Teller Tales — 2007


By Jo Carson

“Jo Carson is one of the nation’s premier playwrights and storytellers. Her roots as a writer reach back to the American traditional narrative styles, and her dramatic works drawn from American frontier history are brilliant in their originality.”

Gurney Norman, author of Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories

“Jo Carson is one of Appalachia’s most gifted and original playwrights.”

Journal of Appalachian Studies

“Carson deftly leads the Teller Tales audience through the thicket, occasionally and suddenly bringing us out into a linguistic clearing before plunging us back into the laurel. This narrative inventiveness makes reading Teller Tales an exhilarating experience.”

Appalachian Journal

Show all quotes

“All my work fits in my mouth,” Jo Carson says. “I write performance material no matter what else the pieces get called, and whether they are for my voice or other characters’ voices … they are first to be spoken aloud.” Following an oral tradition that has strong roots in her native Tennessee, the author of Teller Tales invites the reader to participate in events in a way that no conventional history book can.

Both stories in this book are set in East Tennessee in the mid-eighteenth century and share certain characters. The first narrative, “What Sweet Lips Can Do,” recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and the battle of King’s Mountain, a tide-turning battle in the American Revolution. “Men of Their Time” is an exploration of white-Cherokee relationships from early contact through the time of the Revolution.

Although not well known to the outside world, the stories recounted in Teller Tales are cornerstones in the heritage of the Appalachian region and of American history. In ways that will appeal to young and old alike, Jo Carson’s irreverent telling will broaden the audience and the understanding for the stories of native Americans, settlers, explorers, and revolutionaries of early America.

Picture of Jo Carson

Jo Carson is a writer and performer from Johnson City, Tennessee. She is the author of The Last of the “Waltz Across Texas” and Other Stories, Stories I Ain’t Told Nobody Yet, and Spider Speculations.

Cover of 'Teller Tales'


  • Journal of Appalachian Studies, Vol. 17, 1 & 2, Spring & Fall 2011
  • Knoxville News-Sentinel; May 27, 2007
  • The Courier (TN Hist. Commission), Vol. XLV, No. 2, June 2007
  • Appalachian Heritage, Summer 2007
  • Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review, Vol. 35, No. 3, Spring 2008