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.”