Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Far Out

A Chapter 16 writer remembers the first moon landing

I happened to be at an afternoon performance under the tent on July 20, 1969, when the conductor suddenly halted the orchestra in mid-flight, turned to the audience, and shouted in a joyful voice, “I’ve just been informed that the Americans have landed on the moon!” Then he turned to the orchestra and whipped it into the Star-Spangled Banner.

Read more

“When the Dust Settles”

Bill Brown grew up in West Tennessee ten miles from the Mississippi River. He is the author of eight poetry collections and a writing textbook. Formerly the director of the writing program at Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville, he was named a Distinguished Teacher in the Arts in 1995 by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and the 2011 Writer of the Year by the Tennessee Writers Alliance. His latest book is The News Inside. “When the Dust Settles” is from his 2008 collection, Late Winter.

Read more

Teaching and Unteaching—and Entertaining All the Way

For more than three decades, Patricia McKissack has been writing children’s books that bring to life the stories, and the truth, of her ancestors

As she was coming of age in Nashville in the 1950s, there were many places award-winning children’s author Patricia McKissack was not allowed to go. She remembers hotels and restaurants that forbade African Americans entry, and movie theaters with a separate doorway in the alley for black patrons. The farthest reaches of the Grand Ole Opry’s balcony, known as the buzzard’s roost, was the only seating open to African Americans, McKissack recalls. She never partook: “My grandfather said that watermelons would bloom in January if any of his children went down there. ‘We don’t sit in no buzzard’s roost,’ he said. ‘We’re human beings, not buzzards.'”

Read more

Rugged Country

Min Jin Lee discusses identity, diaspora, and resistance in her novel Pachinko

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, a finalist for the National Book Award, follows a Korean family through four generations of migration, hardship, and survival, telling their interlocking stories in vivid detail. 

Read more

“Born Under the Sign Of”

Lisa Coffman, who grew up in East Tennessee, has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry. Her first collection of poetry, Likely, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University Press. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee. She teaches at the California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. “Born Under the Sign Of” is an excerpt from her new collection, Less Obvious Gods.

Read more

Dark Lantern

An author finds his own teenage ghost in a thrift-shop book

What I saw was not a dusty old book but a boy in a wheelchair by a window in a ramshackle house farther east in Tennessee—two hours away, on the Cumberland Plateau near Crossville.

Read more