LOST SOUTHERN VOICES VIRTUAL FESTIVAL presents William Gay, Southern Author, Southern Painter by Dawn Major

Thursday, March 24, 2022
Panel 1 – Literature, Art, and Music from Lost Southern Voices
1 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Josh Russell
Jim Clark: Don West, poet and social activist
Caroline Herring: Hedy West, musician
Dawn Major: William Gay, author and painter

Register here.
SEE BELOW FOR FULL SCHEDULE & FESTIVAL INFORMATION

The sixth Revival: Lost Southern Voices is March 24 – 26, 2022. Revival: Lost Southern Voices is a festival for readers that celebrates historically excluded, erased, or marginalized Southern voices. During this annual conference, invited presenters discuss Southern authors or artists whose works are out-of-print or otherwise do not receive the attention they deserve. We invite the public, scholars, students, writers, and inquisitive readers to join the conversation as we continue to discover and revive these Lost Southern Voices. The conference will be virtual again this year, and we have six truly exciting panels. There will be two Zoom panels each day of the conference, one at 1 p.m. ET, and the other at 4 p.m. ET. Several are themed on specific authors or events in Atlanta’s past.

We do want to take a moment here to remember our dear friend Valerie Boyd, who we lost recently. We will be dedicating this conference to her and honoring her memory throughout. Valerie was a brilliant author and scholar, bringing to the fore the voices of Black women authors, and championing the literary arts and literacy. Valerie’s Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston gave voice to a pioneer of African American literature. Boyd also focused her scholarship on the life and work of Alice Walker, exploring lesser-known aspects of the author’s oeuvre, such as her poetry and short stories. She was the senior consulting editor for the Bitter Southerner and an editor-at-large for UGA Press. Her last two books are forthcoming: Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker and Bigger Than Bravery: Black Writers on the Year That Changed the World. Among Valerie’s many, many accomplishments and projects, she was a longtime supporter of this conference, where she has presented her research on Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston, and was set to moderate a panel on Toni Cade Bambara this year (which she’d organized). Valerie’s authorship, scholarship and mentorship are a huge loss for the literary community. She was a fearless and formidable voice in our literary heritage. Our thoughts are with all those who knew her, all who read her, all who learned from her. You can read our full statement here if you’d like. You may also read Tina McElroy Ansa’s lovely tribute to Valerie in the AJC here. Tina will be presenting on John Oliver Killens at this year’s conference.

Thursday, March 24, 2022
Panel 1 – Literature, Art, and Music from Lost Southern Voices
1 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Josh Russell
Jim Clark: Don West, poet and social activist
Caroline Herring: Hedy West, musician
Dawn Major: William Gay, author and painter
Register here.

Panel 2 – Rediscovering Frank Yerby
4 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Eli Arnold
Valerie Matthews, Yerby scholar
Veronica Watson, Yerby scholar
Matthew Teutsch, Yerby scholar
Register here.

Friday, March 25, 2022
Panel 3 – “It’s Never Been Over”: Generational Trauma and the Atlanta Child Murders
1 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Jessica Handler
Maurice Hobson, historian
Calinda Lee, historian
Vern Smith, journalist
Register here.

Panel 4 – These Bones Are Not My Child: The Life and Work of Toni Cade Bambara
4 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Bambara scholar
Linda Holmes, Bambara biographer
Louis Massiah, Bambara filmmaker
Register here.

Saturday, March 26, 2022
Panel 5 -The Life and Work of John Oliver Killens
1 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Matt Dischinger
Tina McElroy Ansa, novelist and Killens devotee
Register here.

Panel 6 – The Day Atlanta Stood Still: Atlanta and The Legacy of the Orly Plane Crash
4 p.m. ET, Zoom Webinar
Moderator: Jim Auchmutey
Baxter Jones, arts philanthropist
Chris Moser, documentary director
Register here.

As part of this year’s conference, there will be raffles! More information on those is coming soon. Follow the festival on Facebook at @RevivalLostSouthernVoices, Twitter (@RevivalLost) and Instagram (revivallsv) for updates! You can also watch last year’s conference on the Georgia Center for the Book’s YouTube channel here.

William Gay’s Last Novel: Fugitives of the Heart Available Now and Much More!

If you a are fan of William Gay, you do not want to miss this post. William Gay’s last posthumous novel, Fugitives of the Heart, was released by Livingston Press this summer and Signed First Editions are Available on a Limited Basis through Alabama Booksmith. Also, don’t miss my review of Fugitives of the Heart and my Interview with J. Michael White about the novel. Watch the Author Spotlight with Sonny Brewer, J. Michael White, and Jake Reiss where they discuss how the novel came to be. There’s some exciting Upcoming Events as well. Read on!

Author Spotlight Alabama Booksmith Owner, Jake Reiss, and guest speakers, Sonny Brewer, and Michael White

AVAILABLE ON A LIMITED BASIS, HARDCOVER FIRST EDITION COPIES OF FUGITIVES OF THE HEART SIGNED BY SONNY BREWER AND J. MICHAEL WHITE AT: ALABAMA BOOKSMITH

FUGITIVES OF THE HEART BY WILLIAM GAY, reviewed by Dawn Major

Young protagonist Marian Yates doesn’t have much of a chance with the parents he’s been allotted in life. His dad is killed for poaching and his mom is an ailing prostitute and is anything but maternal. She eventually departs the world, leaving Yates orphaned and homeless in rural Tennessee. Yates is a sneakthief, a scavenger, a wanderer, but he’s also a deep thinker and attuned to nature. He’s more at home in the Harrikin than in a warm bed with a roof over his head. Yates loves Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was Gay’s inspiration for this novel. He spends a short time with the Widow Paiton, who introduces him to Twain. Yates, so compelled by the Twain’s words and the adventures, he sneaks in during the day, devouring chapters that had been denied him at night: he read about “Jim and Huck in the flux on the sun-rimpled Mississippi. He could almost smell the hot torpor of the river, seeing the country sliding past, until he was hopelessly snared by Twain.” These passages truly make you see Yates for the innocent he is, despite being thrown into a den of wolves.

Yates’s prized possession is a pocketknife that his friend Black Crowe helped him acquire from Dow Cook’s general store. This negotiation is the inciting incident. Gay followed Anton Chekhov’s theory—essentially, if you write a gun into the first act of a play, it must be fired in the second act. Of course, in Fugitives of the Heart the gun is replaced with a pocketknife. Yates is in love with a girl out of his league who has a bootlegging granny who despises him. Every day is an adventure from hopping box cars heading to Ackerman’s Field to catch the circus, sneaking under the cover of night to beat up the antagonist, Swain, who’s been visiting his mother’s bed, surviving a road trip with a mad iceman (some will recognize the short story, “The Iceman,” which is part of this novel), to saving Black Crowe from a lynch mob and ultimately facing one of life’s toughest lessons—betrayal. TO READ REVIEW IN ITS ENTIRETY VISIT: SOUTHERN LITERARY REIVEW

DAWN MAJOR INTERVIEWS J. MICHAEL WHITE ABOUT WILLIAM GAY’S FUGITIVES OF THE HEART

WILLIAM GAY WITH J. MICHAEL WHITE

DM: Michael, I appreciate you doing this interview about William Gay’s last novel, Fugitives of the Heart. Gay describes this book as “a boy’s coming-of-age in a dying iron ore community of Depression era Tennessee,” and says that he was inspired by Mark Twain’s classic, Huckleberry Finn. What are a few similarities between Huckleberry Finn and Fugitives of the Heart?

JMW: William was a life-long fan of Mark Twain. When he was a kid, they had a small library in the school and he loved to go there and he once asked the librarian how much she had to pay for the privilege of working in the library! Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were readily accessible to him as a school boy and he devoured them. He loved Huck more than Tom and read both books over and over. They were country kids like himself and the books were set in the country and sparked his imagination like nothing had before. In his career as a writer he wrote a book in every genre that he loved to read so doing a homage to Twain had to be part of his oeuvre. The main character, Marion Yates, like Huck, is in his early teens growing up without either of his parents and no home to call his own. His only friend is a black man everyone called Black Crowe. There are scenes set by the Tennessee River and in the end of the book you end up in a cave. William was not one to copy other writers, but this book echoes Twain in many ways, all done in William’s own unique style. TO READ INTERVIEW IN ITS ENTIRETY VISIT: SOUTHERN LITERARY REVIEW

UPCOMING EVENTS: SOUTHERN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, 33RD ANNUAL EVENT IN NASHVILLE, TN WILL FEATURE A PANEL DEDICATED TO WILLIAM GAY FEATURING RICK BRAGG, SONNY BREWER, TOM FRANKLIN, SUAZANNE KINGSBURY, RON RASH, AND J. MICHAEL WHITE ON OCTOBER 9-10, 2021. EXACT TIMES TO BE ANNOUNCED.