Tennessee Mountain Writers Newsletter

Fall 2010



I don’t think I am stating anything controversial, when I assert that writers are good with language. We have chosen it as our means of expression, whether in straightforward journalism, lyrical fiction and nonfiction or poetry. Being deprived of it can be disturbing. Because I am no linguist, when I visit country where English is not the first language of those who live there, I feel nervous, as if some part of me is missing.

This is especially so in countries such as Japan, China and Greece, where the lettering is also beyond me. On the beautiful island of Santorini, in June, I managed to learn the Greek for “good morning” from the hotel cleaning lady, who was very patient with my lack of pronunciation skills, and “thank you” from the CD I had purchased from Borders before I left. Otherwise, it was all Greek to me.

Thanks to five years of study at school, several camping trips and living for a month in a rented house in France, I have a little bit of vocabulary and can ask for food or directions to the bathroom, in French.

On my visit to Paris, this year, I used this minimal skill in a way I had not expected. A pretty girl, aged about fifteen, with a blonde, curly ponytail, attempted to rob me as I was descending into the Metro, near the Louvre. I became aware of her quite dexterous attempt to open my handbag, from behind me, and stepped away down the stairs, when I turned to face her. She lifted her hands in a gesture that implied “I didn’t do anything”, and said much the same. Without thinking, I said, in French, “Don’t touch me.” She shrugged, and went back up the stairs with her two companions.

Checking myself as I walked down to my train, I realized I felt quite calm. There were no fearful sweats or shakes; no trace of panic. I had no idea where they had come from, but speaking those few words had given me a sense that I had retrieved the situation and was in control of it. Words have power.

Of course, that’s not the only reason writers love words.  We love the meanings, the look of them, the sounds they make and the variety that enables us to say the same thing in so many different, nuanced ways.

 A myth used to circulate that the Inuit had hundreds of words for snow. A quite reasonable idea, since they spend so much time on it and are able to recognize changes in it that help them navigate an otherwise white, unremarkable landscape, it just happens to be untrue. English has quite a few words connected to snow. Think of powder, slush, sleet, flakes, flurries and blizzard. In Britain, there are quite a few different forms of rain, from spitting to my mother’s favorite for a heavy downpour, sousing down, not to mention the most common, drizzle. There’s also the famous “raining cats and dogs,” probably a reference to heavy rain leading to flooded streets carrying the bodies of previously dead animals along with the other rubbish of an insanitary 17th century city of London. This summer, we should have been using all sorts of words for heat, but I think we were too hot.

One of the reasons we have so much choice in English words, is because we have borrowed, or stolen, from so many of the world’s languages. Some came from invasions of Britain. We say pig because Anglo Saxons took care of the farm animals, after the Norman invasion, but we say pork because the victors ate the meat and called it by its French name. Some words came from the conquests of the British Empire. The title thug is derived from gangs of assassins in India, thagi, whose habits of strangulation and robbery were considered particularly brutal. Pizza and salsa are considered American English words, thanks to the Italians and Mexicans who brought them to this country. Think how we have integrated the Greek words far and voice into our modern world, with telephone and combined tele with the Latin visio to make television.

So, though I find myself at a loss for words in many foreign countries, I am tapping into their rich seams of words almost every time I write a sentence in English. No wonder our language is such an exciting—and powerful—tool.

Margaret Pennycook


Chairman’s Message

Though as I write this it certainly doesn’t feel like it, fall is here – and with it the approach of our TMW events for 2010-11. As always, your TMW Board of Directors has been in full planning mode all spring and summer, and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed with the results.

Anyone who’s been a follower of Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s columns in the Knoxville News Sentinel over the years won’t want to miss signing up for our October 30 Fall Workshop, when she’ll present an all-day session on nonfiction. Space is limited and getting more so by the day – so if you want to join us, register now! (See registration details below.)

While you’re marking your calendar for the Fall Workshop, don’t forget January Jumpstart XI, coming up on January 14-16, 2011, at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater. Our poetry track will be led by Steve Holt, fiction by Pam Duncan. January will be here before we know it, and it’s not too early to get your registration in.

The theme of our 23rd annual conference, coming up on March 24-26, 2011, is “It’s the Write Time,” and we’ve put together what we believe will be a faculty and program you won’t want to miss. See more details below, and watch the website (www.tmwi.org) for schedule and registration information. And speaking of our website, you can now also join us on Facebook. We hope you’ll “Like” us!  Special thanks to board members Christy French and Melanie Harless for helping us to overcome our fear of social media, and bringing us into the 21st century.

We’re pleased to have welcomed two new members to the TMW board this year: Darnell Arnoult, who was recently named Writer in Residence at Lincoln Memorial University; and Bryan Robertson, quality engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and aspiring writer. Re-elected to new three-year terms in April were K’Cindra Cavin, Connie Green, Wanda Grooms, Daniel Leonard, and Wes Sims. And continuing on the board this year are Vicki Brumback, Beverly Connor, Charles Connor, Christy Tillery French, Melanie Harless, Ruth Ann Maddux, Joyce McDonald, Sue Richardson Orr, Mona Raridon, Jane Sasser, Dorothy Senn, and Judy VanWinkle. It definitely “takes a village” to carry out TMW’s work every year, and these are some of the best, most hard-working villagers I know. My heartfelt thanks go out to every one of them.  

Thanks also, as always, to past board member Margaret Pennycook for continuing to produce and distribute this newsletter.


I hope to see each of you at a TMW event over the coming months! In the meantime, enjoy the fall, and do keep on writing.

 Carol Grametbauer








Saturday, October 30, 2010   9:30A.M. – 3:30 P.M.

Oak Ridge Civic Center - 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike - Oak Ridge, TN 37830



Rheta Grimsley Johnson has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist. Her reporting has won numerous awards, and in 1991 she was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. In 1986 Johnson was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspaper’s Editorial Hall of Fame. Syndicated today by King Features, Johnson’s column appears in about 50 papers nationwide.


About Rheta’s latest book : Nationally syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, winner of the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest reporting, turns her sharp eye on herself in this frank, exhilarating, wise, poignant, and brave memoir. Her territory ranges from childhood memories of ritual pre-interstate trips in the family station wagon to visit foot-washing Baptist relatives to young-girl fixations on the Barbie dolls of the title, from the simultaneous exuberance and proto-feminist doubts of young marriage to the aches of loves lost through divorce and death. Enchanted Evening Barbie will be available for purchase at the workshop.


The workshop will run from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with a break at 12:00 p.m. for lunch, which is included and will be delivered. Meal options will be available after registration. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and snacks before the morning sessions are included.  Registration fee is $85.00.  Participants will be limited so register early. Send registration form and check to TMWI address below.

This project is funded in part under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts

For additional information: please check our website: www.tmwi.org or contact: Sue Richardson Orr - email: theorrs@usit.net


REGISTRATION FORM – fill out and mail in with check made out to TMWI


Name ________________________________________________________

Street ________________________________________________________

City/State/zip code______________________________________________

Phone _______________    e-mail _____________________  amount enclosed _______

Mail to: TMWI Fall Nonfiction Workshop

P.O. Box 5435

Oak Ridge, TN 37831-5435


Tennessee Mountain Writers and Tennessee Writers Alliance present


What?? Again?? Yep, it’s time… to mark your calendars for January Jumpstart XI on January 14 - 16, 2011, at the Magnuson Hotel (formerly Best Western) in Sweetwater, TN, at exit 60 off I-75. Our Fiction workshop leader will be Pam Duncan and Steve Holt will lead Poetry. Saturday sessions will run 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Pamela Duncan was born in Asheville and raised in Black Mountain, Swannanoa and Shelby, NC, and currently lives in Cullowhee, NC, where she teaches creative writing at Western Carolina University. She holds a BA in Journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in English/Creative Writing from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Her first novel, Moon Women, was a Southeast Booksellers Association Award Finalist, and her second novel, Plant Life, won the 2003 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction. She is the recipient of the 2007 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, awarded by the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Her third novel, The Big Beautiful, was published in March 2007. Visit her website at www.pameladuncan.com.

Steve Holt is the author of three books of poetry: Late Mowing (2000), Elegy for September (2007), and A Tone Poem of Stones (2008). A longtime employee of both the Russell (Ky) Independent Schools and Ohio University Southern, his poetry and career were featured in an episode of Kentucky Life on KET in 2007. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry, as well as Ashland Oil Inc.'s Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence, Holt has led workshops and/or given readings at such places as the Appalachian Writers Workshop, the Appalachian Writers Association, Thomas More College, Northern Kentucky University, Ohio University Southern, the University of Kentucky, East Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee, and TMW’s January Jumpstart V. Poems of his were included in the University Press of Kentucky's Of Woods and Waters: An Anthology of Kentucky Outdoors Writing (2005). Holt and his wife Linda, along with their Llhasa Apso, "Meana," live in extreme Northeastern Kentucky.

This project is funded in part under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Registration fees are $100.00 for TMW or TWA members, $110.00 nonmembers.

Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and snacks before the morning sessions and Saturday lunch are included.

Participants will be limited to 20 per workshop       DEADLINE for registration is Jan. 7, 2011




Room rates are $58.00 + tax for single/double. Call Magnuson Hotel at 423-337-3541and mention TMW.

For additional information: please check our website: www.tmwi.org or contact: Sue Richardson Orr - email: theorrs@usit.net

REGISTRATION FORM - tear off and mail in with check.


TMW/TWA JANUARY JUMPSTART XI  Fri, Jan 14 - Sun, Jan 16, 2011

Name ___________________________       Check one: fiction __  poetry __

Street _______________________________________

City/State/zip code____________________________

Phone _______________ e-mail __________________

Please make checks to TMW: Workshop ___________

TWA membership $25.00    TMW membership $10.00  Total amount enclosed ________

Mail to: TMW/January Jumpstart 2011

P.O. Box 5435

Oak Ridge, TN 37831-5435


Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc

23rd Annual Conference

March 24-26, 2011

The Doubletree Hotel

Oak Ridge TN

The current line-up of session leaders for the conference is:

Poetry - Bill Brown

Nonfiction - Jim Minick

Fiction - Darnell Arnoult

General Session - Darnell Arnoult

Young People - Evelyn Coleman

Editing - Chris Roerden


Special sessions:

Internet Research - Beverly Connor

Playwriting - Lisa Soland

Travel Writing - Gloria Ballard

The deadline for the writing contest associated with the conference is February 1, 2011.




The University of Tennessee in association with the Better English Fund, Writers in the Library, Ready for the World, the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Judaic Studies Program, and the Commission for Women present

The UT Creative Writing series




September 13-             Andrew Farkas, Self-Titled Debut - Fiction

                        M.O. Walsh, The Prospect of Magic - Fiction


September 27 -            Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer Prize, The Late Wife - Poetry


October 17-19-            Marge Piercy Residency


October 17 -    The Art of Blessing the Day – Poetry

7 p.m., Temple Beth El, 3037

Kingston Pike, Knoxville


October 18 -    Informal Chat with Marge Piercy

3 p.m., 1210ñ1211 McClung Tower,

UT campus


Marge Piercy, Poetry of Jewish Identity

                        7 p.m., University Center Auditorium


October 25 -    Suzanne Cleary, Keeping Time; Trick Pear - Poetry

All events take place at 7 p.m. at Hodges

Library Auditorium unless otherwise noted.

All events are free and open to the public.


January 24 -     Jessamyn Ward, Where the Line Bleeds - Fiction


February 7 -     Pamela Uschuk, Crazy Love - Poetry


February 14 -   Kevin Wilson, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth - Fiction

                        Julie Bauer, agent


April 5 -           Bobby Caudle Rogers, Paper Anniversary - Poetry


April 18 -         7 p.m. Undergraduate creative writing award winners

                        8 p.m. Graduate creative writing award winners

Hodges Library Auditorium


For more information

Marilyn Kallet, Director

Creative Writing Program




The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is an EEO/AA/

Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution.

R01-1032-001-001-11. Revisions: 9798


An Invitation from Peggy Paine

Come spend a writing week October 10-16 at the new Doe Branch Ink writers' retreat on 50 acres in the NC mountains, near Asheville.

I'll be facilitating the evening read-your-work sessions and meeting individually with each of the 8 to 10 writers. I hope you can join us. I'm looking forward to a convivial, contemplative, and productive week -- all three in one.

I'm the author of books including the novel, Sister India, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and have taught fiction in the Duke English Department as a Scholar in Residence. (www.peggypayne.com)  Doe Branch Ink is a family-owned retreat, created by Jim Roberts, Deborah Jakubs, and their sons Nick and Logan Roberts, scholars and artists all.

Cost for the week, including housing, meals, and program, start at $600.

Peggy Paine


Member News

TMWI has learned of the death of Roberta Kells Dorr, on Saturday, August 21, 2010, in Richmond, Kentucky.  Ms. Dorr was known to TMW members as a speaker at the annual conference and for her novels, including David and Bathsheba. She was 88 years old.

Pat Hope, co-founder of TMW and chairman for many years, challenged 30 of her poet friends to provide a prompt for a poem, and to write a poem in response to prompts, picked at random, and delivered, daily, by email.  Her challenge lasts for the month of September. While she believes the ideal of 900 new poems in the world by October 1, 2010, is unlikely to be realized, she thinks even half that number would be an achievement. Perhaps other members might develop similar exercises among friends to keep writing muscles in trim. 

Beverly Conner has a new book out, The Night Killer.

Darnell Arnoult is the new writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University. She will be teaching one course per semester and directing the campus literary journal, as well as serving as the co-director of the Mountain Heritage Festival and writing. She will direct a reading series and will bring in writers for genre workshops. Also, Darnell has poems coming out in Now and Then and Appalachian Heritage.

Connie Green has had a chapbook, Regret Comes to Tea, accepted by Finishing Line Press. She received several honorable mentions from the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, in free verse poetry, first chapter of novel, and juvenile fiction. She also received first place in the Knoxville Writers’ Guild Libba Moore Gray poetry contest. She has recently had a poem accepted by Appalachian Heritage.

Christy Tillery French has had a short story accepted by a cat anthology.

Judy DiGregorio has a new book out, Memories of a Loose Woman. Judy was featured on one of WBIR-TV's "Our Stories" segments, on September 8.

Congratulations to all.

If you have something you’d like to share with TMWI members, please email me, Margaret Pennycook, mspenners@mac.com.