Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Mixing Registers

Caki Wilkinson discusses her latest poetry collection, The Survival Expo

In The Survival Expo, poet Caki Wilkinson guides us through an exploration of what it means to survive our past without leaving it altogether, observing it from within but also with newfound perspective. Caki Wilkinson will discuss The Survival Expo at a virtual event hosted by Novel in Memphis on June 29.

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Poor, Forked Animals

In The Speaking Stone, Michael Griffith considers the contingent nature of existence

In The Speaking Stone, a collection of essays, Michael Griffith ambles among the gravestones of a Cincinnati cemetery to track the subtle ways history intersects with individuals. He reminds us, in light-hearted prose, that pride and ambition lead inexorably to oblivion.

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On the mystery of mothering

This spring, thinning my garden beds overfull with hellebores, the early- and long-blooming Lenten rose, I accidently exposed a rabbit’s nest. It was the first I’d ever seen. I gently pulled back the top layer of gray fluff — then the scream. A humanlike scream of innermost fear.

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All Kinds of Missing, All Kinds of Loss

Ashley Herring Blake pens a magical mermaid mystery about grief

In Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea, Ashley Herring Blake continues to confront the hard subjects of trauma and loss, identity and community, forgiveness and redemption — subjects she sensitively explored in her previous books for middle grade and YA readers. That she does so within the context of a magical beach-themed mermaid mystery can only be a plus for her young readers. 

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Travel and Disappearance

Kiese Laymon’s novel Long Division operates at the intersection of language and time

The reissue of Kiese Laymon’s Long Division echoes a familiar Black church precept of doing your first works over. In this new iteration of his 2013 debut novel, Laymon separates the story into two books, or testaments, each centered around 14-year-old Citoyen “City” Coldson.

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Costly Redemption

William Gay’s Fugitives of the Heart is an homage to Twain

Times are hard for the characters who populate William Gay’s Fugitives of the Heart, the last in a string of posthumous novels pieced together by his friends from an attic full of scenes Gay left behind. For J.M. White, Sonny Brewer, and the other writers who figured out how the scenes fit together, the effort was worth it, a forensic labor of love they feel even now for a writer who died in 2012.

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