Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

My Three Smiths

Reading in a plague year

On New Year’s Day 2020, 24 hours after an initial cluster of COVID-19 cases had been diagnosed in Wuhan, China, I was nose-deep in The Mirror & the Light, the magnificent doorstop conclusion to Dame Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, soaking up the pageantry and intrigue of Henry VIII’s court. Mantel cast a spell, and I was blissfully unaware of reports radiating outward from East Asia and then from Italy. Doomscrolling was future tense.

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The Ocean Spoke

When a place becomes the teacher

Maybe it was the truth in that blue, bedazzling ocean that caused me to trip upon my own comfortable musings. Come on, now, the sea seemed to whisper. Don’t be putting on airs.

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Book Excerpt: Worship the Pig

Gaylord Brewer is a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. His books include a cookbook-memoir, The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire, and Worship the Pig, from which this poem is excerpted.

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“February in Knoxville”

Book Excerpt: Down

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the creative director at Sundress Academy for the Arts and the managing editor of Sundress Publications. Down is her third full-length poetry collection. Her poems have appeared in Guernica, Ecotone, Mid-American, Tupelo Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, and Willow Springs, among others. She is a Distinguished Lecturer in the English department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and in 2017 she was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.

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“You, Reader”

Book Excerpt: The Absurd Man

Major Jackson is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Roll Deep and Leaving Saturn, which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. In January 2021, he will join the Vanderbilt University faculty as Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English.

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“Slurry Spill”

Book Excerpt: Spring Up Everlasting

William Woolfitt is the author of three poetry collections, including Beauty Strip and Charles of the Desert. His poems, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Blackbird, Image, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, and other journals. He’s an associate professor of English at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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