Good morning. I hope that you and yours are safe and well. Last week, my family and I enjoyed a divine King Cake from Just Bakery–their baked goods are fantastic, even beyond Mardi Gras, and if you’re in the Atlanta area, I recommend them to you. I also found delight in the New York Times Magazine‘s case for semicolons, a lemon poppy-seed olive oil loaf cake, and the marvelous Google Doodle celebrating Audre Lorde’s birthday.
I am really looking forward to the new film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, directed by Lee Daniels and with a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Writers’ Festival Guest 2007), which premieres on Friday on Hulu. While we wait, let’s listen to Suzan-Lori Parks and the Band, which she describes as “Neo-Soul, thicky textured like a magenta and orange paisley edible spoken-word velour singing and flying magic carpet shag rug ride.”
The extraordinary Dr. Memye Curtis Tucker (ASC ’56; and ten-time Writers’ Festival Guest) has a new chapbook out! It is so fun to share her work. Titled A Net to Hold the Wind, Nick Flynn (2014 Writers’ Festival Guest) writes that it, in it, one finds “poems—strong, wild poems—about a past that is fading away, paintings that are full of shadows, objects that contain whole lifetimes, and yet, yes—somehow, still—a world that is worth all our attempts to honor it.” We are honored to announce that we will be streaming archival footage of Dr. Tucker’s 1993 Writers’ Festival appearance during this year’s celebration! Mark your calendars to join us on Wednesday, April 7, at 2 p.m. for this exciting event!
Something to Celebrate:
Congratulations to Chey Wollner ’15, for having an essay published in the collection Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction! This book has been shortlisted for Best Nonfiction from the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association). Chey served as the one of the Writers’ Festival interns in 2015, and composed the foreword to that year’s edition of the Writers’ Festival Magazine, and was a finalist in Drama in the 2013 contest.
Something to Do:
There are so many things happening this week, I’ve planned it all out for you! Spring is almost here, and it’s apparent in all the activities! Here are some virtual (and non-virtual!) events, free and open to the public, that you might enjoy:
- This week, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is taking place! Running from February 17-28, there is a virtual lobby, extended Q&A sessions, guest speakers, and more.
- At Charis Books on Tuesday, February 23, at 7:00 p.m. the Kidliterate Book Club Reads: Pet;
- Coinciding with the April premiere of Ken Burns’ documentary about Ernest Hemingway, PBS is hosting a number of events, which will be anchored by local PBS stations and will center on a different element of Hemingway’s life and work. The first, which takes place Tuesday, February 23, at 7 p.m., will be about Hemingway and Childhood, and features writers Verna Kale and Tim O’Brien (Writers’ Festival Guest 1997). See pbs.org/kenburns/hemingway/events for details.
- Agnes Scott’s English Department will host a Writers & Scholars event featuring Dr. James Stamant Wednesday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m., to discuss his book Competing Stories: Modernist Authors, Newspapers, and the Movies.
- On Thursday, February 25, Charis’ Black Feminist Book Club will discuss Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie, at 7 p.m.
- The LGBTQ+ Book Club will take a look at Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City on Saturday, February 27, at 10 a.m.
Some (Archival) Things to Read:
This week, I looked back at Writers’ Festival Magazines from 2006-2010, and they were as wonderful as ever; they are also all available for you to peruse on our WordPress site. The first lines of Will Canter’s play, Line, Please, from the 2010 magazine are staying with me. The character Jean says: “We’ve been here for how long now? No, don’t answer that. I’ll figure it out. There was … Tuesday, carry the two, subtract October, make sure the lunar cycle is accurate … ahh … yes, it is accurate indeed, very accurate perhaps? But no time for semantics; Let’s keep the issue at hand. Our place. Here. This stage. Why! We’re on a stage. Did you notice?” More thoughts:
- The design theme for this year’s magazine focused on “simplicity,” “sustainability,” and “spirituality,” and “the idea of ‘build-up’ became a driving inspiration.”
- Check out Mike Dockins’ (longer) poems “Letter to Bonczek from Brockport” and “Channeling Dockins, Iredell Replies from Breadloaf,”
- Joanna Carver’s fascinating, politically-centered creative nonfiction piece “The Passerby,” and
- of course, Canter’s play Line, Please.
- Guiding this issue were the words “postmodern,” “animation,” and “surrealism,” and the cover was built exquisite-corpse style by the designers. “The resulting collage,” they write, “is a celebration of the diverse literary voices the Festival welcomes to Agnes Scott College.”
- One of the things that struck me, personally, about this issue is that several of the writers whose works are featured have continued to be connected with Agnes Scott. Two individuals–Karen Gentry (“The Forgiveness Project”) and James Davis May (“Elegy for Joe Magarac” [see also his poetry in the 2008 magazine]) taught creative writing for several years in the English Department at Agnes Scott and Louisa Hill, whose play Child’s Pose, was herself a Writers’ Festival guest writer in 2014. (Her play, AnAfternoon with Auntie Phil can be found in the 2007 magazine, as well.) Such a treat to see their work here!
- This issue of the Writers’ Festival Magazine was dedicated to Professor Bo Ball, who was the founder of the Festival itself.
- Nick McRae’s poem, “Eye”
- Aggie Ebrahimi’s story “Let’s See What’s Happening Out There”
- Coinciding with the New York Times Magazine’s letter of recommendation regarding semicolons, there’s Dorine Preston’s essay “Semicolon Slut”
- Alison Hennessee’s story “Seals” (see, also, her story “Two Umbrellas,” featured in the 2008 magazine)
- I am not a scientist, but I know some! (Hi, neighbors!) And, I loved reading Sarah Scoles’ poem, “A Linear Progression,” and her story, “Binary System,” in this issue. Sarah was also a Writers’ Festival Guest in 2010. “Binary System” features the Arecibo Observatory and J0737-3039B’s starquake–it’s beautiful!
- Ian Davisson’s poem, “Taking a Picture of the Infamous Liz Woodward,” features amazing formal structure and variety, and is brilliant.
- Kristin Hall’s play, Booth, is amazing!
- I, well, loved Liz Ott’s poetry: “The Love Poem” and “Love Poem, a Ghazal”
- Christopher Bundy’s story “Three Weeks”
See you next week! And, in the meantime, don’t forget to carry the two!
PS: Here’s a sneak peek at A Net to Hold the Wind:
Nets to Hold the Wind
Some pianos lack this middle pedal,
the one that holds a note, a chord,
while the fingers dance.
With no sostenuto we silence the past,
forget the cities beneath the stones
of newer cities.
O taste and see!
We know this moment may be all.
Yet aren’t music, plays, paintings,
words, nets to hold the wind—
gusting time, the ecstatic breath,
the disappearing past, the under song?