Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Out of Safe Hiding

When a judge stopped the presses on Alice Randall’s first novel, Shelby Foote came to her aid

In 2001, when Shelby Foote was one of the writers who wrote to a Georgia judge on my behalf, I was surprised. Having Shelby Foote take my side against the Margaret Mitchell estate was a little like having Ashley take sides against Scarlett with an unacknowledged but not unborn daughter of Mammy’s. Of all the writers who stood with me—Toni Morrison, Pat Conroy, Harper Lee, Ishmael Reed, John Egerton, Tony Earley, Michael Kreyling, Larry McMurtry, and Arthur Schlesinger among them—no one had more to lose than Shelby Foote.

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Ghosts of Nashville

John Prine talks about songwriting, Nashville, Paradise, and his new book, Beyond Words

John Prine’s first official songbook, Beyond Words, collects sixty of his influential songs. It also offers a treasure trove of family photographs, song manuscripts, and short commentaries that highlight the singer’s incisive wit.

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For Lives That Matter

Ibram X. Kendi discusses Stamped From the Beginning, winner of the National Book Award

In Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram Kendi offers a panoramic, penetrating vision of a disturbing theme in the nation’s past. 

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More Than One Life

Lee Smith discusses the challenges and pleasures of writing—and living—over the long haul

Fueled by empathy, precision, and wit, Lee Smith’s fiction opens up the interior worlds of characters whose depths we might least expect, given the everyday circumstances of their Southern lives. Smith spoke with Chapter 16 about her lifelong pursuit of stories that thrive on healthy doses of surprise, conflict, and mischief. 

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A Sense of the Possible

Jane Hirshfield talks with Chapter 16 about poetry’s timelessness, camouflage in nature, and why she doesn’t need to be “pop-culture hip”

Celebrated poet Jane Hirshfield talks with Chapter 16 about her new poetry collection, The Beauty, and her new essay collection, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

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