Literature Stream: Arts at the Confluence: Conversations
September 11 @ 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
First Congregational Church. Book Signing to follow. Free.
Join Pen America Award-winning essayist and New York Times weekly columnist Margaret Renkl, American Book Award winner Janisse Ray, and Emory Professor of Music and Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church Dwight Andrews for conversations exploring the relationship between the environment, arts, and activism. First Congregational Church, September 11, 2022. 2-4 PM. Book Signing to follow.
The author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (2019) and Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South (2021) (winner of the Southern Book Prize for Nonfiction), Margaret Renkl grew up in Alabama and is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina. She is a devoted reader and an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads. Now living in Nashville, Renkl writes “to preserve what we’re in love with.” Her work suggests an astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. Yet, she warns, “We are watching an apocalypse unfold in our own backyards, and it’s alarming, and it’s tragic, and it’s heartbreaking.” PBS News Hour interviewer, notes that in her opinion pieces for the New York Times, Renkl tackles “climate change, racial justice, and environmental issues from her ‘blue dot” hometown in a red state.”
Janisse Ray explores the borderlands of nature and culture. Her first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (1999) was a New York Times Notable, and her recent Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World beyond Humans (2021) won the Donald L. Jordan Prize for Literary Excellence. Her nonfiction and eco-poetry have won the American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, Southern Book Prize, and Southern Environmental Law Center Writing Award.
As she tells in Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Ray grew up in South Georgia in a “junkyard along U.S. Highway 1.” Thereafter, she earned an MFA from the University of Montana and now lives on an organic farm inland from Savannah. As a naturalist and environmental activist, Ray writes about endangered habitats and species and about humans’ destructive behaviors with empathy and truth to “replace our static hope about climate change with active love for mother earth.”
Dwight Andrews, Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church and Emory University Professor of Music, was introduced to jazz in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, where he formed his first band, The Seven Sounds. He earned a BA and MA in Music at the University of Michigan, and a Master of Divinity and a PhD in Music Theory from Yale. As the Yale Repertory’s resident music director, Andrews composed the original scores for most of renowned playwright August Wilson’s Broadway productions, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Seven Guitars. He also has composed numerous movie and television scores.