Book of Tennessee Writers

  • Author(s): Tickle, Phyllis
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1996-08-08
  • Status: Active

A Book of Tennessee Writers
Phyllis Tickle, General Editor
Alice Swanson, Associate Editor

This anthology, arriving in Tennessee’s bicentennial year, is a bountiful showcase of the state’s rich literary output. Like its predecessor, the widely read Homewords, published in 1986 for Tennessee’s Homecoming, this new volume features fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by living writers—from senior literati to numerous newly emerging talents.

The writings contained here are of such a rich and marvelous variety that they elude easy reduction to a set of common themes or concerns. Readers of this book, says editor Phyllis Tickle in her preface, will discover the pervasive influence of Native American culture upon Tennessee’s worldview—”not so much overt and politically correct as inherent and incorporated.” Beyond that, however, the selections are, if anything, characterized by the relative absence of those qualities usually associated with southern literature: the legacy of the Civil War, dialect and colloquialisms, and, most notably, “a sense of place.” As Tickle observes: “Terrain and its distinguishing plant life, family possessions and community idiosyncrasies, history of house and blood-ownership of region, by and large, have given way to sly accommodation, to shared conversation as place, and to a kind of rugged but highly portable sufficiency that comes splendidly close to being hope made substantive.”

Yet, however much the posture of Tennessee writers may have shifted from regionalist to citizen of the moment, something essential remains. Throughout these pages, Tickle notes, “there resides the kind of dry, wise humor that is born of endurance and the secured perspective of those who know where and what home is . . . which is why, in the end, we settled upon our title, HomeWorks—that is, works of the heart and mind, done from and for home.”

The Editors: Phyllis Tickle, religion editor of Publishers Weekly, is the author, most recently, of Re-Discovering the Sacred: Spirituality in America. She lives in Millington, Tennessee.

Alice Swanson is director of the Literary Arts Program at the Tennessee Arts Commission and was associate editor of Homewords with the late Douglas Paschall.

Among the more than one hundred living authors included in HomeWorks are:
Shelby Foote
Will D. Campbell
Elizabeth Spencer
Tom T. Hall
Coleman Barks
John Egerton
Nikki Giovanni
Ishmael Reed
Marilou Awiakta
Charles Wright
Richard Tillinghast
Arthur Flowers
Elizabeth Cox
Lamar Alexander
Lisa Alther
Alan Lightman
Judy Odom
Judith Hawkes
Abraham Verghese
Sharyn McCrumb
Steve Stern
Madison Smartt Bell
Cathie Pelletier
Ann Patchett
Jerome Wilson