pre-med biology major with a minor in chemistry and classes taken in physics and English. Furman's life as a writer and her reasons for taking interest in him are also discussed.

Keywords: Berea College; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Lucy Furman; Lucy S. Furman; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Berea College; Furman, Lucy S.; Kentucky--In literature.; Stewart, Albert

00:28:57 - Work and personal life at Berea College

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When you were in Berea, uh, what sort of job did you have while you were in school at the college?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses the jobs he held while at Berea, both at the college and in town, during the school year and during summer. When asked about his social life, he talks about his time on the basketball, track, and long-distance running teams.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Berea College; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert

00:34:35 - Graduating from Berea College / being pre-med

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you thought you were gonna be--or I guess you were, a science major at Berea?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart nearly had a double major in English and biology, but graduated with just an A.B. degree in biology and a lot of hours taken. He chose this path because Lucy Furman wanted him to be a doctor because his grandfather had been one--a doctor in a book of hers was even partly modeled off of that ancestor.

Keywords: Appalachia; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Kentucky writers; Literature; Lucy Furman; Lucy S. Furman

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Berea College; Education.; Furman, Lucy S.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert

00:40:53 - His shifting literary interests

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, how did you feel about wanting to be a doctor?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses how his interests shifted more towards literature, and the various literary influences on that switch, including the books of Lucy Furman.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Lucy Furman

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Lucy Furman; Stewart, Albert

00:45:43 - Early exposure to writing

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, when did you begin to write?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses how little exposure to writing he had as a student before Berea, but that he enjoyed what he did do and was good at it.

Keywords: Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Lucy Furman; Lucy S. Furman; Writing

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Furman, Lucy S.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert

00:51:16 - Early interest in poetry

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But somehow, about that time, I began to get interested in poetry.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart talks about his budding interest in poetry as an undergraduate taking creative writing courses, leading up to his eventually being published.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: Berea College; Education.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

00:53:45 - After college / early publishing / time at Eastern Kentucky University

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about after college? What did you do?

Segment Synopsis: After graduating, Stewart went to Eastern Kentucky University and earned a teacher's certificate during the fall of 1936, and was able to teach secondary school biology and English. Here he also discusses his financial hardships in graduate school until he got student worker jobs. During this time he also tried to write poetry and got a few things published in the school papers.

Keywords: Lucy Furman; Lucy S. Furman

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Eastern Kentucky University; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

00:58:48 - Teaching in his home town

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, it was winter when you got your teaching certificate?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart taught three part-time teaching jobs. He'd never thought he'd ever want to teach, but he ultimately wound up enjoying it to an extent, particularly on the college level. Eventually, he moved to Georgia for a few months for a full-time teaching job. After that, he moved back home for a job at a bank.

Keywords: Alice Lloyd College; Appalachia; Education; Hindman Settlement School; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

01:05:22 - Switching interests to literature / graduate work at University of Kentucky

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I did my--well, I, I'd been back to school and done some graduate work.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart started graduate work at UK, working in the bank mentioned in the previous segment while writing his thesis in English literature, on Hart Crane specifically, whom he'd started reading while at Berea.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Education; Hart Crane; Hindman (Ky.); Kentucky writers; Lexington (Ky.); Literature; Poetry; University of Kentucky

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Berea College; Crane, Hart, 1899-1932.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert; University of Kentucky

01:11:14 - Brief overview of time in the navy, in Illinois, and in Georgia / teaching himself to write

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, you received your master's in English from UK?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart gives a brief overview of his life after earning his master's degree: entering the navy, starting at Illinois for graduate work, teaching in Georgia, and teaching himself to write.

Keywords: Education; Kentucky writers; Lexington (Ky.); Literature; Poetry; University of Illinois; University of Kentucky; World War II

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert; United States. Navy.; World War, 1939-1945

01:14:43 - Time in the navy / his poetry then

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You wrote, uh, poems when you were in the navy, or, or was that afterwards?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses his time in the navy during World War II in the Pacific theater, as well as its influences on him as a person (he says it made him more mature and sure of himself) and on his writing. He also talks about the influence of Hart Crane's sea poems on his own navy-inspired sea poems.

Keywords: Hart Crane; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; World War Two

Subjects: Crane, Hart, 1899-1932.; Education.; Literature.; Military.; Poetry; Stewart, Albert; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Area; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Philippines; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American

01:20:44 - Time at University of Illinois / in Georgia / return to UK

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When you came back from the navy, did you go directly to the University of Illinois?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses in greater depth his brief period at the University of Illinois, his time teaching in Georgia, and his return to UK. He also briefly returned to his bank job mentioned in an earlier segment.

Keywords: Appalachia; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry; University of Illinois; University of Kentucky

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert; University of Kentucky

01:24:05 - Teaching jobs after graduate school

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, when you left UK, what'd you do after that?

Segment Synopsis: After UK, Stewart briefly taught high school science outside Cincinnati and then for a year taught ninth grade English in Tucson, Arizona. Then his father fell ill and he moved back to Kentucky, taught again outside Cincinnati, and then eight years at Morehead State, where he also ran their creative writing workshop. Finally he moved to teach at Alice Lloyd College for eighteen years, where he founded the creative writing workshop there.

Keywords: Alice Lloyd College; Cincinnati (Ohio); Education; Hindman (Ky.); Kentucky writers; Literature; Morehead (Ky.); Morehead State University; Poetry; Tucson (Ariz.)

Subjects: Alice Lloyd College; American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Morehead State University; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

01:30:14 - Personal life and marriages

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, I'd just like to ask you a couple more questions about your personal life, and that is, were you ever married?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses his marriage before he entered the navy, divorce, and his remarriage to a former student at Morehead State. He talks about his children, including where they are now, what they're doing, where they're working, etc.

Keywords: Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Stewart, Albert

01:36:48 - Choosing to live in the house he was born in

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I understand that since you're still living in the house that you were born in, I'm, I'm wondering what that feels like and how that might have influenced your life and work.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses choosing to live back home in Appalachia, his love for the place, especially the mountains, and how he always knew, even while off at school or in the navy, that he'd come back. He also mentions A. E. Housman and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and talks about his personal life philosophy.

Keywords: A. E. Housman; Appalachia; Hindman (Ky.); Kentucky writers; Literature; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864.; Housman, A. E. (Alfred Edward), 1859-1936.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

01:41:18 - Running the magazine Appalachian Heritage

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, you founded and edited for twelve years, Appalachian Heritage.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses founding and editing the magazine Appalachian Heritage, the people he was involved with, who was published, and what was published.

Keywords: Appalachia; Appalachian Heritage; Appalachian Heritage magazine; Hindman (Ky.); Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

01:50:00 - Impact of Appalachian Heritage magazine / the new version of the magazine

Play segment

Partial Transcript: In, um, in what way do you think the magazine was most successful?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses the varying reception of the magazine, all the reasons people loved it, and how they funded and printed it. The interviewer compares the magazine to Foxfire.

Keywords: Appalachia; Appalachian Heritage; Appalachian Heritage magazine; Foxfire; Foxfire magazine; Kentucky writers; Lexington (Ky.)

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Foxfire Americana Library; Kentucky--In literature.; Stewart, Albert

02:03:28 - A review of his poetry collections

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, tell me about your three books of poetry.

Segment Synopsis: When asked for his thoughts on his own poetry, Stewart reads the very long first review of his first (and at the time, only) collection of poetry, "The Untoward Hills," saying that the writer of it explains it better than he could.

Keywords: Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

02:14:17 - Another review of his poetry

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What is this review from?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart reads another, later article on his poetry that was published in Appalachian Heritage over a decade after the volume of poetry.

Keywords: Appalachia; Appalachian Heritage; Appalachian Heritage magazine; Hindman (Ky.); Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry; World War II

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert; World War, 1939-1945

02:18:21 - One more review of his poetry

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, this one, let's see...

Segment Synopsis: Stewart reads one more review of his poetry, which references Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Keywords: Appalachia; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

02:20:18 - His life philosophy as expressed through his poetry

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I particularly like your line about "the high flak of stars."

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer inquires about a passage from one of Stewart's poems about "going quietly in the world," which leads to a discussion of his life philosophy and the future of his poetry, for which he reads from a letter he sent to somebody.

Keywords: Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

02:25:48 - His own thoughts on his poetry / the influence of his love of science

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What do you believe is most significant about your poetic vision or about your poetry as it relates to your view of the world?

Segment Synopsis: When asked what makes his poetry special, Stewart said that he does. This causes the interviewer to ask about his thoughts on the impact of his own scientific education on his drive for knowledge and observation of the world.

Keywords: Appalachia; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry; Science

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Education.; Literature.; Science.; Stewart, Albert

02:31:36 - His work habits and writing methods

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I wondered if you could tell me a little bit about your work habits?

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Stewart about his work habits and writing methods. He then talks about the great deal of "tinkering" that he does with his poetry.

Keywords: Appalachia; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert

02:34:31 - More on his writing methods, as demonstrated through his in-progress poetry

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When you are working on a poem, um, do you tinker with it in longhand until you've decided you have all the right words or do you type it up?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart answers further questions on his writing methods by showing the interviewer one of his in-progress poems, describing the inspiration, the story, and the process of writing it.

Keywords: Appalachia; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Kentucky--In literature.; Stewart, Albert

02:43:08 - Thoughts on education and creative writing / creative writing workshops

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, you've also written book reviews and articles on education and creativity.

Segment Synopsis: Stewart discusses his running of several creative writing workshops, his education philosophy, how he generates creativity in himself and in students, and what advice he'd give to young and aspiring writers.

Keywords: Alice Lloyd College; Appalachia; Creativity; Education; Hindman (Ky.); Hindman Settlement School; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: Alice Lloyd College; American literature--Kentucky.; Appalachia; Appalachian Region.; Education.; Hindman Settlement School; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.

02:50:06 - Concluding remarks / Stewart as a writer and as a person

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What do you think the most important thing is to know about you as a writer or as a person?

Segment Synopsis: Stewart gives some final thoughts as the interviewer winds down the interview, on the combination of being a writer and a person, what projects he'd love to do, what projects he is doing and will be doing, and lists some of the writers he admires.

Keywords: Appalachia; Creativity; Education; Kentucky writers; Literature; Poetry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Education.; Kentucky--In literature.; Literature.; Poetry.; Stewart, Albert