Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

A Right Guy

In Robert Olen Butler’s Late City, America’s last surviving WWI soldier reports his life story to God

In Late City, Robert Olen Butler imagines a deathbed dialogue between God and a 115-year-old man who happens to be America’s last surviving veteran of World War I. Butler will discuss Late City at the online 2021 Southern Festival of Books.

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Hook On

Grandmother and I were entwined forever in Daddy’s strong script

They unfurled the family treasure. We all sighed at the sight of hooked leaves underfoot. My grandfather kicked the corner over with his block of a shoe and there it was — documentation. Grandmother and I were entwined forever in Daddy’s strong script. She gave me a squeeze.

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The Miracle of Movement

A young dancer grapples with identity in The Archer

In Shruti Swamy’s novel The Archer, a young dancer named Vidya explores her identity as an artist and as a woman. She both conforms to and defies the traditional expectations of her gender and class, all while grappling with the desires of her body and mind and the raw ache of abandonment after the loss of her mother. Swamy will appear at a virtual session of the 2021 Southern Festival of Books.

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Always Graceful

Margaret Renkl discusses her new essay collection, Graceland, at Last

Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South collects 60 of Margaret Renkl’s essays for The New York Times. Her fascinating explanations of the natural world are the standouts, but she also weighs in with authority on politics and culture. Renkl will discuss the book at a free ticketed event held in Harpeth Hall’s Frances Bond Davis Theater in Nashville on September 14, at a virtual event hosted by Novel in Memphis on September 16, and at the online 2021 Southern Festival of Books.

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A Light on in the Mica Windows

Joy Harjo’s Poet Warrior illuminates her journey with words

Blending poetry and prose, Joy Harjo’s second memoir, Poet Warrior, braids her story of becoming an accomplished poet and modern Native woman — always guided by her ancestors in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation — into the larger context of Native history.

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One of the Healers

A tribute to Vereen Bell (1934-2021)

For more than 50 years, Vereen Bell served the Vanderbilt University community as a teacher, scholar, colleague, and mentor. His fellow Vanderbilt professor and longtime friend Mark Jarman shares a remembrance of Bell with Chapter 16.

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