Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Listen Here: Iles and Mesler

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 2:18 PM

“There was this guy in the English department at Ole Miss. He asked me to stay after class one day.

“I said: ‘Did I do something wrong?’

“He said: ‘No, Mr. Iles. I just want to make sure you know something.’

“I said: ‘What’s that?’

“He said: ‘I want to make sure you know you can write.’

“I said: ‘Well, um, yeah, thanks.’”

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ashley Roach-Freiman Does the “Impossible”

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 9:02 AM

The next installment of the “Impossible Language” series is the evening of Saturday, April 26th, and for those not in the know, it’s a series of poets reading from their work with visual artists often showing their work. It is also part of the wide range of artistic activities, including events spearheaded by Crosstown Arts, that have sprung up on North Cleveland in and around the Sears Crosstown building.

Ashley Roach-Freiman is playing her part. A poet in the MFA program at the University of Memphis and poetry editor for the program’s literary journal, The Pinch, Roach-Freiman heads “Impossible Language.”

What is all of this about? Let Roach-Freiman explain, as she did recently in another series — a series of emails:

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Eric Jerome Dickey: Time To Chill

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM

“It’s cool,” Eric Jerome Dickey said by phone, and he wasn’t referring to the fact that that morning on Barbados, where Dickey lives, he had the windows open and fan going. The native Memphian and best-selling author was referring to life on the island generally. But life on Barbados is different. As Dickey reported: “For one thing, in the States, you get so used to stuff. You have access to it … Walmart, Target … an overabundance of everything. Here, I walk into a store, and there may be only four pairs of pants my size! No Nike stores, no outlet malls, no Adidas stores.”

So, no. No “spend cycle” — as Dickey described it — on Barbados like the one you find in the U.S. But here’s Dickey on a few more matters, put to him before his Memphis signing at The Booksellers at Laurelwood on Friday, April 18th, at 6 p.m. He’ll be autographing his latest novel, A Wanted Woman (Dutton).

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sarah Arvio: The Nightlife

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 11:17 AM

With four collections of poetry, a Rome Prize in 2003, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and a Bogliasco Fellowship in 2012, what else is there to add to Sarah Arvio’s impressive resume?

A lot and including: publication in The Best American Poetry 1998, Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English, Ariadne’s Thread: A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Journals, and, forthcoming and perhaps on a lighter note, Eating Our Words: Poets Share Their Favorite Recipes.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pat Morgan: An Update

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 9:06 AM

To go with this week’s Flyer coverage of The Concrete Killing Fields, Pat Morgan’s first-person account of her work with the homeless in Memphis, I asked the author about an important point she makes throughout the book: inadequate mental-health services for the homeless in the wake of decades of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill.

Go to Mother Jones for a useful timeline of events that saw the emptying of public psychiatric hospitals in favor of community-based, state-funded outreach programs. The timeline is subtitled "How deinstitutionalization moved thousands of mentally ill people out of hospitals — and into jails and prisons," and pay particular attention to the year 1984.

That timeline ends in 2010, and rephrase the subtitle to read: "into jails and prisons or onto the streets." Which is why I asked Morgan to bring us up to date on mental-health services for the homeless generally and what’s being done — and needs still to be done — for the homeless in Memphis and Shelby County:

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Robinson and Butler To Speak

Posted By on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Memphis isn’t Chicago. Nor is it an urban magnet on the order of Atlanta.

But Memphis, according to Zandria F. Robinson, is a “key space" and "grounding site" to examine race, class, and regional identity in the post-soul South. She does so in her new book, This Ain’t Chicago (The University of North Carolina Press).

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

John Dear: Man on a Mission

Posted By on Sun, Apr 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

From Oklahoma City to Chattanooga: You’d think, since you have a speaking engagement in Memphis, you’d make that stop before heading to East Tennessee. Not John Dear. He's an author, teacher, lecturer, activist, and nominee several times (including in 2008, thanks to his friend Bishop Desmond Tutu) for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And regardless of the route, Dear will be at First Congregational Church in Memphis on April 8th to discuss his latest book, The Nonviolent Life (Pace e Bene Press). That's just days after the city observed the 46th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrated the reopening of the renovated National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bourbon? There’s the Spirit!

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 9:14 AM

“Bro, let me tell you, there was something seriously wrong with us.”

Yes, there was.

Tommy Lee, the man behind the above quote, was describing the time he and band mate Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue were on tour in 1987. One night, they’d run out of heroin, but they did have on hand some needles, so they reached for the bottle. The two tied off and took their Jack Daniel’s straight — into their veins.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sides at the U of M; a U of M Open House

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Two words from best-selling author and native Memphian Hampton Sides: Tell stories.

That’s the message Sides will be delivering inside the University Center Theater at the University of Memphis on Thursday, April 3rd, at 6 p.m. As guest speaker in the school’s Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities lecture series, Sides is certainly one to tell great stories — and reach readers. His Ghost Soldiers has been translated into a dozen languages. He followed that with a life and times of Kit Carson, Blood and Thunder. He followed that with a riveting account of the life of (and manhunt for) James Earl Ray, Hellhound on His Trail. This summer, look for Sides' latest nonfiction narrative: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette.

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