Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

George Scarbrough

"At the Last Festival"

September 8, 2011 Near the end of his writing life George Scarbrough (1915-2008) used an alter ego, writing in the voice of the legendary eighth-century Chinese poet, Han-shan, whose poems were simple, direct, and frank, never failing to call attention to the flaws in society as he saw them. Writing in the voice of Han-shan gave Scarbrough the means to speak directly about the social abuses he saw around him but could not address so clearly in his own first-person voice. “At the Last Festival” appears in Under the Lemon Tree, a new, posthumously published collection of Scarbrough’s Han-shan poems. Robert Cumming, the book’s editor, will discuss George Scarbrough and his work at the 2011 Southern Festival of Books, held October 14-16 in Nashville.

Read more

I Yam What I Yam

A poet considers the way a family shapes the soul—in both good and terribly bad ways

September 7, 2011 George Scarbrough (1915-2008) was born the third of seven children in in a clapboard cabin in Patty, a small community in Polk County, Tennessee. Strongly influenced by his literate mother, he was an avid reader from his earliest years and studied at Lincoln Memorial University, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the University of the South in Sewanee. As farmer, librarian, and teacher he lived his entire life in East Tennessee, for many years in Oak Ridge. His poetry was published widely in magazines and journals, and he is the author of five books of poems and one novel, all of which established his position as a major figure in American literature. This essay was first published in Touchstone, a publication of Humanities Tennessee, in 1986. Under the Lemon Tree, a new collection of previously unpublished poems by George Scarbrough, will appear this fall from Iris Press. Robert Cumming, the editor of the collection, will discuss George Scarbrough and his work at the 2011 Southern Festival of Books, held October 14-16 in Nashville.

Read more

"Presence"

September 7, 2011 George Scarbrough (1915-2008) was born the third of seven children in in a clapboard cabin in Patty, a small community in Polk County, Tennessee. Strongly influenced by his literate mother, he was an avid reader from his earliest years and studied at Lincoln Memorial University, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the University of the South in Sewanee. As farmer, librarian, and teacher he lived his entire life in East Tennessee, for many years in Oak Ridge. His poetry was published widely in magazines and journals, and he is the author of five books of poems and one novel, all of which established his position as a major figure in American literature. Under the Lemon Tree, a new collection of previously unpublished poems by George Scarbrough, will appear this fall from Iris Press, and Robert Cumming, the book’s editor, will discuss George Scarbrough and his work at the 2011 Southern Festival of Books, held October 14-16 in Nashville.

Read more