Two weeks ago I drove up to Nashville, TN to speak with Jewell Parker Rhodes at the Southern Festival of Books. Not only did I get to meet a wonderful author, but I was able to spend some quality time with my younger brother and take him to his very first book festival. On the way up we listened to Sherman Alexie‘s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN. A few years back Chris Myers introduced me to Sherman Alexie’s poetry, specifically his list poems. He’s an outstanding storyteller and all of his accolades are so well deserved.
We stopped in Chattanooga to eat and visit the Hunter Museum of American Art. My brother was “blown away” (pun intended) by the Stephen Rolfe Powell glass sculpture exhibit. Along with the live glass exhibit, there was a viewing area that showed videos about Chihuly and other glass artists and their work. Needless to say, we both walked away wanting to be glass artists for at least a day.
In the permanent collection was also a Thomas Hart Benton and an impressive Radcliffe Bailey piece on display among many other wonderful works of art.
After leaving the museum we stopped for a bite of sushi and headed on up to Nashville. We were hosted by two of the nicest folks I’ve ever met in the book world, Robin Smith and Dean Schnieder (of “The Dean’s List”). Robin gave me a tour of her lovely home that’s full of books and ART! while Dean and my brother chewed the fat over funky jazz tunes. The next morning Robin and Dean hosted breakfast with homemade lemony cinnamon rolls, egg soufflé, and coffee! The table was abuzz with conversation from some very cool folks like Deb Wiles (whose blog I’m referring to in aiding my memory) Ellen Wittlinger; Squire Babcock from Murray, Kentucky; Ellen’s husband, David (the photographer); Robin; Ellen’s daughter, Kate Pritchard; and her brand-new husband, Mark Letcher. What a way to start the day.
Shortly after breakfast we were off to work! Jewell Parker Rhodes is a delight of a lady. The only thing better than reading NINTH WARD is listening to Jewell read from NINTH WARD and hear her motivation behind the book. After our talk we signed a few books and said our goodbyes.
I can never leave a festival without buying books and this one was no exception. Along with my second copy of NINTH WARD (I left the one I brought with me in the car – of course). I bought PAPA FISH’S LULLABY by Susan Eaddy, a Nashville based clay artist. Susan was there to sign my book! It’s an adorable sea lullaby that any little one would love.
My brother and I then headed over to Fisk University (our parents’ alma mater) to take a look around. We tried visiting the Carl Van Vechten Museum, but it was closed. Nonetheless, we toured the campus and shared stories of our father and my mother’s college days.
It was a highlight filled trip. One of the biggest for me was getting Dean to sign a copy of an article he wrote on R. Gregory Christie.