Heads up people in Knoxville and Nashville. Poet, essayist, and now memoirist, Jim Minick, author of THE BLUEBERRY YEARS: A MEMOIR OF FARM AND FAMILY, is coming your way. Jim will be reading at Davis Kidd in Nashville’s Green Hills on Friday at 3:00 PM and at Carpe Librum in Knoxville on Saturday at 2:00 PM. Ron Rash eloquently states on the cover, “There is so much to praise in this beautifully written memoir, but what I admire most is Jim Minick’s utter lack of self-righteousness. In these pages we are given a wisdom that has, at its center, a quiet and abiding humility. What a fine, fine book THE BLUEBERRY YEARS is.” I second Ron Rash. Don’t miss a good reading from a great book! Mark your calendars. That’s:
Davis Kidd, Nashville, Friday, September 17 at 3:00 PM.
Carpe Librum, Knoxville, Saturday, September 18 at 2:00 PM.
Time to get back into the swing of things for fall. And time to get back to Five and Ten. I’ll be teaching creative nonfiction at Lincoln Memorial University this coming spring. My good buddy Jim Minick, who teaches at Radford University, sent me a list of fine books on writing creative nonfiction. I’ll share with you.
Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach, Story Press, 1998.
Creating Nonfiction by Becky Bradway and Doug Hesse, Bedford/St. Martins, 2009.
In Fact: Best of Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gukinds, WW Norton & Co., 2004.
Writing True by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz, Wadsworth Publishing, 2006.
Tell it Slant by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, McGraw-Hill, 2004.
Keep it Real: Everything You Need to Know about Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, by Lee Gutkind, reprint edition, WW Norton & Co., 2009.
Best American Essays, edited by Robert Atwan, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.
Thanks, Jim. Don’t eat too much on book tour!!!
Hope to see you at Dancing with the Gorilla! Check out Tuesday’s first all time on DWTG guest blog by Jim Minick!
Today’s list comes from Tomi Wiley, current president of the Tennessee Writers Alliance and editor and publisher of TWA’s quarterly newsletter. Tomi is also a newspaper editor and journalist, writing for two newspapers: Wilson Living magazine and www.countrymusicpride.com. And I’m excited to say Tomi is expanding one of her published short stories into a novel to be published by Canonbridge in mid-2011.
If you think that makes Tomi sounds busy enough, well there’s more. She is also a freelance editor and writing coach, and writes the blog Media, Motherhood & Mayhem, which you’ll find at http://twiley3ms.blogspot.com.
Tomi is a single mother of a brilliant four-year-old boy who is learning to read, which means she can no longer S-P-E-L-L what she doesn’t want him to know about.
When does this woman find time to read? I don’t know. But she does. Tomi is a force of nature. And here’s her beautifully eclectic list of ten recommended reads:
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
On Writing by Stephen King
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Packing Light by Marilyn Kallet
As a former TWA board member and a presenter at this year’s TWA WordFest at Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN on June 19th, I’m including a message from Tomi about WordFest with info about how you can participate.
I don’t know about you, but I am super excited about WordFest ’10, which is coming up June 19 – in just a few weeks! If you haven’t sent in your registration yet you have until June 1 to get the early discount. For your convenience, the registration for is on the TWA website at www.tn-writers.org. Visit this site for the downloadable form and more information.
Pleaes note the reception has been relocated to the Cumberland campus, which will be convenient and lovely. We look forward to some great workshops and networking opportunities, so send in your form soon and tell your friends! If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to email me.
Also, the deadline for submissions to the summer 2010 edition of The Tennessee Writer is July 1. Please email me with your article ideas or suggestions, and if you’d like to review a book please let me know. Feel free to send in photos (as high res JPEG attachments) of your corner of Tennessee or something pertaining to your writing. Again, feel free to contact me with questions, comments or suggestions.
If anyone would like to contact Tomi about her writing, editing, TWA, The Tennessee Writer, or WordFest ‘10, Tomi’s email address is TnWriterEditor@gmail.com.
Lastly, it’s Memoiral Day Weekend. I hope you have a great one. While you are busy at a cookout, or swimming at the lake, or taking a trip on this long weekend to visit family or see the some natural wonder, remember that this holiday was instituted to honor our veterans. Please give these brave men and women a though and thanks in the midst of this busy weekend.
I’m busy at work today cleaning and sorting and trying not to lose any ground with my anti-clutter campaign, which I began at the first of the year. I’ve just gone through the house dusting and tossing and putting things in their proper place. I’m referring here to areas I’ve already purged several times. I still have not cleaned off the top of the refrigerator or the upright freezer. I’m short. The tops of those appliances don’t bother me–if I don’t think about them or don’t need something that’s artfully stacked on top of them. After writing this post I’ll enter into the Twilght Zone, a.k.a my office, and see what’s hiding in there.
Sorting and purging can uncover things you love that you’ve forgotten about—out of sight, out of mind. The act of sorting and purging can also inspire. Ideas may begin to germinate as you find notes and articles you’ve forgotten about, books covered with dust. Maybe you made notes on a good idea and they are buried in the hurry and rush of everyday living and stacking, or maybe notes were tucked into the pages of a book you were reading at the time. Sometimes our best future emerges out of our rediscovered past. Continue Reading »
Today’s Five and Ten list comes from one of my favorite poets and a great friend, Michael Chitwood. Raised in Patrick County, Virginia, we hail from close the same stomping grounds, and met when we both lived in Chapel Hill, NC, where he and his family still reside. Chitwood received his BA from Emory and Henry and an MFA from University of Virginia, and claims George Wright as a major influence.
When I read Chitwood’s poetry, I hear the familiar sound, the intelligence, and the music of rural Virginia. Like novelist Larry Brown, Chitwood doesn’t not trade on stereotypes, but writes with respect about the lives of the working class. More recently his work has been more personal, as in my favorite of his collections, From Whence (LSU, 2007). His other collections include: Salt Works (1992), Whet (1995), The Weave Room (1998), Gospel Road Going (2002), and Spill (2007). He also has written two collections of essays: Hitting Below the Bible Belt (1998) and Finishing Touches (2006) Continue Reading »
Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions by Maurice Manning (Yale University Press, 2001) – These fine and wild poems took my breath away. I have a soft spot for first books anyway, but this remains my favorite Manning collection.
Love Song with Motor Vehicles by Alan Michael Parker (BOA Editions, 2003) – Alan’s grace with language, his smart and sensitive humor, his generosity (balanced with a gentle melancholy) and the risks he takes with these poems will make you want to carry this with you always.
Cooling Board: a Long Playing Poem by Mitchell L.H. Douglas (Red Hen Press, 2009) – Donnie Hathaway as you’ve never heard him and a collection of poems presented as a concept album, as Hathaway’s story, like all, has two sides. With alternate takes, guest vocals and a deeply spiritual understanding of the necessity and impact of music on the soul, Douglas singlehandedly reinvented rock & roll poetry with this volume. Continue Reading »
I’m ushering in National Poetry Month by sharing a list sent to me by my good friend and the former North Carolina Poet Laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer. Kay grew up in North Georgia. She received her MFA from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For years she’s lived in Cullowhee, NC. Her books include: Catching Light (LSU Press, 2002); Black Shawl (1998); Wildwood Flower (1992), which was the 1992 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest (1986), which was published in the Associated Writing Programs award series.
Kay’s other claim to fame is that she’s my husband’s favorite poet. Now let’s think about that a minute, shall we.
When I asked Kay if she wanted to say anything about National Poetry Month, since I was osting her list at the beginning of April, her response went like this: “Poetry shouldn’t be enjoyed for only one lousy month, even if it is April, the cruelist month–why poets like T.S. Eliot like it, I reckon. Every month should be poetry month.” Continue Reading »
Two great lists from two great writers!
Silas House says of his list: “Five Novels That I Believe Are Lessons in How to Be A Better Person (That I’ve Read in the Last Ten Years.) One of the main things I was thinking while writing ELI THE GOOD was that I wanted to have a character who was truly trying to be a better person and live by the Golden Rule. These books taught me how to be a better person by way of trying to be good to others. These are the books that I wish everyone would read.”
1) My Antonia, Willa Cather (Anyone who wants to be a writer need to only read this novel, as it is a thing of complete perfection)
2) Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (I can’t think of any other book that aches with beauty the way this one does. It absolutely changed my life.)
3) Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (very slow, but the whole thing is like a beautiful prayer)
4) Home, Marilynne Robinson (devastating in how wonderful it is; this book is all about a character who is living by the Golden Rule despite never receiving any rewards for it)
5) Abide With Me, Elizabeth Strout (I read this book during a time when I was really dealing with my ideas of faith and it helped me to understand that doubt is sometimes the most educating part of faith).
Lee Smith always lists her top ten book of the moment on her website on the page titled “Lee’s List.” Eli the Good by Silas House in on there, and when I asked her for her recommendations she said, “See the list on my sight. And I want to add that Eli the Good knocked my socks off!” Here’s Lee’s list:
- Serena, by Ron Rash
- Something’s Rising, by Silas House and Jason Howard
- Lark and Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips
- Emily’s Ghost, by Denise Giardina
- Costs, by Roxana Robinson
- Eli the Good, by Silas House
- A Sheltered Life, Ellen Glasgow
- Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan
- Olive Kitteredge, by Elizabeth Strout
- Going Away Shoes, by Jill McCorkle
And here’s the link: http://www.leesmith.com/leeslist/
PART ONE – FIVE AND DIME
I’m excited to tell you about a book debuting this week: Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South* (Motes Books, Louisville, KY, 2010), written by Dana Wildsmith. Dana is well-known as a poet, her most recent volume of poetry being One Good Hand (Iris Books, Oak Ridge, TN, 2005). This time out, Dana has crossed into the territory of nonfiction and made that transition from poetry to prose with a beautifully crafted collection of essays accumulating into a rich memoir that’s a joy to read. This book is about land, family, community, and the history and future of place and spirit. Continue Reading »
March is Women’s History Month, or, as my good friend and poet Jaki Shelton Green would say, Herstory Month. I can’t think of a better book to recommend to you for Women’s History Month than Never Seen the Moon: The Trials of Edith Maxwell by Sharon Hatfield, University of Illinois Press, 2005. Edith Maxwell was a pretty young teacher in Wise County, Virginia, accused of killing her abusive father with a high heel shoe. Her trial, and her story, became a watershed for issues of family abuse, women’s rights, and the flaws in the legal system, as well as the power of the media for good and ill. Novelist and short story writer Lee Smith says, “Sharon Hatfield’s Never Seen the Moon is a real page-turner of a book—I literally couldn’t put it down. Yet this whodunit of the first order also features impeccable research as well as clear and colorful writing. I believe it is the best book ever to come out of our corner of southwest Virginia—the most readable, the most comprehensive. Serious issues are dealt with here (women’s right, or the lack of them; the stereotypical images of Appalachia which appeared in the press; social, religious, and economic conditions in the coalfields; the legal system) but the human drama and mystery of the Edith Maxwell case makes this book read like a novel.”
Sharon Hatfield, a native of Wise County herself, like so many other recommenders to Five and Ten had a tough time deciding on just five titles, so she shares her list of six books she’d love other folks to read. Number 5 on the list, Blood Done Sign My Name, by Tim Tyson, is now a major motion picture, released last month. Here’s Sharon’s list:
1) Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
2) Grace: A Memoir, Mary Jo Cartledgehayes
3) Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos
4) The Alphabet versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image, Leonard Shlain
5) Blood Done Sign My Name, Timothy Tyson
6) Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Terry Tempest Williams
I first met JT Ellison at a writers’ lunch in downtown Nashville. This tall blonde came striding in a few minutes late, and all heads turned her way. I knew from the get-go she was someone to pay attention to, and not just because she was tall and blonde. I have since discovered JT is a wise and generous writer, meaning her success as a now best-selling “thriller chick” (her Twitter handle) hasn’t diminished her willingness to help other writers. For example, check Continue Reading »