For me, though, April is also Southern Literature Month, or at least it is every other year when the biennial Celebration of Southern Literature is held in my home town, Chattanooga, TN. Formerly known as the Conference on Southern Literature, this event has been one of my favorites since my professor and mentor introduced me to it when I was a sophomore in college. It feels something like a homecoming for many of my favorite writers, for these amazing voices who too often get relegated to secondary status not because of their writing (lord, no) but perhaps because their books preserve and celebrate the voices of unliterary people. They rarely get counted among the stars of literary fiction, but they should, and this conference serves as a way to celebrate the people, the places, and, yes, the poetry in all their work.
The great thing is these genres overlap, especially with Natasha Tretheway, newly-installed U.S. Poet Laureate, again in attendance and doing a reading. Also, C. D. Wright will receive the Donald Justice Award for Poetry and Brooks Haxton the Hanes Award for Poetry. These and other voices will sing their songs for three days this month, and I will do my best to share them all with you.
Recognizing the impossibility of fitting all this celebrating into three days, I am devoting the entirety of my April reading and reviewing to Southern Literature. I have been working on some exciting things outside of this field, but those will have to wait until May, for I am declaring April my celebration of
(thanks to the Indigo Girls for the inspiration)
Here's a taste of what I'll be working on:
- A review of Walker Percy's classic The Moviegoer
- A review of Holly Goddard Jones' The Next Time You See Me with an interview with the author
- The National Poetry Month Blog Tour hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. I'll be posting on April 19th and highlighting some of these award-winning Southern poets.
- A page-to-screen review and conversation with my most fabulous sister on one of our favorites, Steel Magnolias ("it was in the Freezes Beautifully section of my cookbook")
- Review of the documentary film The Rough South of Larry Brown
- A conversation with the amazing Lee Smith
"Shall we tell them? I guess we can't keep it a secret any longer. Shelby's been driving nails up her arm."