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From The CriticsIn the '30s and '40s, James Still published poetry and fiction in every major literary venue, but his death this year went virtually unnoticed everywhere but Kentucky, where he was the poet laureate. The slight is unfortunate because Still was in many ways one of the founders of Appalachian studies. Born in 1906 on an Alabama cotton farm, Still eventually began teaching in eastern Kentucky, where he found a home and a subject that would occupy his life. Still recorded "living language" and found that poetry was in the air around him. The power of his work is expressed in the images and the sounds of Appalachian folk speech. Still's book recalls readers to the rich texture of sounds that constitute the English language in America.