​Tillinghast Book Signing at the Blue Chair

On Wednesday, Aug. 2, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., the Blue Chair is hosting a book signing and brief reading from Richard Tillinghast’s “Journeys into the Mind of the World: A Book of Places,” published by the University of Tennessee Press. After the reading and signing, attendees are encouraged to stick around to chat with Richard during happy hour.

Richard Tillinghast is the author of 12 books of poetry and five of nonfiction, including “Finding Ireland: A Poet’s Explorations of Irish Literature and Culture,” 2008, and “An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul,” 2012. “Finding Ireland” was named Book of the Year for travel essays by Foreword Magazine. “An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul,” published in London, was named one of the 10 best travel books of the year by Publisher’s Weekly and nominated for the Ondatjee Prize given by the Royal Society of Literature. In 2010 Tillinghast was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in poetry in addition to a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in translation for “Dirty August” (Kirli Agustos), his versions of poems by the Turkish poet, Edip Cansever, written in collaboration with his daughter, the poet Julia Clare Tillinghast. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Sewanee, the college program at San Quentin Prison, and the University of Michigan, and currently teaches part-time in the Converse College Low-Residency M.F.A. Program. Richard lived in Ireland from 2005-2011, and currently spends his summers in Sewanee with his partner, the painter Suzy Papanikolas, and winters on the Hamakua Coast on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Richard is a native of Memphis and a 1962 cum laude graduate of the University of the South with longtime ties to Sewanee. After graduation, he went on to earn his M.A. and PhD degrees from Harvard, where he studied poetry with Robert Lowell. In 2008, he was awarded an honorary DLitt degree by the University of the South. His long poem, “Sewanee in Ruins,” was first printed here as a letter-press chapbook in 1981. In 2009, he followed this up with another long poem, “Sewanee When We Were Young,” which was published together with “Sewanee in Ruins” in “Sewanee Poems,” issued by the University of the South and printed as a fine-press, hand-set, boxed edition by the Evergreen Press, Gloucestershire, England, with 16 lithographs by Joseph Winkelman, C’64. A more affordable second edition, published by the University of the South, with digital reproductions of the original lithographs by Joseph Winkelman, came out in 2014 and is used as a text by the University’s Finding Your Place program for entering first-year students. “Journeys into the Mind of the World” contains several chapters of local interest including “Sewanee and the Civil War,” “Nathan Bedford Forrest: Born to Fight,” “Peter Taylor and Tennessee’s Three Kingdoms,” and “Greek Revival and Double Dogtrot,” on Southern architecture.
Philip Brady, author of several books of poetry including “Forged Correspondences,” writes of “Journeys into the Mind of the World”: “While Richard Tillinghast’s peripatetic essays amble from Paris to India to the Pacific Northwest to Ireland and England and Tennessee and finally to Hawaii, these beautiful picaresque forays into the mind of the world manage to stand still and stand for themselves—as evidence, as it were, that we belong to one place—a seat of imagination made real by the storytellers, architects, painters, musicians, and mystics Tillinghast encounters. Tillinghast brings to his sojourns a brilliant eye, a friendly soul, and eclectic knowledge of a variety of disparate areas—Civil War history, Venetian architecture, Eastern cultures, Irish music and the ways of out-of-the-way people. This is a book about being everywhere at once, in a strange simultaneity, a time and place beyond any map or guidebook.”

​The SWC 1990 to the Present: Survivors’ Reminiscence

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Among many other notable presences, the 28th Sewanee Writers’ Conference (SWC) welcomed poet Charles Martin and fiction writer Tim O’Brien, both who served on the faculty at the first SWC in 1990.
“Aside from Wyatt [founding director Wyatt Prunty], Charles and I are the only survivors of that first conference,” O’Brien said. Since then, O’Brien’s served on the faculty every other year, and similarly, Martin counted this year’s event as his 14th SWC. Martin has also served frequently on the faculty at the School of Letters.
“Since 2008, Sewanee has become a steady summer thing for me. I’ve had a presence at the conference or the School of Letters or both,” Martin said.
“Dry boxes of cereal were the only food late at night,” Martin laughed, recalling the first SWC when he stayed at Rebel’s Rest, a Sewanee landmark that burned in 2014. But all joking aside, Martin’s humor quickly takes a backseat to his awestruck admiration of Sewanee.
Martin knew SWC founding director Prunty from John Hopkins University where they both served on the writing seminars faculty. Martin had never visited the South before coming to the 1990 conference, and he spent a day in Nashville before travelling on to Sewanee.
“Driving up to the plateau was like going into another kingdom. Sewanee is unlike any other place in the world. It’s the kind of University the hobbits would have built, twinkling cabins in the woods, the deafening chorus of cicadas,” said Martin.
O’Brien agrees. He and his family live in Austin, Texas, a hubbub of freeways, congestion and crowds. “Sewanee was love at first sight, the air, the University, the mountain top feel—it’s a perfect setting for conversation. Sewanee is probably my favorite place on earth.”
O’Brien knew Prunty from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. When Prunty asked him to serve on the faculty at the first SWC, O’Brien said, “Yeah, sure. Wyatt’s my friend, a generous kind person who loves people. I didn’t even ask how much I was going to get paid.” The wage turned out to be far more than O’Brien expected thanks to the generosity of the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund, a bequest from the estate of the late Tennessee Williams that has made the SWC one of the top ranking writers’ meccas in the nation.
O’Brien recalls Prunty giving a reading at an early conference when the mischievous staff filled his water glass at the podium with vodka. “Wyatt took a huge slug. He couldn’t spit it out and swallowed, scanning the room for the culprit.” Others might have gotten angry, O’Brien said, praising Prunty for his generosity of spirit in all things.
For the faculty, the conference schedule is demanding. “The conference is a very intense experience, and I never left campus much until I began teaching at the School of Letters when my wife and I had time to drive around the area,” Martin said.
O’Brien concurs. “You have nine student manuscripts to evaluate. That’s a lot of pages, and you need to read them attentively like an editor and pay attention to every line—I’m anal that way.”
Five years ago, Martin who has taught since his graduate school days in the 60s, decided to retire from teaching to devote himself to writing full time. He turned in the manuscript for his sixth poetry collection, “Future Perfect,” Scheduled for release in 2018, two weeks before this conference. Also the author of three translations, fine arts books, and a historical perspective on the work of the Roman poet Catullus, Martin plans to turn his attention next to craft lecture essays.
“I like to switch it up,” Martin said. “I’m really happy with the decision to write full time.”
For O’Brien, as well, writing is his full time profession. “I live in my office in my underwear, and I write. At Sewanee, I’m around people, and I enjoy it.”
O’Brien, who has published nine book-length works of fiction is also working on a series of craft essays. Of the things he’s written, his favorite is a new piece on the experience of fatherhood, “Papa” Ernest Hemingway, and his two young sons. “My favorite is always what I’m working on now. You love the new infant, feel protective.”
Both men have kept in touch with some of their students. “This year, a student I had eight years ago returned, and she’s just published a novel,” O’Brien said.
“There are more activities than there were in 1990,” Martin noted. “I’m teaching a translation workshop, for example. But most of the changes are external like the new Sewanee Inn.”
O’Brien confessed, “I was afraid of Charles for the first 10 years. Charles is so quiet and a poet. I didn’t want to interrupt his reverie. Then one evening, we ended up in side by side rocking chairs at the French House.” Martin gave him a copy of a manuscript he was working on, a reminiscence on Nabokov. “It was incredibly moving and well written,” O’Brien said. “We talked about Nabokov for hours and became fast friends.”
O’Brien, too, sees little change since 1990, remarking instead on the “abiding feeling of decency, civility and kindness.” Asked to sum up the SWC experience in five words, O’Brien said, “The world should be Sewanee.”

​Healthcare Reform Panel

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

A group of concerned Franklin County residents met on Monday night for a panel on healthcare reform sponsored by Sewanee Organize and Act.
The panel was organized to provide a space for citizens to air their concerns and to learn from industry professionals about how, if passed, the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would affect medical practices and their patients. In May of this year, the House of Representatives passed the proposed repeal. The vote went to the Senate earlier this week.
The panel was organized and moderated by Sandra Rice, a certified nurse practitioner on oncology and family practice. Rice has worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on different things, and she said it was a Justice Center panel from June that planted the seed in her mind to organize a panel in Franklin County.
“It was just fantastic, and I learned so much. I thought we needed to do a panel like that one in rural Tennessee. We would be really affected by any of the changes with healthcare and the ACA, so I said, ‘Let’s do this,’” said Rice. “The purpose of the panel was to be a public hearing, to educate and allow citizens to provide input to the proposed legislation.
On the panel were Garrett Adams, founder and director of the Beersheba Springs clinic; Amy Evans from Sewanee Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine; Nancy Silvertooth, a certified specialist in Medicaid and ACA sign-up and Bill Zechman, an insurance agent who worked with the ACA when Humana was in the market in Tennessee.
For Sid Brown, president of Sewanee Organize and Act, supporting the ACA is personal.
“It’s about Medicaid. It’s about people who are physically and mentally challenged being supported. It’s about me wanting to support a government that will help people who are challenged,” she said. “Myself, I had a brother who was severely developmentally and physically disabled, and he had to get some kind of support his whole life, as did my father. I want others to be supported too.”
Rice has been involved with medical practice since she worked as a candy striper when she was 15-years old.
“I’ve spent my whole life in healthcare. I was a nurses’ aide through college and became a nurse practitioner, so this has always been my passion. I had studied briefly in England with the national health service there,” said Rice. “I became a co-chair of the healthcare committee of Sewanee Organize and Act, so this has been my area.”
Evans said Grundy County is one of the poorest counties in the country and, because of Medicaid, the children and families that come to her practice are able to receive healthcare. She said the proposal to repeal the ACA is dangerous to the health of American children.
“When a baby is born, you can almost predict based on where they live what their outcome will be. Children who have Medicaid are more likely to grow up healthy and to finish school. Children don’t live in a vacuum—they live in a community. If the community is unhealthy, the children will be too,” said Evans.
Rice said she was unsurprised that most of those in attendance were of similar political opinions.
“It would be nice to have a dialogue, but I think there’s such a wide gap of different opinions that has been very, very difficult to bridge,” she said.
Her sentiments were shared.
“In order to move forward, I think we need to be less partisan. It needs to be a humanity-based endeavor. The divide is so distinct that it often comes to people not listening,” said Dale McDaniel, Sewanee resident.
The panel was recorded to be sent to elected officials, according to Rice. There were no elected officials present at the panel.

​Sales Tax Holiday

The state of Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday is held every year, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and ending at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday night. During this weekend, certain goods may be purchased tax free. This year’s tax-free holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 28, and ends Sunday, July 30, at 11:59 p.m.

Consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.

For more information about the sales tax holiday, including lists of taxable and tax-exempt items, please visit www.tntaxholiday.com. If you have questions about the holiday, please submit them to the Department electronically through the Revenue Help application, at https://revenue.support.tn.gov/hc/en-us.

​‘Tigers Don’t Leave Tracks!’ Community Project

“Tigers Don’t Leave Tracks!” is a community-wide project bringing together the Sewanee Parent Organization, Sewanee Elementary School and local businesses. The project encourages customers to use reusable bags when they shop, rather than taking plastic or paper bags, and teaches the children in our community to be conscious about reducing waste.

Participating businesses are showing their support in many ways. The University Bookstore donated 175 reusable bags to the school to help launch the project. Mooney’s Market and Emporium, Village Wine and Spirits and the Sewanee Market are generously making 10 cent donations to Sewanee Elementary School for each shopping trip that uses reusable bags or doesn’t take a bag. The Lemon Fair is also making 10 cent donations for each disposable bag not used, and 20 cents when customers use a reusable bag purchased from the store. When you make a purchase at the Piggly Wiggly and bring your own bags, you can write a nomination on the back of your receipt for a class at the school (for instance “Mrs. King’s class,” or “Grade Three,” or “Principal’s Choice”) and enter that class into a draw. The Piggly Wiggly will cater a “Litterless Lunch” for the winning class in October, in coordination with a yearlong project aimed at teaching students ways to reduce the packaging waste produced during meals.
Other businesses are participating too. If you see our signs, ask them how. For more information about the project, please contact Shelley MacLaren at (269) 267-8396.
Look for “Tigers Don’t Leave Tracks!” signs in our local businesses, bring your own bags and thank you for supporting “Tigers Don’t Leave Tracks!” and Sewanee Elementary School.

​Bean Resigns Franklin County Commission Seat

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Stanley Bean, who was appointed Director of Schools in June, resigned from his position as county commissioner in the July meeting.
Bean had been on the commission for 11 years.
“I want to say how happy and proud and honored I am to be director of schools. I hope I can do as well as others who have gone before me in past years. One thing I would like to see at some point is for the school committee and the long-range planning committee to work together. On Aug. 4, we have 5,300 students coming in,” Bean said. “The number one thing is we have to make sure our students are safe.”
David Eldridge, seat A in the seventh district, asked Bean if he was able to say anything about the consolidation of the middle schools. Bean said the issue had not been brought up in any school board meetings he had attended.
“They were going to kind of wait to get my feet wet and get through budget proceedings,” said Bean. “I’ll honor their requests going forward, but I do want to talk with all the school board members about what I think we should do. They will have the final say so, but we’re all going to have to do it together.”
At the meeting, Sewanee resident John Wendling spoke to the commission about a building material called insulated concrete forms, which he used to build his own house because of the material’s high efficiency in regulating energy. According to Wendling, who has both a bachelors and a master’s degree in physics and learned of the material via a Department of Energy-sponsored seminar, said the material could help save municipal buildings thousands of dollars per year.
Logix, one of the leading ICF companies in North America, describes the material as “a system of formwork for reinforced concrete usually made with a rigid thermal insulation that stays in place as a permanent interior and exterior substrate for walls, floors and roofs.”
Wendling said the appeal of the material to residents would be potential lower property taxes in the long run.
The commission also moved to recommend that the certified tax rate from the state be denied and that the tax rate for the county remain at 2.67 percent. The decision to stay with the current tax rate came after much discussion in the July finance meeting of how lowering the tax rate to the proposed 2.36 percent would affect the county.
Recommendations by Mayor Richard Stewart for the following positions were approved:
Appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Monty Hawkins,3-year term;
Appointment to Consolidated Communications, Gerald Smith, 3-year term;
Appointment to the Solid Waste Management Committee, Dave van Buskirk and Charlie Brown;
Appointment to the Regional Planning Commission, Jeremy Price, 4-year term.
Gene Snead nominated Mark Vanzant as Constable for District 1. Vanzant’s nomination was approved.

​Members of Otey Parish Church Visit Canon Gideon in Uganda

Marilyn and Tom Phelps and Sally Hubbard recently made the long trek to Uganda (25 hours from Atlanta) to visit dear friend Canon Gideon Byamugisha and witness what progress has been made since Sally Hubbard visited his school in 2014. Marilyn is secretary and Sally is founder/treasurer of the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation-USA (FOCAGIFO), a 501 (c) 3 organized in 2015.

The visitors were delighted to see that the Toyota van the Friends provided is still running strong. While there, they ordered a custom luggage rack to be built and installed on top. 
A pleasant lab has been built for the eight laptops the Friends donated and students were quietly at work. The catering classes are in full swing in the kitchen FOCAGIFO furnished, complete with tile counters, wood cabinets, stove and refrigerator, but not yet with running water.
The catering students served them at tea time and lunch with enthusiasm and style, with tablecloths and intricately folded napkins and flowers on the tables, and the very best food they had in Uganda. At present the students have to carry 5-gallon jerry cans of rain water to the sinks to wash up, but this year’s donation, a new rain water collection tank and delivery system, will soon correct that deficit. FOCAGIFO also provided funds this year to develop the miserable gutted meandering track called a “road” to the campus, and while they were there, work began to straighten, widen, stabilize, and compact a standard dirt road. Paving it will necessitate future funds.
In addition to this obvious physical progress, the students seem more confident in general and especially about speaking English. The Sewanee visitors had several opportunities to engage with them about such topics as relative value of vocational-technical education versus college; about leadership, and in student-lead worship. The elected student leaders show calm dedication in welcoming destitute new students to campus and making sure the staff is informed of their needs. Presently there are 107 students, 14- to 20-years old, HIV orphans or other vulnerable youth. Half of these board at the school; there are 15 girls in one tidy room with two-or-three-level bunk beds, tidy because they have no belongings except a change of clothes. After two years of study they graduate with tools for their chosen trade, such as a pedal sewing machine or a mechanics tool box.
While Marilyn and Sally assisted in painting two classrooms, Tom laid brick for an outdoor stage with offices above. They distributed 150 new T-shirts garnered from surplus supplies of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.
In retrospect, the peak moment was the dedication of the new rain water tank, which has a colorful ceramic sign embedded in concrete saying “This water project was dearly funded by Sewanee Friends and Commissioned by Ms. Sally Hubbard, Volunteer Executive Director of FOCAGIFO-USA on 8 June 2017. Together Achieving Much More.” That people in Sewanee provide clean water to students in Africa is a modern-day miracle, as joyful for the donors as for the recipients.
The rector and vestry of Otey Church have agreed to assist the Friends with annual fundraising events. To get involved or to donate, please contact Sally at sally@hubbard.net. To donate online, make all your Amazon purchases at smile.amazon.co/ch/32-0455862. The next fundraiser will be a Jambalaya dinner 5–8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at Otey.

​Sewanee Writers’ Conference Continues Through July 29

Celebrating its 28th summer session, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference (SWC) continues through Saturday, July 29, and features readings, panels and lectures by nationally-recognized faculty, editors, publishers, and literary agents.

Upcoming events include readings by fiction writers Richard Bausch, Allan Gurganus, Adrianne Harun, Randall Kenan, Margot Livesey, Jill McCorkle, Tim O’Brien and Steve Yarbrough; poets Mark Jarman, Maurice Manning, Charles Martin, Marilyn Nelson, Wyatt Prunty, Mary Jo Salter, A.E. Stallings and Sidney Wade; and playwrights Dan O’Brien and Ken Weitzman.
A complete Conference schedule can be found on page 6, or online at <sewaneewriters.org/schedule>. Authors’ books are available at the University Book & Supply Store.
Supported by the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund established through the estate of the late Tennessee Williams, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference offers instruction and criticism to writers through a series of workshops, readings and craft lectures in poetry, fiction and playwriting. For more information, call 598-1654 or visit the website at <sewaneewriters.org>.

​Burglary at Senior Citizens Center

The Sewanee Senior Citizens Center and the Sewanee Community Center were burglarized this past weekend.

The glass on the door to the sewing room at the Senior Center was smashed in, allowing entrance into the building. The Center’s big black garbage bags were used to haul away the computer, printer, deep fryer, meat slicer, and about $200 in cash from the sewing room kitty. Other miscellaneous items such as a box of buttons were also taken. The phone lines were cut to the Senior Center.
Once inside the Senior Center, the alleged perpetrators gained entrance to the Sewanee Community Center where a printer and some Scouting items were taken. Coolers from the Community Center were used to take away the stolen items.
The stolen items were taken to the ditch line behind the Community Center and covered with brush.
JoDean Bain, a cook at the Senior Center, discovered the break-in at 8 a.m., July 17. The Sewanee Police came and quickly traced footsteps back to the ditch, where the stolen items had been left.
“Almost everything was recovered, except for the $200 in cash,” said Bonnie Green, treasurer of the Senior Center. “We were up and running and serving lunch on Monday.”
If anyone has information concerning suspicious behavior at the Ball Park Road facilities, please contact the Sewanee Police Department at 598-1111.
Donations to fix the door at the Senior Center are being accepted. Please drop off your monetary donation at 5 Ball Park Road. For more information, call the Center at 598-0771.

​Sewanee Writers’ Conference Begins 28th Year

Twelve days of readings and lectures open with fiction writer Christine Schutt.

Celebrating its 28th summer session, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference will run from Tuesday, July 18, through Saturday, July 29, and feature readings, panels, and lectures by nationally-recognized faculty, editors, publishers and literary agents.
The Conference will begin with a reading by fiction writer Christine Schutt at 8:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 18. All readings and lectures are free, open to the public, and held in the University of the South’s Mary Sue Cushman Room of the Bairnwick Women’s Center.
Christine Schutt is the author of two short-story collections, “Nightwork” (Alfred A. Knopf) and “A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer” (TriQuarterly Books), and three novels, “Florida” (TriQuarterly Books), a National Book Award finalist; “All Souls” (Harcourt), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and “Prosperous Friends” (Grove Press). Among other honors, Schutt has twice been selected for inclusion in The O. Henry Prize Stories and recently appeared in the New American Stories anthology from Vintage. She is the recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships, and she lives and teaches in New York.
The first week will also feature readings by fiction writers Jeffery Renard Allen, Allan Gurganus, Alice McDermott, and Tim O’Brien; poets B.H. Fairchild, Mary Jo Salter, and A.E. Stallings; and playwright Naomi Iizuka.
The second week will feature readings by fiction writers Richard Bausch, Adrianne Harun, Randall Kenan, Margot Livesey, Jill McCorkle, and Steve Yarbrough; poets Mark Jarman, Maurice Manning, Charles Martin, Marilyn Nelson, Wyatt Prunty, and Sidney Wade; and playwrights Dan O’Brien and Ken Weitzman.
Editors from 5E, 32 Poems, Algonquin Books, The American Scholar, Blackbird, Boulevard, Copper Canyon Press, Crab Orchard Review, Ecotone, Grand Central Publishing, Grove Atlantic, The Hopkins Review, Knopf, Lookout Books, LSU Press, Mike Levine Editorial, The Missouri Review, The New Criterion, New Directions, Northwestern University Press, The Sewanee Review, University of Arkansas Press and The Weekly Standard will discuss publishing, as will agents from Aevitas Creative Management, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents, and The Wylie Agency.
Agents from The Gernert Company, ICM Partners and The Williams Company will also be in attendance, and representatives from Actors Theatre of Louisville and Agency for the Performing Arts will meet with playwrights.
A complete Conference schedule can be found on page 10, or online at <sewaneewriters.org/schedule>. Authors’ books are available at the University Book & Supply Store.
Supported by the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund established through the estate of the late Tennessee Williams, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference offers instruction and criticism to writers through a series of workshops, readings and craft lectures in poetry, fiction and playwriting. For more information, call (931) 598-1654 or visit the Sewanee Writers’ Conference website at <sewaneewriters.org>.

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