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Congratulations to this year's winners!
Doris Gove grew up on a farm in Massachusetts, where she learned to love salamanders, toads, birds, trees, and wildflowers. After writing a boring dissertation on snake behavior, she taught biology and began writing books for children about animal and plant life histories. She is the author of the children’s books One Rainy Night, A Water Snake’s Year, Miracle at Egg Rock, My Mother Talks to Trees, and Red-Spotted Newt. Her other books include the Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: Southeast, 50 Hikes in the Tennessee Mountains, Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Hikes in the Southern Appalachians, and Great Smoky Mountains Trivia. A resident of Knoxville, Gove is retired from the University of Tennessee, where she was a science journal editor. She leads hikes for Elderhostel groups and writes newsletter articles for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Like many writers, she has file folders of rejected manuscripts that may someday get published. One is an autobiography of a copperhead.
Charles Dodd White
Charles Dodd White lives in East Tennessee. He is a recipient of the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for excellence in Appalachian literature, a Jean Ritchie Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University, and an individual artist’s grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
He is author of the novels, In the House of Wilderness, A Shelter of Others, Lambs of Men, and the story collection, Sinners of Sanction County. He is also editor of the contemporary Appalachian story anthologies, Degrees of Elevation and Appalachia Now. His work has appeared in Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Writing, Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia, Appalachian Heritage, The Louisville Review, North Carolina Literary Review, The Rumpus, Tusculum Review, and other publications.
White served as a tank crewman in the US Marine Corps. He attended Western Carolina University, Spalding University, and Texas A&M. He is an Associate Professor at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville.
A Knoxville native, Wayne Bledsoe began working at the News Sentinel in 1981 as a copy clerk. In 1985, he became the paper’s full-time music and entertainment writer, telling the stories of local artists in a compelling way that made them come alive on the page.
In his 30-plus years, Bledsoe has interviewed and written feature stories about many legends, including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Kurt Vonnegut, and Elvis Costello. He also has written stories about young hopefuls, and under-appreciated greats in music and the arts. His work has been translated into several languages and has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world, including Delta Sky, Tennessee Alumnus, Bluegrass Now, PS, and Country Weekly.
Bledsoe hosts and books talent for the WDVX-FM radio shows “The 6 O’Clock Swerve” and “All Over the Road.” He is a graphic artist and has illustrated and designed album covers, posters, and a line of T-shirts. He currently writes for Blank News.
His book Arthur Q. Smith: The Trouble with the Truth, co-written with Bradley Reeves and released as part of Bear Family CD package by the same name, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Notes.
Linda Parris-Bailey is the Executive/Artistic Director of the Knoxville-based Carpetbag Theatre, a professional, multigenerational ensemble dedicated to the production of new works. She is the primary Playwright in Residence for the theatre company and is the recipient of a 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award in Theater.
Parris-Bailey discovered playwriting in 9th grade and has been writing ever since. She says she is best suited to be a playwright because writing for the theatre lends itself to working with people and sharing stories, which have always appealed to her.
Her story-based plays with music are focused on themes of transformation and empowerment. The premier of her 2012 work, Speed Killed My Cousin, was featured as the opening event of the Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Micro-Fest in Appalachia. The play, about a young African-American female veteran of the Iraq War, received a 2014 New England Foundation for the Arts National Theatre Project Award. Parris-Bailey's play Dark Cowgirls and Prairie Queens is considered the signature work for Carpetbag Theatre and continues to tour and be produced nationally. Additionally, she wrote Between a Ballad and the Blues, which chronicles the life and music of the African-American-Appalachian Renaissance man Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong and his musical partners.
After attending a workshop taught by novelist Peter Taylor, Brian Griffin abandoned a career in photography to become a writer.
Griffin holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia. A former Director of Lifespan Religious Education at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Tennessee, and Pellissippi State Community College. He was the first Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at the UT Libraries.
His fiction and poetry have been published in a number of literary journals, including Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, New Millennium Writings, Asheville Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, Poems and Plays, Snake Nation Review, Clockwatch Review, New Delta Review, The Distillery, Mixitini Matrix, A Tapestry of Voices: An East Tennessee Anthology, Knoxville Bound, Metro Pulse, Number Inc, and elsewhere. He received the Mary McCarthy Award for Short Fiction for his collection Sparkman in the Sky and Other Stories, which the New York Times compared to Ernest Hemingway’s early work, calling the stories “a collective exemplar of how things go in a certain place in our time.” His cycle of poems about the shooting at TVUUC, Single Lens Reflex, is a finalist in the 2018 National Poetry Series.
Scott Miller was raised on a cattle farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and graduated from the College of William and Mary, but will tell you he didn’t grow up until he moved to Knoxville in 1990.
He began honing his songwriting in local bars around town, most notably a weekly gig at the now-defunct Hawkeye’s Corner, as well as at regional shows. By the mid 1990’s, he was a founding member of the V-Roys, known as the thinking man’s party band. In 1997, the V-Roys appeared with Steve Earle on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. In 2009, a full ten years after playing their last show at the Tennessee Theatre, the V-Roys were voted Knoxville’s “Best Band Ever.”
After the V-Roys split up in 1999, Miller continued a solo career with a backing band he called “The Commonwealth” and made records for the Sugar Hill label until he formed his own label, F.A.Y. Recordings, in 2007. He continued to tour the U.S. and the U.K., while still based in Knoxville.
His songs are strongly rooted in Appalachia and influenced by geography and a sense of place. Miller has gained critical acclaim for a style of writing built of stories and traditional music known as “Americana.” His most recent album, Ladies Auxiliary, is his tenth studio recording since leaving the V-Roys. Several of his songs have been covered by other artists or used in movies and on television.
Miller currently lives in Staunton, Virginia, and runs the family cattle farm.
Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933. His family moved to Knoxville when McCarthy was four. He attended Catholic High School, then the University of Tennessee, where he published two stories in the student literary magazine and won awards from the Ingram-Merrill Foundation.
While living in Chicago and working as an auto mechanic, McCarthy wrote his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. He then moved back to East Tennessee, living briefly in Sevier County. McCarthy completed his next novel, Outer Dark, while living on the island of Ibiza, where he settled after a tour of Europe. His third book, Child of God, was inspired by actual events that occurred in Sevier County and was written while McCarthy was living in Louisville, Tennessee. After moving to Texas in 1976, McCarthy published his fourth novel, Suttree, which he had been working on for almost 20 years. Blood Meridian, his next book, signaled his transition to western themes and settings. All the Pretty Horses began McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, which also included The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. In 1988, McCarthy moved from Texas to the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he currently lives and where he wrote No Country for Old Men and The Road.
Blood Meridian and Suttree are widely considered McCarthy’s best works. All the Pretty Horses won a National Book Award for Fiction and a National Book Critics Circle Award. No Country for Old Men was adapted into a film by Joel and Ethan Cohen in 2007 and won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Road was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Literature and also won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.
Over the years, McCarthy received a number of awards that supported his writing career, including a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in 1966, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981. In 2008, he received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. In addition to his novels, McCarthy has written several acclaimed plays and screenplays.
John Rice Irwin
Outstanding Contribution to East Tennessee Culture and Literacy
Born in 1930 of pioneer ancestors who settled in Union County in the 1700's, John Rice Irwin spent much of his childhood learning to love all aspects of Appalachian life and its colorful people. In 1935, the family moved a few miles southwest of Clinton when their Big Valley home place was covered with the waters created by the building of Norris Dam. Their new home was also taken by the U.S. government—this time for the building of the Oak Ridge installations in 1942.
The family settled on a farm on Mountain Road near Norris, where Irwin learned to farm, hunt, trap, and appreciate rural Appalachia. After high school, he enrolled in Tennessee Tech University, but joined the U.S. Army infantry shortly thereafter. Following his military service, he graduated from Lincoln Memorial University and earned a master's from the University of Tennessee. Irwin taught school for several years and was then elected three times as School Superintendent of Anderson County -- the youngest in the state at the time. In his spare time, he traveled the remote areas of Southern Appalachia, collecting over a quarter of a million items, which he used in founding and developing the internationally renowned Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee.
He has authored several noteworthy books on Appalachian history and culture, including Alex Stewart: Portrait of a Pioneer, Guns and Gunmaking Tools of Southern Appalachia, A People and Their Quilts, Musical Instruments of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Baskets and Basket Makers in Southern Appalachia, A People and Their Music: The Story Behind the Story of Country Music, and The Unlikely Story of the Museum of Appalachia and How It Came to Be.
Considered to be one of the leading authorities on the history, culture, and music of the Southern Appalachian region, Irwin has lectured on the subject throughout the Eastern US and has garnered many awards and honors. A recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Irwin has also been honored by the East Tennessee Historical Society as one of nine prominent area residents whose accomplishments have distinguished them far beyond East Tennessee.
Frances Hodgson Burnett
By the end of the 19th century, Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of the world’s most famous authors. However, many people don’t realize that she got her start as a writer in Knoxville 150 years ago this year.
Near the end of the Civil War, Burnett's widowed mother moved with her five children from Manchester, England, to East Tennessee, where relatives lived. After a stay in New Market, the family moved to Knoxville, renting a cottage on what is now College Street, but which was then on the outskirts of town. Burnett nicknamed the house “Noah’s Ark” because of its precarious perch on a hillside, which she called “Mount Ararat.” The hillside later became the site of Knoxville College.
In the nearby trees and blackberry thicket, Burnett cleared a spot she dubbed “the Bower.” Many days, she followed a familiar bird through the woods and hid for hours between the walls of foliage, much as the heroine in her novel The Secret Garden retreated to a secluded area, led there by a bird.
Burnett had written stories for several years, but, in Knoxville, the family’s poverty forced her to try to sell her work. After enlisting her sister and other neighborhood children to pick and sell fruit to earn money for postage, she submitted a manuscript to Godey’s Lady’s Book. The story, titled “Hearts and Diamonds,” was published in June 1868. Within a few years, she was regularly published in Godey’s, Peterson’s Ladies’ Magazine, Scribner’s Monthly, and Harper’s.
In 1869, Burnett and her family relocated downtown to a house on the riverbank called Vagabondia Castle. In 1873, she was married, and a few years later, she, her husband, and son moved to Washington, DC, where she continued writing. Her most famous and successful book, Little Lord Fauntleroy, was published in 1886, followed by The Little Princess (originally titled Sara Crewe) in 1905 and The Secret Garden in 1909, as well as other books and plays. In total, she published over 40 novels.
After spending over a decade in England, Burnett returned to the US in 1909, building a house on Long Island, where she died in 1924.
When Don Whitehead was 10 years old, he wrote a story about a murder he witnessed. Several days later, he approached the editor of the local newspaper with the article and learned a lesson about timeliness. "Can't use it, son," the editor said. "Everybody in town knows about that shooting."
Whitehead was born in 1908, in Inman, Virginia. He was on staff of the college newspaper while attending the University of Kentucky, before leaving college in 1928 to work for the LaFollette Press. In 1930, he returned to Kentucky to work for the Harlan American and later for the Harlan Enterprise. In 1934, he became a reporter for the Knoxville Journal, and a year later he joined the Associated Press, where he covered the early development of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Whitehead's talent earned him a promotion to the AP's New York bureau in 1941, just as the US was entering World War II. He began his career as a war correspondent in 1942, and earned the nickname "Beachhead Don" because he was present at so many Allied landings. He also reported on some of the most dramatic events of the war, including the liberation of Paris, the meeting of Russian and American troops at the Elbe River, and the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
After the war, Whitehead worked as AP bureau chief in Honolulu, and later as a congressional reporter. In 1950, he was assigned to cover the Korean War, where he distinguished himself as one of the top journalists writing about the conflict. In 1951, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the war, the George Polk Memorial Award for wire service reporting, and the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award. In 1952, he won another Pulitzer, this time for international reporting on a secret fact-finding trip to Korea made by President-elect Dwight Eisenhower.
In 1956, he wrote The FBI Story, which was made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart. His other books include Journey into Crime, about international police work; Border Guard, a history of the US Customs Service; and Attack on Terror, a book on the FBI's battle against the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi.
Whitehead left the Associated Press in 1956 to become Washington bureau chief for the New York Herald Tribune. He held the position for a year and a half, before retiring to Knoxville in 1959, where he became a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He died in 1981. At the time of his death, he was one of only seven journalists ever to win two Pulitzer Prizes.
Joseph Wood Krutch
Joseph Wood Krutch was born in Knoxville in 1893. While he may be most remembered for his excellent nature writing, he first came to prominence as a cultural critic.
While attending the University of Tennessee, he was editor of the school’s literary magazine. Eager to attract readers and make his mark, Krutch boldly addressed controversial issues such as liberal education and the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. After completing graduate studies at Columbia University, Krutch joined the editorial staff of The Nation, where he further honed the craft of cultural commentary. In 1925, Krutch was assigned to cover the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. For Krutch, the Scopes trial highlighted the differences between the country’s rural population and the more educated, sophisticated urbanites. In his dispatches from Dayton, as in his other cultural commentaries during the 1920’s, Krutch aligned himself squarely with the latter. In 1929, Krutch wrote his most durable work of cultural commentary, The Modern Temper, an examination of the dilemmas and moral questions faced by modern man.
In 1937, Krutch left The Nation to accept a faculty position at Columbia University. While at Columbia, he wrote two critical biographies, Samuel Johnson (1944) and Henry David Thoreau (1948), which reflected his growing interest in common-sense philosophy and natural history. Writing the Thoreau book caused Krutch to take a closer look at the natural world and environmental topics and set him on a new course, exploring the profound meaning that can be found in nature.
In 1949, Krutch published The Twelve Seasons, followed by The Desert Year in 1951. In 1952, Krutch and his wife moved to Arizona, and his reputation as a naturalist, nature writer, and early conservationist grew. He wrote The Voice of the Desert in 1954, and travelogues on the Grand Canyon (1957) and the Baja Peninsula (1961). Describing Krutch, Edward Abbey said, “Rational thought. Calm, reasonable, gentle persuasion. It was this quality of moderation in his writing that most impressed me.”
With The Great Chain of Life, published in 1957, Krutch became known as a philosopher of humaneness and came to the attention of animal protection organizations like the Humane Society. He was an active participant in anti-cruelty activities, and in 1965, wrote an article for the Saturday Review condemning animal cruelty in laboratories. In 1968, he was awarded the Humane Society’s Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Krutch died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1970, at age 76. Following his death, the Humane Society renamed its highest honor The Joseph Wood Krutch Medal.
Paul Y. Anderson
Although he was a leading investigative reporter of the era, known by the rich and powerful, Paul Y. Anderson’s name is not nearly well enough known in his home town.
Anderson was born in Knoxville in 1893 and grew up in South Knoxville. At age 18, when he finished high school, he began working as a reporter for the Knoxville Journal.
Anderson left Knoxville in 1912, and spent the rest of his career working for major papers, mainly in their Washington bureaus, where he proved adept at exposing corruption and conspiracies. His work on the Teapot Dome Scandal revealed bribery and perjury involving a Secretary of the Interior, the head of Standard Oil, and an oil industry magnate. For his lengthy work on the scandal, which included getting the Senate to reopen the investigation, Anderson received the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. He also covered the Leopold and Loeb murder trial in Chicago and the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. In 1929, Anderson began writing for The Nation magazine, where he covered efforts of power companies to stop government development of power at Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Through his high-profile assignments, Anderson met and became friends with prominent people, including Clarence Darrow and H.L. Mencken. Later, Mencken used the editorial page of the Baltimore Sun to call Anderson "one of the finest journalists in the country."
When the demands of his job became more than he could handle, Anderson began to drink heavily. He was hospitalized in 1933 and 1934, even receiving a get-well letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His final years were a series of conflicts with editors about his absences and inattention to his job. A series of newspapers fired, rehired, and fired Anderson again.
In late 1938, he took an overdose of sleeping pills, leaving behind a note that his “usefulness was at an end.” At his funeral, Hugo Black, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was a pallbearer. Anderson is buried at the Island Home Baptist Church cemetery beneath an elaborate headstone.
Arthur Q. Smith
James Arthur Pritchett, known professionally as Arthur Q. Smith, was born in Griffin, Georgia, in 1909. He grew up in Harlan, Kentucky, where he worked as a coal miner and began making music. In the 1930’s, he moved to Knoxville, where he became a regular on radio station WNOX.
A remarkably gifted songwriter, Smith became a staff songwriter for King Records in Cincinnati, but was fired from the job, and he and his family moved to Memphis in the late 1940’s. His next stop was Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked at “The Louisiana Hayride” on KWKH-AM. Shortly thereafter, he acted as business manager for the legendary singer-songwriter Hank Williams. When the two men got drunk and didn’t make a show in Little Rock, Smith once again found himself unemployed. He returned to Knoxville, setting up an unofficial office selling songs at the Three Feathers Tavern, at the corner of Gay Street and Jackson Avenue.
While Smith's songs were being recorded and performed by many popular artists, he rarely received credit for his work. A severe alcoholic, he regularly sold his songs outright for as little as $15, sometimes just to pay off a bar tab. It was the buyers' name who appeared on the recording credits, not Smith's. He did, however, often keep a record of who he had sold the song to by writing the buyers' names in the corner of his own handwritten lyric sheets.
There is no way to know how many songs Smith wrote that he never got credit for. However, the many songs known to have been written by Smith include: "Rainbow at Midnight" and "Missing In Action," both hits for Ernest Tubb, "Wedding Bells," recorded by both Hank Williams and Margaret Whiting, "I Overlooked an Orchid (While Looking for a Rose)," a hit for both Carl Smith and Mickey Gilley, and "Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday," recorded by the Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams, and many others.
Smith kept half of the rights to the song "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," which became a hit for Ricky Skaggs long after Smith's death, and provided his family with more money than Smith had made songwriting during his lifetime. In the 1980s, prompted somewhat by writer Wayne Potter, legendary songwriter Harlan Howard wrote the song "Be Careful Who You Love (Arthur's Song)" in tribute to Smith. It has been recorded by both Hank Williams Jr. and Marty Stuart.
By the late 1950’s, Smith’s songs were no longer in demand. In 1961, he had a heart attack, and the following year he was diagnosed with cancer. On March 21, 1963, at the age of 53, he died in a rundown hotel on Vine Avenue with less than 10 cents in his pockets.
Born in Knoxville in 1882, Harry McClintock was an adventurer who left home to join the circus. Later, he worked as a railroad man in Africa, was a mule-train packer in the Philippines--supplying American troops with food and ammunition--and even found his way to China, where he was an aide to newsmen covering the Boxer Rebellion.
Through his travels, McClintock developed a strong sympathy for drifters, later expressed in tunes such as "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" and "The Bum Song." At 16, he began playing music on the streets. This was when he wrote his first song, "Big Rock Candy Mountain," based on fairy tales he had heard growing up, conjuring up images of houses built out of sweet cakes and candy. By 1905, the song had become so popular that McClintock printed packs of cards with the lyrics printed on them. He wrote "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" in 1902, following his involvement with labor organizations. He was a lifelong member of Industrial Workers of the World and helped organize union men in the oil fields of west Texas in the early 1920’s.
McClintock, also known as Haywire Mac, got his big radio break in San Francisco in 1925, with a program aimed at children. A few years later, he made his first recordings for Victor Records. He would continue recording for the label over the next three and a half years, performing solo, with another musician, or with the full orchestral backup of the Haywire Orchestra. Following the end of his Victor contract, McClintock recorded for Decca and a small label, Flex-o-Disc. In total, McClintock made more than 50 records of his original songs and folk classics. He was the first artist to record what are now regarded as classic American folk songs, such as "Red River Valley," "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie," and "Jesse James." Recording both original and classic tunes created problems for McClintock, as some of his original work was passed off as traditional by other artists who wanted to avoid paying royalties. Eventually, he had to file lawsuits to establish the publishing rights for his original songs.
McClintock moved to Hollywood in 1938 to break into the movie business. He appeared in several Gene Autry films, a Durango Kid movie, and a variety of serials at Universal and Republic studios. McClintock also did radio work and wrote articles, plays, and fiction for pulp magazines under pseudonyms. In 1953, he went back to San Francisco, where he appeared on a program entitled “The Breakfast Hour” until 1955. He died in 1957.
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