Every summer the School of Letters invites writers, poets, publishers and scholars to speak each week that school is in session. All readings and lectures take place at Gailor Auditorium unless otherwise noted, and a reception usually follows upstairs in the atrium. The public is welcome. Events held outside of Sewanee are also listed here.
MFA Candidate Reading, Wednesday, July 16, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. Student Farewell Dinner follows. (photo of Maggie Blake by Mary Stafford)
July 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm
National Geographic Writer and VQR contributing editor Neil Shea will lead a conversation on nonfiction writing and publishing with editors Paul Reyes of the Virginia Quarterly Review, Leigh Anne Couch of The Sewanee Review, and Bruce Falconer of The American Scholar.
Neil Shea is a veteran journalist whose work—published in such venues as The Providence Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and The American Scholar—literally spans the globe, often covering military or environmental issues. Shea has been embedded with US troops in Iraq and interviewed a Taliban commander in Afghanistan; he has explored Mexico’s crystal cave, visited Madagascar’s remote stone forest, and reported on shrinking sea ice in the Arctic sea. An editor-at-large for the Virginia Quarterly Review and a former staff writer for National Geographic, Shea has been honored with gold and silver Lowell Thomas Awards for stories on Ethiopia and Cuba, and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Overseas Press Club Award. Shea has taught courses in journalism and nonfiction writing at Boston University and at Furman University. You can follow Neil Shea on Instagram @neilshea13.
Leigh Anne Couch is the managing editor of the Sewanee Review. Her poems have appeared in the Western Humanities Review,Shenandoah, Salmagundi, Gulf Coast Review, Cincinnati Review,Carolina Quarterly, and other journals. Her chapbook, Green and Helpless was published by Finishing Line Press, and her first book, Houses Fly Away, was winner of the Zone 3 Press First Book Award. She lives in Tennessee with the writer Kevin Wilson and their sons, Griff and Patch.
Bruce Falconer is the senior editor of The American Scholar, a national, general-interest magazine based in Washington, D.C., where he assigns and edits nonfiction features and book reviews. He was previously a staff writer at Mother Jones and, for six years, an editor at The Atlantic. At the Scholar, he has worked with a broad range of accomplished writers, such as William Deresiewicz, Jan Morris, Neil Shea, Lincoln Caplan, and Ingrid Rowland, among many others. As a writer, his work has taken him around the world—to Switzerland, where he wrote about the phenomenon of “suicide tourism”; to the remote Canadian archipelago of Haida Gwaii, site of the largest and most controversial “geoengineering” experiment in history; and to Chile, where he pieced together the story of Colonia Dignidad, a German religious commune that, in the 1970s, tortured and murdered political dissidents for Augusto Pinochet. His piece about the commune ("The Torture Colony," The American Scholar, Autumn 2008) was a finalist for the Livingston Award in the category of international reporting. More recently, he as an Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Berlin, Germany, where he worked for Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin’s largest daily newspaper. His piece about the closure of Tacheles, an avant-garde artists collective in Berlin, was a finalist for the Arthur F. Burns Award.
Paul Reyes is the Deputy Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and is the author of Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida’s Great Recession(2010). “Opportunity Knocks,” his essay about the Miami organization Take Back the Land published in the Fall 2009 issue of VQR, was a finalist for a Harry Chapin Media Award. Another essay about the housing crisis in Florida was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. He is married to photographer and designer Ellen Reyes.
Wednesday, July 9, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.
July 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm
A film about the Chatham Islands from Luke Padgett, Sewanee C'07 and current MFA student at the School of Letters.
The Chatham Islands are remote. Their isolation is made by the ocean. Colonists came to carve a livelihood from the elements. Much has changed. For some, the journey began after they arrived. Home can be hard to find, even when you're already there. Those colonists have become something new.
Monday July 7 at 8:00 pm. Free admission, Sewanee Union Theater, 45 minutes.
July 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Michael Griffith's books are Trophy, Bibliophilia: A Novella and Stories and Spikes: A Novel; his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Salmagundi, Oxford American, Southwest Review, Five Points, Virginia Quarterly Review, Golf World, and The Washington Post, among other periodicals. His work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Taft Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Michael Griffith was educated at Princeton and Louisiana State University. Formerly Associate Editor of the Southern Review, he is now Associate Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and Fiction Editor of the Cincinnati Review. He is also the Editor of Yellow Shoe Fiction, an original-fiction series from LSU Press.
David Huddle holds degrees from the University of Virginia, Hollins College, and Columbia University. Originally from Ivanhoe, Virginia, he taught for 38 years at the University of Vermont, then served three years as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. He also held the 2012-2013 Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Huddle has continued to teach at the Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton, Vermont, and the Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Huddle’s work has appeared in The American Scholar, Esquire, Appalachian Heritage, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Shenandoah, Agni, Poetry, Story, and The Georgia Review. His novel, The Story of a Million Years (Houghton Mifflin, 1999) was named a Distinguished Book of the Year by Esquire and a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. His novel, Nothing Can Make Me Do This, won the 2012 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction and his collection, Black Snake at the Family Reunion, was a finalist for the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Poetry and won the 2013 Pen New England Award for Poetry. His new book, The Faulkes Chronicle, is due out in September from Tupelo Press.
Wednesday, July 2, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.
July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Sign up at 6:30 pm, Game at 7 pm
June 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Join us as John Ernest leads a conversation about the Oxford American’s Tennessee Music issue, with its editor Roger Hodge, C’89, contributors Jaime Quatro and John Grammer. The Oxford American's 15th Annual Southern Music Issue and CD feature the music of Tennessee, and the work of several writers with a Sewanee connection including John Jeremiah Sullivan and John Grammer. Other articles focused on Sewanee figures like Tupper Saussy and Scott Bates, and the enclosed CD’s included Johnny Cash’s song “Monteagle Mountain.”
Hodge, Quatro and Grammer, along with frequent School of Letters faculty member John Ernest, will discuss the issue, the general subject of Southern music, and the value and challenge of writing about it.
Each year the magazine devotes one issue to the music of a Southern state.
"It was just a matter of time before we tackled Tennessee,” says Hodge, “and we thought it was the right time. It's, in some ways, the big one. It's where all of American music comes together." The issue featured articles about well-known musicians such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Isaac Hayes, about musical institutions like Stax Records and radio station WDIA, and personal memoirs by musicians like Rosanne Cash and Norbert Putnam. The accompanying CD’s included musical tracks related to the articles.
Copies of the issue will be on sale at the reading, which is open to all.
Roger Hodge is also the author of The Mendacity of Hope, and his essays have appeared in many publications, including Texas Monthly, the London Review of Books, Popular Science, Men's Journal, and Harper's Magazine, where he was editor in chief. He is writing a book about life in the West Texas borderlands.
Jamie Quatro is the author of the acclaimed debut story collection, I Want to Show You More. Her poem Protestant Worshipper in St. Joseph's Catherdral, San Antonio, Texas appears in the music issue.
John Grammer is a Professor of English at the University of the South and Director of the Sewanee School of Letters. He received his BA at Vanderbilt University and his PhD at the University of Virginia. His 1996 book Pastoral and Politics in the Old South won the C. Hugh Holman Award as the best book of the year in Southern literary study. His essay Tennessee Pastoral was featured in the Tennessee Music issue of the Oxford American. He is currently working on a book about the landmark year 1971.
John Ernest, a past faculty member of the School of Letters, is the author of Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861 (2004), Chaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History (2009), and A Nation Within a Nation: Organizing African American Communities before the Civil War (2011). His current book project is the Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of Delaware.
Wednesday, June 25, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium.
June 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Sponsored with The Friends of the duPont Library
Critic David Mikics is the author of Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, a practical guide for anyone who yearns for a more fulfilling reading experience. It reminds us of another mode of reading–the kind that requires our full attention and that has as its goal not the mere gathering of information but the deeper understanding that only good books can offer.
“There is much solid wisdom and penetrating advice in these pages. David Mikics is an inspired teacher, and he has brought his rich pedagogic imagination to life in this book, which teaches us to fall in love again with great literature.” – Phillip Lopate
Other books by David Mikics include The Annotated Emerson, The Art of the Sonnet, Who Was Jacques Derrida?: An Intellectual Biography, and A New Handbook of Literary Terms. He is currently at work on a forthcoming book from Norton in 2015 on Saul Bellow, called Bellow's People.
David Mikics grew up in Carteret, New Jersey and Atlanta. He attended NYU and earned a Ph.D. at Yale. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Victoria and son Ariel, and teaches every year at the University of Houston, where he is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English.
Wednesday, June 18, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.
June 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm
Jamie Quatro’s debut fiction collection, I Want To Show You More (Grove 2013), is a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. It was named a Top 10 Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker. The collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.
Quatro’s work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, AGNI, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, as well a 2013 fellowship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her stories are anthologized in the O.Henry Prize Stories 2013 and in the 9th edition of The Story and Its Writer (ed. Ann Charters). Quatro has also been long listed for the prestigious Frank O'Conner International Short Story Award.
Quatro holds graduate degrees from the College of William & Mary and the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and is a Contributing Editor at Oxford American magazine. She lives with her family in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
Praise for Quatro's stories from James Wood in The New Yorker: “Passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable . . . Moves between carnality and spirit like some . . . modernized Flannery O’Connor . . ."
Wednesday, June 11, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.
February 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm to February 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Meet author Adrianne Harun at our AWP table D35 in Seattle on Friday, February 28 at 3 pm. She'll be signing her just-released novel A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain which will be available for sale at the School of Letters table D35. Adrianne teaches fiction writing at the School of Letters and at Ranier Writing Workshops.
A Man Came Out of A Door in the Mountain is the seductive and chilling debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of The King of Limbo. In isolated British Columbia, girls, mostly native, are vanishing from the sides of a notorious highway. Leo Kreutzer and his four friends are barely touched by these disappearances—until a series of mysterious and troublesome outsiders come to town. Then it seems as if the devil himself has appeared among them. In this intoxicatingly lush debut novel, Adrianne Harun weaves together folklore, mythology, and elements of magical realism to create a compelling and unsettling portrait of life in a dead-end town. A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is atmospheric and evocative of place and a group of people, much in the way that Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones conjures the South, or Charles Bock’s Beautiful Children provides a glimpse of the Las Vegas underworld: kids left to fend for themselves in a broken world—rendered with grit and poetry in equal measure.
Praise for Adrianne Harun's A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain:
"In mesmerizing prose, debut novelist Harun spins a chilling tale shot through with both aching realism and age-old folktales, melding them together to capture a landscape lush with possibility and imagination and terrifying in its vast emptiness." Booklist (starred review)
“Harun creates a masterfully bleak and spooky mood and succinctly captures the desperation of the young people’s lives.” Publisher’s Weekly
“Through a complex narrative structure, Harun manages to invest all of her action…with an aura of myth and folk legend that raises it above the lurid and sensational.” Kirkus Reviews
“Harun’s mastery clearly lies in establishing atmosphere and mood. Much as it does to the novel’s characters, the gothic ambiance wraps around the reader and won’t let go.” Library JournalFebruary 28, 2014 at 10:00 am
Meet author Carol Cassella at our AWP table D35 in Seattle on Friday, February 28 at 10 am. She'll sign her new novel Gemini which will be available for sale. Carol is a practicing physician and national bestselling author of two novels, Oxygen (2008) and Healer (2010).
About Gemini: Across the Puget Sound in a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula an unidentified patient lies unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. In Seattle, ICU doctor Charlotte Reese receives a call: Jane Doe will be transferred to her care. But when the patient arrives—with only tubes keeping her alive—Charlotte has to dig through x-rays and MRIs to determine what went wrong on the operating table. Jane Doe’s condition is getting worse each day, and Charlotte finds herself becoming increasingly consumed by her patient’s plight—both medical and personal.
Who is this woman? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she never regains consciousness? As a doctor and a woman, Charlotte is forced to confront these issues head on—especially when her boyfriend Eric, a science journalist, becomes involved in the case. But the closer Charlotte and Eric get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. The key to unlocking Jane Doe’s secret is opening their hearts to their own feelings about life and death, love and marriage…and each other.
Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a vivid novel of moral complexity and emotional depth.
Early Praise for Gemini:
“A book at turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, it invites us to accept, if nothing else, that the only way to live is to “cling to every moment even as you [leap] into the next.” —Publishers Weekly
“Once again, Carol Cassella has written a novel full of gorgeously rendered characters, fascinating medical detail and tour de force plot twists. From its gripping first pages straight through to its stunning conclusion, Gemini is an unforgettable novel—a morality tale, a mystery, and a love story that will leave readers breathless.”
—Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go Bernadette?
“With big themes, an unforgettable setting, high stakes, mystery, suspense, heartbreak, human triumph, and rare insight, Gemini surprises and fascinates at every turn. Nobody writes about the miracle of the human organism like Carol Cassella. Gemini is a novel sure to keep readers flipping pages deep into the night.”
—Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here
"Carol, a practicing physician (an anesthesiologist), takes on a complex medical issue weaving a strong story from it. I loved it." —Bookreporter.com
A Note from Carol
Gemini was inspired by my own work as a doctor, witnessing the endless difficult decisions we have to make now that medical science has changed the natural course of trauma and disease, and the sometimes painful hindsight we are left to cope with. But I was driven to write this book now, at this point in my life, because I’ve reached that age at which too many friends and family are being diagnosed with cancer or heart disease. Now it’s my turn to go down that decision tree on a personal level, and it’s a lot harder!
Gemini was also inspired by my life as a parent of two sets of twins, one fraternal and one identical. Although I understood the biology of this just fine, well before I got these four unexpected blessings, raising my family has offered plenty of surprises. As much as we understand about human biology, as integral as it is to our fate, there will always be far more that remains unknown. As a happy consequence, writing fiction about factual science can make for marvelous mysteries.
February 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm to February 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm
Rendezvous with the School of Letters at AWP in Seattle at THE GROTTO on Wednesday, February 26, from 7 to 10 pm, for a soirée and reading with the charming Adrianne Harun, Carol Cassella, Leigh Anne Couch and Michael Griffith as well as other beguiling readers. The peerless team of Grammer and Alvarez will be hosting. Make your way to THE GROTTO: the speakeasy of the Rendezvous at 2322 Second Avenue, at 2nd and Bell in the heart of Belltown. You can click on directions here.
Join us at AWP at our table D35 later in the week when Adrianne signs her new novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, and Carol signs her new novel, Gemini.
October 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Rivendell Writers' Colony and the Sewanee School of Letters present Walker Percy: A Documentary Film by Win Riley on Friday, October 25, at 7 pm at Gailor Auditorium. A conversation and reception with Walker Percy's grandson, Jack Moores will follow. In a rare television interview in 1980, Walker Percy said his concerns as writer were with “a theory of man, man as more than organism, more than consumer––man the wayfarer, man the pilgrim, man in transit, on a journey.” Join us as we look at Percy’s own journey as it is framed as a narrative about his life and ideas.
Friday October 25 at 7 pm
Gailor Auditorium at the University of the South
July 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Kris Lester | Kelly WIlkinson | Hanry Langhorne | Billy Pullen | Kathryn Williams | Hanna McGrath | Kristin Wood | Matthew Hummer | Michael Grubb | Carly Gates | Dwight Gray | Donna Mintz | David Collins | Melissa Maye | Luke Padgett | Natalie Grant
July 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of Battleborn, one of the most enthusiastically acclaimed story collections in living memory. Watkins’ first book, it was made “best of the year” lists at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, and the American Library association, and on the same day won both The Story Prize and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Not surprisingly, The National Book Foundation named Watkins one of its “5 Under 35” Fiction Writers of 2012. A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. An assistant professor at Bucknell University and a former instructor at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, Watkins is also the co-director of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. Wednesday, July 10, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.
June 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Adrianne Harun's short fiction, essays, and book reviews have been published in numerous magazines and journals, including Story, the Chicago Tribune (as a Nelson Algren winner), Narrative Magazine, Ontario Review,The Sun, Willow Springs, and Colorado Review. Her first short story collection, The King of Limbo (Houghton Mifflin) was a Sewanee Writing Series selection and a Washington State Book Award finalist. Her work has also been included in several anthologies. A new novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, will be published by Viking/Penguin in early 2014.
A longtime resident of Port Townsend, Washington, Adrianne has worked as an editor for over twenty years, with projects ranging from literary fiction to computer language textbooks and topics in alternative medicine. Adrianne teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshops, an MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, and at the Sewanee School of Letters.
Charles Martin is equally accomplished as an original poet and as a student and translator of Latin verse. His works in the former category include Room for Error (1978), Steal the Bacon (1987), and What the Darkness Proposes (1996), and in the latter, both a translation of The Poems of Catullus (1995) and a critical study of that poet. In 2002 his Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems (2002) was a finalist for the Lemore Marshall Prize from the American Academy of Poets, and in 2004 his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses won that organization's Harold Morton Landon Award for translation. In 2005, the American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him with the coveted Award for Literature. His most recent books are Signs & Wonders, a new collection of poems, and a collaborative translation (with Gavin Flood) of the Bhagavad Gita. Charles Martin received his degrees from Fordham and the SUNY at Buffalo and has taught at the City University of New York and Syracuse University, as well as the Sewanee School of Letters and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
June 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Richard Tillinghast is the author of eleven books of poetry, including The New Life, Six Mile Mountain, Today in Café Trieste, and the most recent, Wayfaring Stranger. His poems have also appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New Yorker, Slate, and the Southern Review, and in anthologies ranging from The Best American Poetry to the Harcourt Brace Handbook of Creative Writing.
The versatile Tillinghast is also an accomplished critic (Poetry and What is Real, Robert Lowell’s Life & Work), travel writer (his recent An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul was nominated for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, awarded annually to a book that evokes the sense of place). With his daughter Julia Clare Tillinghast he has translated the work of Turkish poet Edip Cansever.
Tillinghast is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan and holds degrees from Harvard and the University of the South (which he has celebrated in his beloved poem “Sewanee When We Were Young” and other works). Wednesday, June 19, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.
June 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Andrew Hudgins will publish two new books in June of 2013. A Clown at Midnight is his ninth collection of poems; The Joker is a memoir of his career as an appreciator of, thinker about, and irrepressible teller of jokes. Hudgins’s eight previous books of poetry include Saints and Strangers (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), After the Lost War (winner of the Poets’ Prize), The Never-Ending (finalist for the National Book Award), Shut Up, You’re Fine: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children and American Rendering: New and Selected Poems. He’s also the author of two collections of literary essays, The Glass Anvil and Diary of a Poem. His work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stanford’s Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and Princeton’s Arthur C. Hodder Fellowship, and honored by prizes from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Hudgins is Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at the Ohio State University. He has often served on the faculties of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee School of Letters. Wednesday, June 12, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.
February 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Tuesday, February 19
1112 Woodland Avenue, Nashville
FREE, Reservations required at 615.262.5346
The Sewanee School of Letters and East Side Story present author Kevin Wilson and musician Amanda Shires at Rumours East in Nashville on Tuesday, February 19. Wilson will read from his sensational book The Family Fang or other original work followed by a musical performance by Amanda Shires.
East Side Story has partnered with Rumours East and WAMB 1200 AM/ 99.3 FM radio to present East Side Storytellin'—an evening of book readings, musical performances, and author/musician interviews designed to elaborate on the stories behind these creative processes. East Side Storytellin' is held at Rumours East, located at 1112 Woodland Street in East Nashville, the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. School of Letters student Chuck Beard, owner of East Side Story, hosts the event which is recorded by WAMB to air on the radio station the following Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Recordings of the show may also be found on East Side Story’s website www.eastsidestorytn.com. This event is FREE but space is limited. Reservations may be made by calling Rumours East at 615.262.5346.
July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Graduate students in the Sewanee School of Letters' MFA program will read: Maggie Blake (pictured), Billy Pullen, Cindie Miller, Darby Lyons, Ward Fleissner, Catherine Penney, Carly Gates, Dwight Gray, Kelly WIlkinson, Emelie Heltsey, and Matt Hummer. Photo: Mary Stafford
July 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Depending on whom you ask, Jane Borden is either an Arts and Entertainment magazine editor (primarily for Time Out New York), a journalist (in venues ranging from The New York Times Magazine to Modern Bride) a television writer (Saturday Night Live), and a stand-up comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central and VH-1. In fact she’s been all these things, and also a debutante, an undercover investigator, and the author of I Totally Meant to Do That, a comic memoir chronicling her adventures as a Southern girl set down in the wilds of Manhattan. Reviewers compared Borden to David Sedaris and even Mark Twain (“if you shaved the moustache, added lady-parts, and dropped him in present-day Manhattan, he’d end up writing this fabulous book,” said Ed Helms). The New York Times Magazine called it “lowbrow-brilliant.” Jane Borden grew up in North Carolina, attended the state university in Chapel Hill, and lived in New York for several years. Now she divides her time between there and Sewanee, where her husband Nathan Stogdill teaches at the University of the South. She’s hard at work adapting her memoir for a television series. Learn more about her at her web site: http://www.janeborden.com/.
July 2, 2012 at 5:00 am
For students only: Liz Van Hoose, Sewanee C'99, and Kevin Doughten are editors at Viking/Penguin. Liz is a fiction editor, and Kevin is a non-fiction editor and edited David Haskell's The Forest Unseen. These fabulous editors will bring word from book publishing's epicenter. They'll take your questions after a short presentation. Photo: Mary Stafford
June 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm
David Haskell is Professor of Biology at the University of the South, where he teaches courses in Ornithology, Evolutionary Biology, and Biodiversity. The author or co-author of many scientific papers in these disciplines, Haskell has recently turned his hand to a very different kind of writing in The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, published in March of this year. A genuinely novel literary experiment, The Forest Unseen follows the life—plant, animal, and human—of a single square meter of Tennessee old-growth forest over the course of a year. This patch of ground—“the mandala,” Haskell calls it—becomes a window through which the usually invisible occurrences of nature can be revealed as stories, revelations of the complex interrelationships connecting microorganisms, flora, fauna, and ourselves. The book is earning impressive reviews, the Wall Street Journal praising its “encompassing and generous vision,” and Kirkus, in a starred review, admiring the “extraordinary, intimate view of life” which it affords. The renowned naturalist E.O. Wilson calls The Forest Unseen “a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry.” For more information about Haskell, visit the web site for his book: : http://theforestunseen.com/ . Photo: Buck Butler.
June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Poet Danny Anderson’s work has appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, Harper’s, The New Republic, and Best American Poetry, among other places. He is the author of two poetry collections, Drunk in Sunlight and January Rain, and the editor of The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov. His honors include a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bogliasco Foundation. Educated at the University of Cincinnatti and The Johns Hopkins University, he is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon.
Holly Goddard Jones will have a new book out spring 2013: The Next Time You See Me. Her first novel, Girl Trouble, was published by Harper Perennial in 2009 to enthusiastic acclaim from oracles as diverse as Erin McGraw and O magazine. Her fiction has appeared in such journals as The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review and been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Best American Mystery Stories. A graduate of the University of Kentucky and the Ohio State University, she has taught at Denison University and Murray State University and now serves as Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Among her honors are the Peter Taylor Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. To learn more visit www.hollygoddardjones.com.
June 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Kevin Wilson, who grew up just a few miles from Sewanee, is the author of the acclaimed short story collection Tunnelling to the Center of the Earth and the even more acclaimed novel The Family Fang. Concerning the former, author Owen King wrote that “Kevin Wilson is the unholy child of George Saunders and Carson McCullers,” adding “Jesus Christ this guy is good.” It won the Shirley Jackson Award and the National Library Association’s prestigious Alex Award. And as for The Family Fang, it has been praised by People as “a wacky wonderful debut” and by The Wall Street Journal for covering “complex psychological ground.” “Wilson’s inventive genius never stops for a rest break,” adds National Public Radio—and now comes the news that actress Nicole Kidman has bought rights to The Family Fang and will star in the movie herself. Once a dorm counselor for the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, Wilson received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and his MFA from the University of Florida. He lives in Sewanee, where he serves as Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of the Creative Writing program. For more about Kevin Wilson, visit his website: www.wilsonkevin.com.
July 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm
David Wyatt is the author of several literary studies, a memoir, and a history of California. His writing in all these genres is characterized by its critical acumen and scholarly depth, its effortless interdisciplinarity and graceful prose, and by its willingness to surrender the scholar's mask of impersonality by foregrounding the critic's own life and experience. Reviewers found The Fall Into Eden, a literary history of his native state, "an elegant, graceful, and moving book, a kind of hymn to California," and they pronounced Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation "an uncanny, indispensable dialogue on the vexed relationship between art and society." The same virtues are on display in Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California, (an "elegiac salute to California, our strangest, saddest, most enchanting state") and his memoir of 9/11 and its aftermath, And the War Came (a work of "truly astonishing storytelling, an unprecedented combination of autobiography and reflective essay"). His newest is Secret Histories, an overview of modern American fiction from Frank Norris to Phillip Roth, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy. David Wyatt has taught at the University of Virginia and is now Professor of English at the University of Maryland; he has won awards for teaching and scholarship at both institutions.
July 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm
Nick Flynn's works include two memoirs (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment), two poetry collections (Some Ether and Blind Huber), and a play (Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins). His new book of poetry, The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, will be published in 2011. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for poetry, and a fellowship from the Library of Congress. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times Book Review, and NPR's This American Life. "Flynn's authentic voice," reports The Village Voice, "holds us rapt, keeping both the tragic and the redemptive possibilities open." He has worked as a ship's captain, an electrician, and a case-worker at a homeless shelter, and currently teaches at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program each spring. He has also served as the "field poet" on the Academy Award-nominated film Darwin's Nightmare. His own best-known book, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, will soon be a major motion picture. To learn more, visit Nick Flynn's website: www.nickflynn.org.
June 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm
Texas native Radney Foster is well known to Sewanee audiences, having graduated from the college and returned often to visit and play. As a performer he formed half of the successful duo “Foster and Lloyd” in the 1980’s, then went solo in 1992 with the release of Del Rio, TX, 1959. That record has been followed, so far, by seven others, including Labor of Love, Are You Ready for the Big Show?, and most recently, Revival. As a songwriter he is responsible for such songs as “Nobody Wins,” “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “I’m In,” and others, hits for himself and for such artists as Keith Urban, the Dixie Chicks, and Sara Evans, who calls him “one of the most talented singer/songwriters of our time.”
Darden Smith, another Texan, has been recording since 1986, with 13 albums to his credit now. Records such as Native Soil, Sunflower, Extra, Extra, and the recent Marathon have won commercial success and critical praise in both Britain and the United States. Sometimes likened to John Hiatt, Leonard Cohen, and Elvis Costello, Smith has been called (by the All Music Guide) “a singer-songwriter blessed with an uncommon degree of intelligence, depth, and compassion.”
July 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm
A native of Dallas, Texas, David Hudgins was educated at Duke University and the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. After working as a trial and appellate lawyer at a Dallas firm for eight years, he gave up the law to pursue screenwriting, eventually the feature screenplay Scottsboro to LeVar Burton’s Eagle Nation Films. Since moving with his family to Los Angeles, he has worked on the television series Everwood and, for four seasons, as both screenwriter and Executive Producer of the acclaimed series Friday Night Lights. The program won the prestigious Peabody Award for Excellence in Television Broadcasting in its freshman season, and Mr. Hudgins has received three nominations for a Writers’ Guild Award for his work on it. In 2009 he created Past Life, a one-hour drama series for Warner Brothers Television and the Fox Network, and now serves as Showrunner and Executive Producer for the program.
June 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm
Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, where he teaches courses in modern Comparative literature as well as British and American Fiction. He is the author of six critical books, including The Semantics of Desire: Changing Models of Identity from Dickens to Joyce, Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction, and three splendid books concerning William Faulkner: Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns, What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison, and, just last year, Becoming Faulkner. Recipient of several National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, Professor Weinstein is a former president of the William Faulkner Society.
January 16, 2010 at 4:30 pm
Dallas native Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986. She practices anesthesia in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. Her first novel, Oxygen, was published in 2008 to strong reviews. To The Denver Post it was “the work of a writer who is in full command of her craft,” to The Seattle Times “a strong first novel,” and to Susan Wiggs in WRITERS ARE READERS.COM, “a haunting debut novel…a story of tragedy and redemption, intricately plotted and told in a compelling voice.” Cassella lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and their two sets of twins. Her second novel, Healer, is due out in July of this year.
July 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm
Stewart O'Nan is the indefatigably prolific author of the recently published Songs for the Missing, the recently filmed Snow Angels, and twelve other books. These include Last Night at the Lobster (about an unsuccessful seafood restaurant), A Prayer for the Dying (about a diphtheria epidemic in 19th-century Wisconsin), The Names of the Dead (about a Vietnam veteran and his problems), The Speed Queen (about a condemned serial killer writing to her favorite author, Stephen King) and Faithful (a non-fiction account of the 2004 baseball season which O'Nan co-wrote with none other than Stephen King, a friend and fellow Boston Red Sox fan). O'Nan is not, in other words, one of those writers who has only one story to tell and tells it over and over. Rather, his distinction (apart from the steady regularity with which he produces new books) is his remarkable ability to imagine lives radically unlike his own and unlike one another. O'Nan does find himself drawn to everyday people (Everyday People is, in fact, the title of one of his novels) and, according to a reviewer for the The New York Times, to "the terrors of everyday life-nightmares, violent crimes, wars-as a channel to the most intimate reaches of the human mind." Or, as a writer for The Boston Globe once put it, "O'Nan's gift has always been to make us look beyond the pretty picture, straight into the eye of the human condition." His works have been named "Notable Books of the Year" by the American Library Association and the New York Times, have been awarded the William Faulkner Prize and the Due Heinz Prize for Literature, and won him recognition as one of Granta magazine's 20 Best Young American Novelists. A graduate of Cornell University, he has taught there and at Trinity College and, in a previous career as an aerospace engineer, once worked on the Space Shuttle. Please visit http://stewart-onan.com/ (and countless other web sites) for more information about Stewart O'Nan and his work.
June 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm
Patricia Smith is the author of five books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and one of NPR's top five books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and About.com's Best Poetry Book of 2006. She also authored the ground-breaking history Africans in America and the award-winning children's book Janna and the Kings. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and many other journals, and has been performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam's Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. She is a Pushcart Prize winner, a Cave Canem faculty member and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition's history. She is on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.
July 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm
Timothy Steele is the author of five books of poetry, including Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems, The Color Wheel, and most recently Toward the Winter Solstice. He is equally well-known for his two important books on the place of meter in English verse: Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt Against Meter and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification. He has also edited The Poems of J.V. Cunningham and contributed articles and reviews to such journals as The Southern Review, The Los Angeles Times, and Modern Fiction Studies, and to The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry and The Cambridge Companion to Robert Frost. His work has been recognized by, among other honors, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the SouthwestReview’s Elizabeth Matchett Stover Award, and the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets.
June 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm
Eric J. Sundquist is UCLA Foundation Professor of Literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, having previously served on the faculties of Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and the University of California at Berkeley. Among his eight books on American Literature are several indispensable classics of the field: Home as Found: Authority and Genealogy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Faulkner: The House Divided, and To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. He is also the co-author of Volume 2 of the Cambridge History of American Literature, the editor of several essay-collections and anthologies, and the former editor of the Cambridge University Press book series in American Literature and Culture. Sundquist is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2006 he was one of four recipients of the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award, known as “the richest prize in the humanities.”
June 17, 2008 at 4:30 pm
Ted Leeson studied physics at Marquette University and English literature at the University of Virginia, where he received his PhD in 1984. Since then he has taught literature and creative writing courses at Oregon State University, where he holds the rank of Senior Instructor. In the mean time he has emerged as one of the most eloquent personal essayists now at work, one whose work is often compared to that of Montaigne, Thoreau, Wendell Berry and Annie Dillard. This is all the more remarkable since, unlike Montaigne and the rest, Leeson writes mainly about fly-fishing. He has published essays and journalism in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Field and Stream, Fly Rod and Reel, and other magazines, and is the author of two well-received books, Jerusalem Creek and The Habit of Rivers. In 2007 Fly Rod and Reel magazine named him “Angler of the Year.”
July 12, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Claire Messud's first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and her second,The Last Life, was a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year and an Editor's Choice at The Village Voice. They were followed by The Hunters, a collection of novellas, also a PEN/Faulkner finalist. All three books were New York Times Notable books of the Year. Her most recent book, The Emperor’s Children, has confirmed her reputation as one of the most accomplished young novelists in the United States by winning remarkable reviews and sales since its publication in August, 2006. Claire Messud has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Radcliffe Fellow, and a visiting writer at both Amherst and Sewanee, and is the current recipient of the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
July 9, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Christopher Camuto is the author of three non-fiction books on the human and natural history of the southern Appalachian mountains: A Fly-Fisherman's Blue Ridge, Another Country: Journeying Toward the Cherokee Mountains, and Hunting From Home: A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has published journalism in National Geographic and poetry in The Sewenee Review. Holder of the Ph.D. in English from the Unversity of Virginia, he teaches creative writing and American and Native American literature at Bucknell University.
July 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Jason Sommer holds degrees from Brandeis, Stanford (where he held the Mirrielees Fellowship in Poetry), and St. Louis University and has taught there, and at University College, Dublin. He has published three poetry collections (Lifting the Stone, Other People's Troubles, and The Man Who Sleeps in My Office) and the translator of three novellas by Wang Xiabobo. His verse has appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and other magazines, and in several anthologies, including The New American Poets. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and the coveted Whiting Foundation Writers' Award, he has served since 1985 as Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Fontbonne University.
June 26, 2007 at 4:30 pm
A scholar of Southern and African American Literature, William Andrews is the author of The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt and the acclaimed To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography. Among his many edited works are The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, and The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology. He also edits North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920, a massive digitized library which aspires to collect every American slave biography or autobiography. His most recent project has been to discover, edit, and re-publish Julia Collins's The Curse of Caste, the first novel published by an African American woman. William Andrews is the E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, where he also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities.
June 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Marjarie Garber is one of the most prolific and versatile scholars of her generation, the author or editor of books on dogs (Dog Love), houses (Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses), American Religion (One Nation Under God?). the Rosenberg Trial (Secret Agents), and many other topics. But she is best known for her scholarship on Shakespeare including the recent and award-winning Shakespeare After All, which distilled her thirty years of teaching a legendary course at Harvard and Yale. Her essays and journalism have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other magazines and newspapers. Marjorie Garber serves as president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, as a senior trustee of the English Institute, and as William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University.
June 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm
When James Wood's first book of criticism, The Broken Estate, appeared in 1999, it became common to call the thirty-four-year old author "the best literary critic of his generation." His admirers have included Susan Sontag, Harold Bloom, Cynthia Orick and Saul Bellow, with whom Wood taught a class at Boston University. He solidified his reputation with a second book of critical essays, The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel, and diversified it by writing a highly-praised novel, The Book Against God. James Wood serves as an editor of both The New Republic and The Kenyon Review and writes regularly for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books. He serves as Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard.
July 14, 2006 at 3:00 pm
John Hollander is simultaneously one of the leading poets and one of the most significant literary scholars of his generation. His poetic career was launched when W.H. Auden chose him for the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1958, for A Crackling of Thorns, his first book. Since then he has published seventeen more books of poetry, including Types of Shape, Spectral Emanations, Powers of Thirteen, Tesserae, and Picture Window. His works of literary criticism include Rhyme’s Reason, The Work of Poetry, and others. As a scholarly editor he prepared the Library of America volumes Nineteenth-Century American Poetry and the Henry James: Complete Stories, among many others. His honors include the Bollingen Prize and a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”
July 10, 2006 at 4:30 pm
Since 1980 Wyatt Prunty has published seven books of poetry, including What Women Know, What Men Believe, The Run of the House, Since the Noon Mail Stopped, and, most recently, Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems. He is also the author of the acclaimed critical book Fallen From the Symboled World: Precedents for the New Formalism. His poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Yale, Southern, Sewanee, and Kenyon Reviews, among other places. He has been the recipient of a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins University (where he held the Elliot Coleman Chair), Washington and Lee University, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; currently he serves as Carleton Professor of English at the University of the South, where he also directs the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
July 6, 2006 at 8:00 pm
Franklin Burroughs is one of the most distinguished writers of Creative Nonfiction at work today. He is the author of two books and many essays, both personal and academic. Billy Watson’s Croker Sack (1992), a collection of essays about the outdoors, was published in 1991; it was selected as an Editor’s Choice by The Book of the Month Club, was reprinted by the Quality Paperback club, and was translated into Japanese. Horry and the Waccamaw, a nonfiction narrative, was published in 1992 and reprinted in paperback (as The River Home) the following year. His essays have been published in Harper’s, Backpacker, Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review, and many other magazines, and have been reprinted in Best American Essays and The Norton Anthology of Nature Writing. His work has been honored by a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and by the Editor’s Prize, given for the best essay published in The American Scholar for 2003. A graduate of the University of the South, Franklin Burroughs took the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard and served as Professor of English at Bowdoin College until his retirement in 2002.
June 29, 2006 at 4:30 pm
Manette Ansay began writing as a New Year's resolution on January 1, 1988 and published her first novel, Vinegar Hill, in 1994. Since then she has published three more novels (Sister, River Angel, and Midnight Champagne) a story-collection, Read This and Tell Me What it Says, and a memoir, Limbo. She's been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Friends of American Writers Prize, and two Great Lakes Book Awards, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1999 Oprah Winfrey chose Vinegar Hill as her November Book Club Selection. Manette Ansay has taught at Vanderbilt University, Warren Wilson College, and the University of the South, and is currently Associate Professor of English at the University of Miami. Her newest book, the novel Blue Water, will be published this spring.
June 8, 2006 at 8:00 pm
John Irwin is equally distinguished as a poet and as a scholar of American and Comparative Literature. His major scholarly works are Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner, American Hieroglyphic: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance, and A Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytical Detective Story, which won both the Christian Gauss Prize from Phi Beta Kappa and the Aldo Scaglione Prize from the Modern Language Association. He has also published, under the pen name John Bricuth, three books of poetry: The Heisenberg Variations, Just Let Me Say This About That, and As Long as It's Big. Formerly the editor of The Georgia Review, John Irwin was for many years the chairman of the famous Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University, where he still teaches as Decker Professor in the Humanities.