Southern Festival of Books logoOne of Our Lady’s favorite events of the year is the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, coming up October 9th – 11th. Admittedly, October is a busy month with hayrides, apple festivals, football games and so forth, but Our Lady is always surprised when friends here in middle Tennessee who enjoy reading confess they’ve never attended SFOB.  She wants to ask them, “WHAT are your priorities?” She holds up as an example her friend Peter and his twin Laura, who plan their birthday celebration around the 3-day event each year. Southern Fest is way better than any birthday cake and  ice cream.

For the uninitiated, here’s how the festival works: There’s a schedule online, but you’ll want to check the printed schedule at the festival for any last-minute changes of sessions. Some sessions will feature just one author; others may feature a panel of two to four authors. Sessions last either an hour or an hour and a half. Sessions may include readings and/or Q&As. Immediately after a session, the authors go to the signing colonnade on the Legislative Plaza, where you can get them to sign the book you just purchased from the handy-dandy Southern Fest bookstore also located on the Plaza.

Publishers, booksellers and other writing-related organizations have booths at the festival. There are also food vendors and a few stages for entertainment, including a children’s stage and a cooking stage.

The only problem with Southern Fest is that at any given hour, there are just too many good sessions to attend. Our Lady has poured over the schedule and has these recommendations based on her own biases for poetry, music, faith and religion, many of the  “little names”  at the festival, as Ms. Cheap said in her column yesterday, and all things Southern. You’ll note she sometimes has more than one recommendation for the same time slot, leaving the really hard decisions to you. This is a good time for her to mention that it’s not out of the question for you to quietly enter or leave a session in progress, as long as it is not hers. For her session, you’d better get there on time, sit and smile the whole time, and offer generous, thunderous applause throughout the session.

Attend and enjoy!

OUR LADY’S PICKS follow, complete with links to the authors’ or books’ websites, when available. (The benefits of this blog! Even Southern Fest doesn’t give you that!) If you’re an author and Our Lady didn’t use your preferred link, just post a comment or let herknow. (more…)


Heaven Was the Moon As some of you already know, my poetry chapbook, Heaven Was the Moon, is out! It’s a little perfect-bound collection of 28 poems, published by March Street Press, and of course I’m very excited about it.

My first public event for the book will be at the Southern Festival of Books on Sunday, October 11th, from 2-3 pm, with a signing to follow. I hope to have a big hometown crowd – but those of you who may be in for the festival from other parts of the state or the Southeast, I’ll be glad to see you, too.

My session partner is Brett Eugene Ralph, a poet and musician who leads the Kentucky Chrome Revue band. Between Brett and my daughter Kelsey, we’re hoping to have a little music to go along with the reading.

Our session is listed as The Every Day in Words-New Voices in Southern Poetry : Brett Eugene Ralph, Kory Wells, in the Capitol Library. See for the full schedule.

I’m in the process of scheduling other readings, both in middle Tennessee and further away – any place there’s a poetry-friendly crowd! I’ll be keeping folks posted about new events. If you’re interested in me giving a reading and/or “talk” or workshop for your group, either in the balance of this year or in 2010, let me know.

My books are not yet in stores or online, but they are in the trunk of my car. Update: see my website for a current list of ways to buy Heaven Was the Moon. And of course they will be at SFOB. If you can’t make SFOB and would like me to mail you a signed copy, the cost is $11 – $9 for the book plus $2 S/H.

Visit the home page on my website for more about the book, including a few nice things Bill Brown, Linda Parsons Marion, and Darnell Arnoult have said about it:

Thanks for joining me in celebrating this little milestone on the journey. I hope to see you soon!

Coming Tuesday: Which Sessions to Attend Other than Kory’s? Our Lady’s Primer and Picks for the Southern Festival of Books

So, in my inaugural post on August 6th, I said I’d like to promote Tennessee writers on my blog, and on August 10th, this arrives in my inbox:

This fall, Humanities Tennessee will launch a new website, to be called Chapter 16: A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers and Passersby. We hope and expect that this site will become a regular stop for readers, a place where you will learn about upcoming Tennessee books and events and discuss those and other topics with one another. We’ll cover novels set here; histories involving Tennessee events or locations; authors who live here, were born or educated here; and out-of-state writers when they give readings or participate in book signings anywhere in the state. Additionally, there will be opportunities for anyone statewide to submit their original essays for possible publication on the site. We will be asking diverse Tennesseans to comment on what they are reading, and we will be providing opportunities for writers and readers to interact online.

Read the full announcement here.

I dont mean to offer a grass is greener platitude...

Now, I already love Humanities Tennessee because they put on one of my favorite events of the year, the Southern Festival of Books. But I am just a wee bit chagrined that this fine organization would steal my thunder practically before its first rumble. I’ll get over it, though, because here’s the bigger picture:  I have state-based literary jealousy. In North Carolina and Kentucky, for example, its seems that readings and famous authors and book events are as common as summer showers. When I visited the Northwest last year, I was stunned by the number and variety of quality regional journals that I found in bookstores from Portland to Port Angeles.

I don’t mean to sound like a “grass is greener” platitude;  I truly believe that Tennessee can and should look to these other states for inspiration. It’s not that we don’t have our own rich literary heritage, many fine writers, and some great events for writers and readers; it’s that we’ve never seemed to be as unified and proactive as we could be in promoting all those things. So kudos and all best wishes to Humanities Tennessee with Chapter 16.