Tennessee Mountain Writers


January 2012

Editor’s Note

Don't be surprised if you hear plenty about Charles Dickens this year.  February 8th, 2012, marks the 200th anniversary of his birth, in Portsmouth, England.  Much though I admired the man's attitude to the injustices of Victorian England, I've never been an ardent follower of his work.  True, I read A Christmas Carol when I was about nine years old and enjoyed it.  I even caught some of the humor, but I hated Barnaby Rudge, when forced to study it at school, and never became a fan of Nicholas Nickleby or David Copperfield. (I only liked the songs in the musical Oliver!)  I realize that Dickens is much loved around the world, but Dickens stories just aren't for me.

Still, I am staggered by the amount of work he managed to achieve with mere pen and ink.  Most of his books, though written and published as installments, are thick tomes. There are stories, I think, untrue, that he was paid by the word, but he certainly scratched out millions of words over the course of his writing career. He died just two years after the first commercially successful typewriter was developed, in 1868.

This January has seen birthday celebrations for another British writer, the physicist, Stephen Hawking.  His book, A Brief History of Time, has sold more than 10 million copies around the world. That he was able to compose it all is an amazing feat.  Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, in his early twenties, and told he would live only a few more years.  This is true for the majority of sufferers, but Hawking just celebrated his 70th birthday.  Sadly, he was too sick to attend the conference held at the University of Cambridge in his honor, but he sent a message. 

He cannot speak; yet, many of us are familiar with his “voice.”   Most of his body is paralyzed, but he for years he retained control over a muscle in his thumb, which enabled him to use a mechanism to indicate words.  A special computer ran the software and also allowed his text to be converted to that slightly robotic voice.  Now, a muscle just below his eye is his connection to the outside world.  He continues to write scientific works with these aids.

The original program resulted in the production of four words per minute.  Imagine how frustrating that must be.  I struggled with handwriting as a child.  My hand just could not keep up with the thoughts in my brain.  I found writing with pencil and fountain pen tedious and exasperating, not to mention messy.  I am so grateful for the ease of writing on a computer.

Given the challenges Dickens and Hawking faced, most of us have little reason to avoid recording our thoughts.  We have so much technology to ease our construction of sentences, paragraphs and stanzas. Keyboards require only a light touch.  We can move huge chunks of text, or replace single word many times throughout a long manuscript.

So, there are very few excuses for you not to create, revise and complete an entry, or even several entries, for the TMW competition.  Entries must be postmarked, or emailed to contests@tmwi.org, no later than February 1st, 2012.  Manuscripts for evaluation during the conference should be sent by March 1st, 2012.  Do it, as the conference motto declares, write this minute!

Margaret Pennycook


Chairman’s Message

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and that you’re ready to start thinking “writing” again!

We’ve kicked the new year off with January Jumpstart XII. Cary Holladay, the author of five volumes of fiction and a faculty member at the University of Memphis, led our fiction track; poetry was led by Marianne Worthington, associate professor of Communication at University of the Cumberlands.  If you missed this year gathering, it’s not too early to write a reminder for next towards the end of the new diaries and calendars you received for Christmas.

By now you should have received the brochure for our 24th annual conference, scheduled for March 29-31, at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. If you didn’t get one, or if you’ve misplaced yours, all the information and a registration form can be found on our website, www.tmwi.org.  We have an online registration and payment option this year, if you’d prefer to avoid snail mail.  As always, special thanks to board member K’Cindra Cavin for her hard work on the layout and production of the brochure, as well as its counterpart on the website.

DON’T FORGET that the deadline for conference contest entries is February 1.  We also have an electronic contest submission option this year; entries can be sent to contests@tmwi.org.  See the registration form for entry rules.

I’d like to remind you, too, that we have funds available to support a limited number of conference scholarships under our Don Scalf Scholarship program.  Scholarships are based on financial need and interest in writing, and cover full conference attendance.  Applications are due by February 1; email scholarships@tmwi.org for more information.

I wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2012, and I hope to see you at the conference!

Carol Grametbauer


Tennessee Mountain Writers

Annual Conference

Write this minute!

March 29-31, 2012

Banquet and General Session Speaker

Lorraine Lopez

Sessions include

Fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, writing for young people, editing, e-book publishing, writing without a publisher, promotion, social media and songwriting.

For information on faculty, registration and competitions go to www.tmwi.org

Early registration ends March 15, 2012.

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


Learning Events


From Ideas to Chapbook: Four Weekends of Poetry


From Ideas to Chapbook: Four Weekends of Poetry

The 12-month course requires a commitment from participants to attend the scheduled weekend workshops; to keep an image/idea notebook; to write a new poem each week during the time period between workshops; to share the new, though rough, poems through email with assigned partners; to work toward revising drafts created for the weekly assignments and during the weekend workshops; to share for work-shopping purposes about sixty lines of poetry at Weekend 2 and 3; to deal positively with the work of other participants; to write and revise sufficient poems (20 to 26) by Weekend 4 to form a chapbook

APRIL 21 – 22, 2012             Weekend 1: Finding the Poems

In this first workshop, we write poems from prompts and we explore ideas about what makes a poem. We examine poems that effectively use imagery, figurative language, rhythm, and meter. We discuss keeping a poetry idea journal, reading well-wrought poems on a regular basis, and other methods to keep ourselves writing.

AUGUST 4 – 5, 2012             Weekend 2: Forming the Poems

The second workshop continues with prompts and writing of poems. We study examples of closed form (sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, pantoums, and others) and open form, examining particularly successful uses of line breaks. We discuss strategies for revision. Each participant brings a worksheet (sufficient copies to distribute to all participants) of two of his or her own poems, not to exceed a total of 60 lines, for group review.

OCTOBER 27 – 28, 2012      Weekend 3: Looking for Threads and Themes

In the third workshop we continue to write from prompts. Each participant again brings a worksheet of two poems for critique/discussion, and as well a body of poems for his or her own use. The latter poems should be reasonably polished, probably at least fourth or fifth drafts (maybe fiftieth!), and should number at least twenty and perhaps much more. Previously published poems (in journals, anthologies, online) may be included with work created during the course. We examine published chapbooks for examples of organization and cohesion.

JANUARY 26 – 27, 2013      Weekend 4: Presenting the Chapbook

In the fourth and final workshop, we again write from prompts (time to begin planning that second chapbook!). Participants share results of research into possible chapbook markets (contests, open submissions, self-publishing opportunities). Each person presents his or her completed chapbook and reads for ten or fifteen minutes from the work.

Connie Jordan Green lives on a farm in East Tennessee where she writes and gardens.  She is the author of two award-winning novels for young people (The War at Home and Emmy) and two books of poetry (Slow Children Playing and Regret Comes to Tea). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She taught literature and creative writing for the University of Tennessee, and continues to lead writing workshops. She and her husband have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

The cost of the workshop will be $225.00 per weekend due two weeks before each workshop. All workshops will be held in the former Orr Mountain Winery building between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tenn.  Sessions will run 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 – 3:30 Sunday, Eastern Time.  Morning snacks, coffee, hot tea, etc., will be available.  We will break for lunch from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 – 12:30 Sunday.  Soft drinks, water and lunch will be provided both days.  Saturday night dinner will be on your own, with a suggested restaurant of the day for those who want to eat with group members.

The Magnuson Hotel, exit 60 off I-75, is offering a special rate of $39.99 per night for 1 – 2 people for course participants.  Rooms at the Magnuson are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and wireless internet.  There is an indoor pool AND a hot tub.  Mention Learning Events/Sue Richardson Orr when making reservations. Phone number is 423-337-3541.  There are various other motels at that exit.

** Please e-mail Sue at theorrs@usit.net or call 423-420-1152 if you want to register. **

Workshop group is limited to 14.




REGISTRATION FORM for From Ideas to Chapbook 4 week-end series

Cost $225.00 per week-end                        Date/dates paid for_______________

Name_____________________________          e-mail __________________________

Address___________________________          phone __________________________

____________________________  cell phone _______________________

Check to Sue Richardson Orr enclosed for _____________

Mail to:

Sue Richardson Orr

359 Pumpkin Hollow Rd

Madisonville, TN 37354


Member News

TMW Chairman, Carol Grametbauer, reports,  “I've had a poem ("Missa Brevis") published in the November 2011 issue of POEM, and will have another ("Hiking Stick") in the Winter 2011 issue of Appalachian Heritage.

Connie Green says, “I recently learned I won 1st place in the Still Journal poetry contest. I also now have in hand a copy of Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets, an anthology in which my poem “Maybe, Tomatoes” appears. The book was produced by The Academy of American Poets. I’m happy to be there with Robert Frost, Gary Snyder, Marianne Moore, Rita Dove, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and enough others to make 100 poems.”

Congratulations to both.  Connie, that’s some company you are keeping.

Barbara Bates Smith sent this link to her website www.barbarabatessmith.com, which details her various performances, including her adaptations of Lee Smith’s work for the stage.

Chris Roerden, the Editing presenter at last year's conference, sent this message.  “Please remind any unpublished writers of mystery that we're drawing close to the postmark deadline for the McCloy-MWA scholarship (up to $500 to each of 2 mystery writers for taking writing classes and courses). No entry fees of any kind, no membership requirements. Full details at http://mysterywriters.org (click in sidebar on McCloy scholarship). I'm the national chair, and I can send any interested writer our FAQs and answer questions, not at this email address but at mccloy-mwa@lycos.com.”

If you have any information about your successes or events of interest to writers, please send them to me at mspenners@mac.com.