“I placed a jar in Tennessee” is the first line of Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of the Jar,” a modernist poem written in 1918. Stevens’ canon of poetry typically explores the phenomenon of perception and the mind’s tendency to create its own reality. Anecdote of the Jar I placed a jarContinue Reading

From his window view my son seizes a ribbon of morning light that gives him excuse to pause, take measure of the ochre mist shrouding the still-dark presences of trees. He’s riddled in his chest by the sight of rocks splitting the sun’s head, now a wobble on the mountain’sContinue Reading

In my 2016 stage play Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story, I envision a scene at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, wherein union activist and songwriter Florence Reece and Civil Rights reformer Martin Luther King, Jr. are discussing ways for opposing violence. The exchange follows:Continue Reading

Revisiting Myles Horton’s The Long Haul   The remarkable thing about Myles Horton is that he chose to be a person instead of a personality. As a rising young labor organizer and civil rights activist, Horton was surrounded by personalities – a cadre of forward looking, socially attuned recruits, someContinue Reading

Joel Agee, the son At age 41, Agee had suffered the first of two heart attacks, the second of which would kill him when he was just forty-six, having recently completed his novel A Death in the Family before his death. Agee was contemptuous of moderation, insisting on living lifeContinue Reading

James Agee, the father I’ll start with a blanket statement: Most, if not all, writers are SOBs (including women authors). Take William Faulkner, for example, whose drinking bouts were legendary and whose daughter, on the occasion of her tenth birthday, begged Faulkner to stop drinking for just one day. ToContinue Reading

**On a mobile format this book review is best viewed using landscape orientation.    Danita Dodson is a contemplative, a mystic, and an alchemist whose feet are planted solidly in the turf of the natural world – particularly that of East Tennessee. As the poems in her debut collection, TrailingContinue Reading

We Southerners cherish our “characters” – eccentrics and outliers who intensify the spiciness of life. Take William Faulkner. To his neighbors in Oxford, Mississippi, Faulkner was “count no count,” a little bitty fellow who put on airs while sporting a limp and a cane and donning a cape for hisContinue Reading

Losing him at the instant of diagnosis, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind but hers, his grandmother watched You wink from view until no more than a grainy dot on the horizon’s last glorious performance of the Great Withdrawal. The picture of a small girl insisting on her way thisContinue Reading

“Only one thing in my life has been constant: my interest in words. I should say “devotion” to words – for it has been a devotion, rarely known, I suspect, except among the more megalomaniacally linguistic lovers who have always come to people by way of words rather than theContinue Reading