Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Pablo Tanguay

Talking with the Dead

Like James Merrill’s Sandover trilogy, Rick Hilles’s new collection is a conversation with spirits

July 16, 2013 Like James Merrill’s Sandover trilogy, which critic Helen Vendler described as “a conversation with dead friends and spirits in another world,” Rick Hilles’s new book of poems invokes the dead, most dramatically by assuming their very personae. This poetic strategy may be the result of hubris or humility or both, but whatever it is, it works. The great strength of A Map of the Lost World, beyond its thematic gravity and masterful architecture, is its extraordinary writing. Rick Hilles will appear at the twenty-fifth annual Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 11-13. All festival events are free and open to the public.

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In Thrall to What’s Between the Margins

Short-story master Lee K. Abbott talks with Chapter 16 about an entire career spent reading, writing, and teaching

October 30, 2012 Between the 1980 publication of his first story collection, The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting, and the 2006 publication of his most recent, All Things, All at Once, Lee K. Abbott wrote some of the best short stories of his generation—hell, some of the best short stories of anybody’s generation. Set in the American Southwest and featuring a cast of male narrators who are both loquacious and vital, Abbott’s full-blooded tales earned the highest praise even as their style ran counter to the era’s minimalist chic. By the end of the century, Abbott—who recently retired from the M.F.A. program at Ohio State University, where he was a professor—was widely acknowledged as a master of the short story form. Lee K. Abbot will appear at two events this week at the University of Memphis. As part of the River City Writers’ Series, Abbott will read from his work October 30 at 8 p.m. in the University Center, Room 300 (River Room). A book signing will follow. He will hold an interview with students October 31 at 10:30 a.m. in Patterson Hall, Room 456. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Without Spin

R.A. Dickey, Nashville native and New York Mets knuckleballer, has written a redemption narrative that spares no detail about why he needed to be redeemed

April 11, 2012 In his new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball (written with New York Daily News sportswriter Wayne Coffey), R.A. Dickey recounts his struggles to make it in the major leagues, achieving real success only after he transformed himself from a conventional pitcher into a knuckleballer. Dickey parallels that story with his real subject: how finally confronting the trauma of being sexually molested as a child freed him from self-centeredness and shame. For Dickey, mastering the knuckleball went hand-in-hand with mastering his own demons. Dickey will discuss the book on April 12 at Franklin’s LifeWay Christian Store at 4 p.m. and at Nashville’s Books-A-Million at 7:30 p.m.

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Searching for the Poet Laureate of Music Row

In a new essay collection edited by Charlotte Pence, contemporary song lyrics finally earn the scrutiny of scholars

March 19, 2012 From the time of Homer to the Renaissance, poetry and song were inexorably linked. According to The Poetics of American Song Lyrics, a collection of essays edited by Knoxvillian Charlotte Pence, it’s this shared history that explains why much of the poetic tradition remains embedded in popular songs. To demonstrate, Pence herself, in an essay titled “The Sonnet Within the Song: Country Lyrics and the Shakespearean Sonnet,” compares the structure of several hit country songs to that of the traditional sonnet.

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What a Poem Leaves Out

Marvin Bell talks with Chapter 16 about what makes poetry different from prose

February 15, 2012 Marvin Bell has written twenty-three books of poems and taught for more than forty years at The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but he is hardly slowing down. In 2011 alone, he published a new book of poems (Vertigo: The Living Dead Man Poems), a children’s book (A Primer about the Flag), and a collaboration with the photographer Nathan Lyons (Whiteout). He also frequently performs his poems with musicians, including jazz bassist Glen Moore and his own son, the Tennessee-based singer/songwriter Nathan Bell. Marvin Bell will read from his work on February 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Tom Jackson Building on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The event is free and open to the public.

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The Bruce Springsteen of American Poetry

Robert Pinsky, America’s preeminent Man of Letters, talks with Chapter 16 prior to his Chattanooga appearance next week

February 2, 2012 Poet, translator, critic, professor: these are former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s day jobs. After hours, he also writes the poetry column for Slate, appears on television shows like The Simpsons and The Colbert Report, performs with jazz bands, and has shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen. If America can claim a Public Man of Letters, Pinsky is it. He will give a free public lecture, “The Value of the Arts and Humanities in Education and Society,” sponsored by the University of Tennessee and the Benwood Foundation in Chattanooga, on February 7 at 7 p.m. in the Roland Hayes Auditorium of the UTC Fine Arts Building. The event is free and open to the public.

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