Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Detour in Tennessee

The Academy of American Poets honors Kimiko Hahn’s poem about Sweetwater Caverns

June 3, 2010 Today’s poem at, an online publication of the Academy of American Poets, is “The Sweetwater Caverns” by Kimiko Hahn. As with much of Hahn’s work, the poem is less about its declared subject—in this case, the famous caverns in Sweetwater, Tennessee—than about the way the subject raises questions about the convergence of death and desire.

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The Boy's Alright

Former Senator Fred Thompson talks with Chapter 16 about his new memoir, Teaching the Pig to Dance

June 8, 2010 Born in 1942 to a wise-cracking car salesman and a woman who appreciated politically incorrect humor, Fred Dalton Thompson grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, where his Grandma Thompson padded around town showing off her excised goiter (which she carried around in a hankerchief), where he heard old men swap lies at the Blue Ribbon Café, and where he wandered into his share of boyhood scrapes. Thompson went on to spend eight years (1994-2003) in the U.S. Senate, conduct a failed presidential bid, and star in a long list of movies and television shows, but his new memoir, Teaching the Pig to Dance, sticks to his Lawrenceburg youth. Thompson spoke with Chapter 16 prior to his Nashville appearance at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on June 8 at 7 p.m.

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Eccentric Faith

Award-winning playwright, screenwriter and director John Patrick Shanley talks with Chapter 16 about Doubt, faith, and theater

June 2, 2010 John Patrick Shanley’s 2005 play, Doubt: A Parable, won the Triple Crown for drama: a Tony Award, an Obie, and a Pulitzer Prize. The 2008 film version, which Shanley directed, stars Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman and was nominated for Critic’s Choice Award, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Shanley is a product of parochial schools, a fact that figures heavily in the design of Doubt, the story of a mistrustful, conservative nun who suspects a progressive parish priest of having an inappropriate relationship with an altar boy. Shanley will be in Nashville as part of Lipscomb University’s thirtieth annual Christian Scholars’ Conference. He speaks at 4 p.m. on June 3 in the Collins Alumni Auditorium.

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Across the Age Barrier

Poets from Youth Speaks Nashville add their voices to Nashville’s literary census

June 1, 2010 Youth Speaks Nashville gives teens the opportunity to learn and express themselves through spoken-word poetry. Some of its talented young poets will add their voices to Nashville Now: 2010 Spoken Word Census, a portrait of the city in poetry, prose, and song. The three-day series of events will take place at the Darkhorse Theater at 7:30 p.m. on June 3, 4, and 5.

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Catcher in the National Spotlight

Siori Koerner’s letter to J.D. Salinger wins the Murfreesboro eighth-grader top honors in the Letters About Literature contest

May 31, 2010 It began as just another school essay, with a due date for a grade. The assignment: to choose a book that speaks to you—any book you wish—and write a letter to its author, explaining how the story sheds new light on your own life experiences. Siori Koerner’s letter to J.D. Salinger ultimately won its author, an eighth grader from Murfreesboro, top honors in this year’s Letters About Literature contest, a national program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

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Sons and Lovers—and MFA Degrees

In Leah Stewart’s new novel, an infidelity jars a former poet into reconsidering her marriage and its costs

May 28, 2010 So hoary is the tradition of novels about writers that it’s impossible to attend a graduate writing program without being warned against the shopworn trope of writing about being a writer. Nonetheless, with said programs popping up on seemingly every campus, a new breed of books about writers—specifically, MFA candidates and graduates—has emerged. Husband and Wife, the new novel from Leah Stewart (a Vanderbilt graduate and former visiting professor at both Vanderbilt and Sewanee), takes up the task with keen insight and subtle wit. But it also has, significantly, a broader sweep in its intelligent portrayal of modern motherhood and the challenge of creative productivity in a two-breadwinner world.

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