When Gary DeNeal, longtime publisher of southeastern Illinois’ Springhouse magazine, handed the reins to his son, Brian, a few months ago, I intended to write a blog post about the publication and the DeNeals’ role in fostering engagement with the humanities in their corner of our state. I soon found, however, that I couldn’t do justice to their work and the insights that they shared with me about their development as writers and cultural interpreters within a short essay. Consequently, I wrote a longer essay, and The Daily Yonder has generously seen fit to publish it.
If you’re not familiar with The Daily Yonder, it’s worth a look. It has often featured contributions from at least two Illinoisans: noted agricultural commentator Alan Guebert of Delavan and Timothy Collins, assistant director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Dr. Collins’s latest contribution, an article examining the USDA’s new Strategic Economic and Community Development Initiative and its potential impact at the regional level, appears here. Additionally, although Gary Bentley’s reflections on his experiences as a coal miner are set in eastern Kentucky, they might resonate with Illinoisans who have mined the “black gold” that underlies much of our state.
It’s also worth noting that Hugh DeNeal – Gary’s son and Brian’s brother – read three of Gary’s poems as part of the Southern Illinois Wonders radio series that we co-produced with WSIU Public Broadcasting in 2014.