The James Agee Online Reading Series returns this fall, continuing a tradition that started seven years ago as an on-campus literature conference at Pellissippi State Community College.
This year’s authors are James E. Cherry and Jane Harrington.
“By rethinking the conference as an online reading series that will be available on YouTube throughout the academic year, we can reach a wider audience,” said conference founder Charles Dodd White, an award-winning author and associate professor of English at Pellissippi State. “We are encouraging instructors to use it in their classrooms, but the reading series is free and open to the public as well.”
White, who just wrapped up a book tour for his latest book, “A Year Without Months,” created the James Agee Conference for Art and Literature to give Pellissippi State students an opportunity to attend a scholarly conference while also celebrating the literature, culture and arts of Appalachia.
The online reading series continues in the spirit of the original conference, he said, but allows Pellissippi State to expand its featured writers beyond Appalachia to the general Southeast. Their readings are recorded, not live, and will include the authors’ thoughts on writing and publishing in addition to sharing from their books.
First up is Cherry, the author of a poetry chapbook, two full collections of poetry and two novels. He has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Lillian Smith Book Award and was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fiction. Cherry has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and lives in Tennessee with his wife, Tammy.
Later this fall, White will post a reading by Harrington, who has published books for the youth market and now crafts literary fiction, creative nonfiction and lyric prose. Her writing has been short-listed for prizes both nationally and internationally, and her novel “In Circling Flight” was awarded the 2019 Brighthorse Prize. Harrington is a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and teaches word craft and literature as a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
“Each of these writers embodies what is best about writing the region,” White said. “They document the difficult and complicated truths that aren’t subject to the reductiveness of larger narratives about place. There are no easy answers offered. Instead, it’s the quality of the questions they pose that matter.”
For a link to both readings, please visit www.pstcc.edu/agee.