I had the most delightful experience this afternoon. Angela Elam interviewed me for New Letters on the Air, a terrific nationally syndicated radio program. (When the interview is up, I will link here, of course.) I have done quite a few radio interviews and I am sorry to say that your average radio interview consists of the host reading the press release and figuring out questions he can ask based on that. On a few occaisions, I’ve been forced to write the questions out so the interviewer can have something to say!
So, imaging how pleased I was to meet Angela who can for the interview with copies of both my books looking well-read. She asked such wonderful, though-provoking questions that I would have been content to talk to her all afternoon– and maybe I would have if we didn’t run out of tape. We talked about everything from the craft of writing to the politics of publishing. Angela is a sharp woman, I feel lucky to have been interviewed by her.
Yesterday, Lee Smith and I were on the program at The Margaret Mitchell House. The title of our program was “Crossing The Line.” We each gave a short reading and then talked to each other about what it means to be a southern woman writer today.
If you have ever been around Lee Smith, you know what a dynamic presence she is. We talked aout the hard stuff and even managed to make it funny. I think we established that there is such a thing as southern writing– there is so much common ground between us despite the obvious differences of generation, race, urban/rural. I am usually fairly apprehensive about the question of “what is universal”, but talking with Lee Smith made me think that real connections that cross the line are indeed possible.
The crowd at the Margaret Mitchell House was sparkling and just plain fun. The Atlanta Writers Club was in attendance, the Margaret Mitchell subcribers, and just regular folk. Several members of this blog community showed up– which always pleases me. I took lots of photos, but I lost my page with everyone’s name and correct spelling. So, if you see yourself and the name is wrong or mangled, email me and I will fix it right away.
Well, I am tired tired tired. It’s only day 2 of AWP. I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it through Saturday. Photo album.
Last night, there was a strange gathering at Eyedrum, an Atlanta gallery.(By strange I mean, men in blood-spattered tank tops, a nurse wearing white leather and platform shoes, and the plastic corpses piled in the corners.)
The gallery, Eyedrum, is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. If you have read any of my novels, you will know that I know MLK Dr. like the back of my hand. Or so I thought. Eyedrum is on the *other* side of MLK, near the Oakland Cemetery which houses such dead celebrities as Margaret Mitchell and Maynard Jackson. Who knew there were galleries, lofts, etc way out there? Not me, and not Natasha Trethewey who was riding shotgun.
Existential Question: What is urban renewal? When you get lost in your own hometown.
But enough of my musing. The point of the gathering (and the point of the post) was to celebrate the winners of this year’s Creative Loafing Atlanta Fiction Contest. (The theme of the contest was BLOOD, which accounts for all the party-strangeness.)
After serving as one of the judges, it was a great pleasure to meet the writers in the flesh after first meeting them on the page. Congrats to Brett Bender and the other winners! You can find their stories on the CL web site.
A few weeks ago, I received a message from Edie Greene asking if I would like to be on “Writers”, a series that runs of Mississipi public TV. When I was just at the very start of my career, I did an interview with Gene Edwards and he remembered me. Would I like to come back and be on “Writers.”
To tell you the truth, I didn’t have time. My life is nuts. I am teaching, writing, giving readings, and chasing The Brand New Heavies all over the country. My plate is full. But I liked Edie Greene and I did remember the Gene Edwards interview. It was my first time doing television and I was scared to pieces. I remembered Gene Edwards as an intellegent and kind man who made me forget I was even on TV. So, I said yes, and I am glad I did.
The interview was a roundtable affair with me, Ellen Douglas, and Suzanne Hudson. We are three southern women writers representing three generations and three different worlds. We talked about what he had in common and we discussed the ways that our lives and out writing differ. Gene Edwards was a perfect fascilitator, tossing easy pitches but pitching a curve ball every now and then. Gene kept the conversation lively and intense. (And, might I add, he was wearing a gorgeous suit!)
The show will air in May. I’ll let you know when they post the link!
not me, but The Untelling did get a runner-up award. Notice that I mention this up front. I didn’t make you read through my whole post to find out. (In this, I am trying to lead by example.)
The Hurston/Wright Awards were held at the D.C. Press Club last night. It was a fancy affair– $125 tickets, after-five attire. I kept it simple, black tea-length dress, silver shoes, bag, hair ornaments. There were many celebrities there– by this I mean people you can actually recognize, not just writers. S. Epatha Makerson, the “sister from Law and Order” was the M.C. She was a little bit toned-down than she was in the 2002 ceremony. The highlight of that event was her quip to David Anthony Durham who, in his acceptance speech thanked his wife for all the sacrifices she had made for his career. When Madame M.C. returned to the mike, she said, “She worked while you were sitting home working on that book! Umph. That better be a good book!” This time, she made jokes about having a pay alimony to her ex-husband. When Baltimore publisher, Paul Coates, upon receiving the North Star Award thanked his ex-wife, Ms. M.C. gave her hearty approval. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”
This year, H/W upgraded the statuettes. In previous years, winner received a statuette that looked like the Oscar, but black. (By that I mean they were black and they were BLACK.) But now the winners are given figures of Egyptian gods.
The Untelling has been nominated for the 2006 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award! As you can see, the competition is pretty stiff, but it really is an honor to be nominated. Here are the contenders: Joplin ‘s Ghost (Atria Books) by Tananarive Due Pride of Carthage (Doubleday)by David Anthony Durham The Untelling (Warner Books) by Tayari Jones Dancing in the Dark (Alfred A. Knopf) by Caryl Phillips My Jim (Crown Publishing) by Nancy Rawles Third Girl From the Left (Houghton Mifflin) by Martha Southgate
Click here to find out more about H/W and to see the nominees in the other categories.
It’s official. In 2007, I will join the faculty at Rutgers University, Newark Campus. Yes, this means that I will get to live in New York, and it also means that I will be able to be a part of a really exciting M.F.A program. Rutgers-Newark is not only the most diverse college campus in the country, but it will be home to a truly urban M.F.A. program.
I am thrilled to pieces that Target has chosen The Untelling as a “breakout book”! This means it will be featured in all 1,431 Target stores all around the country.
Are you thinking: “They sell books at Target?”
Yes, they do. And I think that Target just may be our new favorite bookstore.
More happy-dancing is in order. I’ve just found out that I will be the 2006 Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Residence at George Washington University. It’s a sweet gig. Low teaching load, cool Foggy Bottom Housing, and of course THIS MEANS ANOTHER YEAR IN DC!
Here’s the good part: The Jenny McKean Moore writer in residence also offers a FREE community writing class for people in the DC Area. There will be more details to come, but if you would be interested in participating the class, comment and I will put you on the list of people to send more information!
I was trying to keep this low, but my good friend Jacqueline let me know that my buisiness is already in the street, so I’ll announce it here. Aletha Spann of 30Nineteen Productions has optioned film rights for LEAVING ATLANTA.
Of course, an option is just one baby step toward actually having a movie made, but it’s fun to sort of think of the possibilities.
I mean, how would a person cast LEAVING ATLANTA? One of the fun things would be finding kid actors. And how refreshing it would be to see a black movie without all the usual suspects. Not that I have anything against the black actors who have acheived success, but it will be nice to see some fresh faces.
As everyone knows, I don’t have a TV. And I hardly ever make it to the movies. So, I am asking you all who you would cast for the grown up parts? Who would be Octavia’s mother? What about Rodney’s dad? And we can’t forget the uptight teacher, Mr. Harrell. I wonder if they would let me be in, just in a bit part. I’d love to put on a hairnet and play the role of the compassionate cafeteria lady!
El Cobre, a publisher in Spain, has released a Spanish translation of Leaving Atlanta ! Check out the cover art. Which do you prefer, the Spanish or American version?
(Okay, so I clicked on google to translate the review. It’s kind of funny. The father is described as a “despotic castrator.” I wish my Spanish was good enough for me to translate it myself. I am pretty sure that the well meaning google-bot is missing something….)
No, I didn’t say ADORATION, I said UNDERRATION. The creators of the blog, The Syntax Of Things, asked prominent literary bloggers to list writers for the 2005 list of under-rated writers. I am proud to have been nominated for this distinction by C.A.A. Frye of the blog, Tingle Alley. Check out the whole list. What a kick to be in such good company. Question: Which new books do you think deserve more attention?
I’ve got Stevie Wonder on my iPod. “Happy Birthday to ya! Haaaapppy Biiirrthday!” And of course, there’s red velvet cake. And vodka gimlets. And very good shoes. And very very very good friends. Thanks everyone for such a good year. Love, Tayari