Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Sarah Webster Fabio (1928-1979)

Well ahead of the connections that grew between music and poetry during the hip-hop era, several generations of African-American poets drew on musical influences in their works. The writers associated with the politically oriented Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s were especially active in this regard, joining spoken words with blues and jazz…

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William Clark Falkner (1825-1889)

Born on July 6, 1825 in Knox County, Tennessee, Falkner served in the Mexican War. When the Civil War began, Falkner raised a company of men and was made colonel in the Second Mississippi Infantry. Wounded at First Manassas, he was dropped at the April 1862 reorganization and election of officers. Later in the War,…

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Jesse Hill Ford (1928- 1996)

Jesse Hill Ford was born in Troy, Alabama. In 1932, Ford’s father took a job with Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company, and the family moved to Nashville. Ford attended Montgomery Bell Academy, where he wrote for the school newspaper and edited the school annual during his senior year. Ford enrolled at Vanderbilt University in 1947, where he…

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Frances Gaither (1918 – 1955)

When a writer is labeled a “Southerner,” he is given an identity; he is linked to his region in a way that the Northerner or Easterner or Westerner is not. Flannery O’Conner once said that Southern writers are “stuck with” being Southern. If so, then the fact of Southern history that they’re stuck with is…

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Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)

Caroline Gordon was born into the Kentucky line of the extensive Meriwether family in 1895. Exploration of the family’s past and its evolution is a major theme of her fiction. She grew up at Merry Mont in Todd County, near Clarksville. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethany College in 1916. Gordon taught…

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Richard M. Gunn (1904-1995)

Tennessee folklorist and humorist Richard M. Gunn, more commonly known as “Pek” Gunn, born in Pinewood in Hickman County, was appointed Poet Laureate of Tennessee in 1971, and held the position until 1994. Married early to Frances Thompson, he furthered his patronage as a Tennessean. He became a member of ASCAP (American Society Composers, Authors,…

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