Clarksville, Tennessee, was a pivotal center of the Southern Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s. Writers of the era living in Clarksville included Robert Penn Warren, Evelyn Scott, Caroline Gordon and Allen Tate. Additional writers, including Cleanth Brooks, Ford Madox Ford, Donald Davidson, Katherine Ann Porter, Robert Lowell, Andrew Lytle, Malcolm Cowley, Frances and Brainard Cheney and others gathered to write and discuss their work at "Benfolly," Tate and Gordon's home overlooking the banks of the Cumberland River. Their Clarksville home became a Mecca for writers of the Southern Renaissance, and from that site poured literature which enriched the American scene. In that great tradition, we offer you the Nineteenth Annual Clarksville Writers Conference.

 

 

Thank you to all who attended our 2023 conference! We hope you will make plans to join us for the Nineteenth Annual Clarksville Writers Conference, scheduled for June 5 - 7, 2024.

Below is information from last year's conference. Please stay tuned to our website and social media for updates about our exciting lineup in 2024. In the meantime, we invite you to take part in our Clarksville Writers Contest. The submission deadline has been extended until February 10.

 



David George Haskell

David George Haskell

David George Haskell is a writer and a biologist. His latest book, Sounds Wild and Broken, was selected by The New York Times as an "Editor's Choice" and is finalist for the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

His previous books, The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees are acclaimed for their integration of science, poetry, and rich attention to the living world. Among their honors include the National Academies' Best Book Award, John Burroughs Medal, finalist for Pulitzer Prize, Iris Book Award, Reed Environmental Writing Award, and National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature. Haskell is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Visit David George Haskell on the web at www.dghaskell.com.


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David Alford

David Alford

A native and resident of Adams, Tennessee (pop. 600), David Alford is a graduate of the Juilliard School for Drama. He was the founder and Artistic Director of Mockingbird Theatre in Nashville, and later Executive Artistic Director of Tennessee Repertory Theatre (now Nashville Rep).

David's writing credits include two historical plays produced annually in his hometown: Spirit: The Authentic Story of the Bell Witch of Tennessee and Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders. Other credits include a stage adaptation of Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams (with Brian Niece), the documentary theatre piece Boycott: Pulaski, Tennessee and the Legacy of the Ku Klux Klan, the screenplays On Music Row (MTV Networks), and the independent releases Prisoner, Adrenaline, and Deadbox. His book Living The Dream: The Morning After Drama School (with Brian Horner) is available through Kendall Hunt Publishing.

Visit David Alford on the web at www.davidalford.net.


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Mary Martha Greene

Mary Martha Greene

Mary Martha Greene has been described by Marlene Osteen, widow of Chef Louis Osteen, as "a seductive and skilled Southern storyteller". She's the author of The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All, a food memoir recalling the stories and recipes of beloved family and friends that has sold over 5,000 copies.

Mary is an award-winning cook. (Ok, so the award was in 9th grade for baking Napoleons for State Foreign Language Day, but it was first place and she still has the trophy!) Since the publication of her first book, she's been featured in the Southern Cooking section of CKBK, an international on-line cookbook resource, and Cookbooks with Virginia with her culinary idol, Chef Virginia Willis. She's had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Emily Meggett, New York Times bestselling author of Gullah Geechee Cooking and has been the featured author twice at the Inn at Half Mile Farm in Highlands, North Carolina. Her next book The Cheese Biscuit Queen: I Don't Believe I'd Have Told THAT! is due out in May of 2024. She hopes the stories do not embarrass her mother TOO much.

In her "other life," Mary is a government relations consultant who has enjoyed a 45-year career in lobbying and politics (which also produces some pretty great stories). She divides her time between her hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina, and Columbia, the State Capitol.

Visit Mary Martha Greene on the web at www.thecheesebiscuitqueen.com.


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Rick Gregory

Rick Gregory

Rick Gregory lives in Adams, Tennessee, on a farm bordering the Red River. He has a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Vanderbilt University, and his doctoral dissertation was entitled "Desperate Farmers: The Dark Tobacco Planters Protective Association, 1905-1915."

In 1996 he co-authored the bicentennial history of Robertson County, Tennessee, and in 2020 he co-authored the bicentennial history of Springfield, the county seat of Robertson County. His book, The Bell Witch Legend: In Myth and Memory will be published by the University of Tennessee Press in September. He is currently writing a book about the Dark Fired Planters' Protective Association and the Tobacco Night Riders that came out of it. He is a husband, father, grandfather, hiker and river kayaker.


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Robert Gwaltney

Robert Gwaltney

A graduate of Florida State University, Robert Gwaltney resides in Atlanta, Georgia. By day, he serves as Vice President of Easter Seals North Georgia, Inc., a non-profit organization that strengthens children and their families during the most critical times in their development. Through his non-profit work, he is a champion for early childhood literacy.

Robert is an active member of the Atlanta literary community and previously served as Fiction Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. Currently he serves on the board of the Broadleaf Writers Association. In all the hours between, he writes. His writing has appeared in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Signal Mountain Review, Works in Progress: An Anthology, and Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology. He is also recipient of the Fall 2022 Pat Conroy Writer's Residency. The Cicada Tree, winner of the Somerset Award for Literary Fiction, is his debut novel.

Visit Robert Gwaltney on the web at www.robertlgwaltney.com.


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Ellen Kanervo

Ellen Kanervo

Dr. Ellen Kanervo, Austin Peay State University professor emerita of mass communication, currently serves as executive director of the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Council.

Since her retirement from APSU in 2007, she has edited or co-edited five books dealing with Clarksville's history, including The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams: A Southern Woman's Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863-1890 and The Diary of Serepta Jordan: A Southern Woman's Struggle with War and Family, 1857-1864.


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Laurina Isabella Lyle

Laurina Isabella Lyle

As an author and contributing author of numerous books, articles and presentations, Laurina Isabella Lyle seeks opportunities to communicate about the natural world.

Starting her career as a biologist, she found her greatest impact to protect and preserve the environment has been as an environmental writer. She has extensive experience in this arena. She was the lead writer of a large, permanent exhibit at the Wade Bourne Nature Center in Clarksville, Tennessee. The nature center opened in 2020. Currently, she is the chairperson of the Clarksville Writers Conference.

Visit Laurina Isabella Lyle on the web at www.laurinalyle.com.


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Sharon Mabry

Sharon Mabry

Sharon Mabry, author of The Postmaster's Daughter published by Thorncraft Publishing, is an award-winning mezzo-soprano soloist and recording artist, who premiered works by more than forty composers and made nine critically acclaimed recordings.

From 1985 through 2009, she was a featured writer for the NATS Journal of Singing, the preeminent journal for singers and voice teachers, with her column "New Directions," which discussed trends in contemporary music with more than one hundred and twenty-five articles in that series. Her book reviews and featured articles on women composers have appeared in several major music journals. She is the author of two books about music, Exploring Twentieth-Century Vocal Music (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002, 2009) and The Performing Life: A Singer's Guide to Survival (Scarecrow Press, Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). The Postmaster's Daughter is her first novel.

In addition, Mabry established a long tenure as professor of music at Austin Peay State University, where she received the university's highest award for creativity (the Richard M. Hawkins Award) and for teaching (the Distinguished Professor Award).

Visit Sharon Mabry on the web at www.facebook.com/authorsharonmabry.


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Cynthia Marsh

Cynthia Marsh is a narrative artist. She uses wood type and letterpress printing to begin conversations that take form as books, broadsides, and printed environments.

Marsh founded the Goldsmith Community Press at Austin Peay State University to encourage community members to tell their stories and express their opinions. Since its inception in 1997, the Goldsmith Press has received 16 local, regional, and/or federal grants to support community and student-centered projects.

Visit Cynthia Marsh on the web at cynthiamarsh.myportfolio.com.


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Bren McClain

Bren McClain

Bren McClain's critically acclaimed debut novel, One Good Mama Bone, won the 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction and the 2018 Patricia Winn Award for Southern Literature, given by the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Council. It was also named Pulpwood Queen 2017 Book of the Year, a 2017 Great Group Reads by the Women's National Book Association, a Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) Okra pick, longlisted for SIBA's Southern Book Prize and a finalist for the 2018 Crook's Corner Prize. The French translation (retitled Mama Red) was selected for the 2021 Prix Maya, an award given for the novel that best honors animals. Bren also is a contributing essayist in Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

You can find Bren now with butt in chair, working on her next novel, which has already received acclaim, the gold medal for the William Faulkner Novel-in-Progress. Bren makes her home in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Visit Bren McClain on the web at www.brenmcclain.com.


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Alan Stuart Mearns

Alan Stuart Mearns

Alan Stuart Mearns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A poet, songwriter and classical guitarist, he fluidly shifts between the three forms to find lyrical expression of his thoughts and emotions. His musical studies began with the classical violin at age five, switching to the guitar at age ten. Moving to the United States in his late teens, he studied classical guitar performance.

To his credit, Alan has recorded three CDs of original songs and music — Yes the Raven: U2 Covered in Love, Yes the Raven: Covered in Dust and Yes the Raven: Abilene — and, most recently, a critically acclaimed recording titled Sei Solo: Works by J.S. Bach.

Visit Alan Stuart Mearns on the web at www.alanmearns.com.


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Shana Thornton

Shana Thornton

Shana Thornton emphasizes the written word in life — once she decided that writing would be her focus, Shana wanted to tell stories, help other authors to see their words in print, and share the stories of her community. Her company, Thorncraft Publishing, won the 2020 CECA Ovation Award in Business. In 2012, Shana opened Thorncraft Publishing, an independent publisher of literature, novels, and creative nonfiction by individual authors, as well as the BreatheYourOMBalance® yoga book series.

Shana is also the author of four novels — Ripe for the Pickin' (2022), The Adventures to Pawnassus (2019), Poke Sallet Queen and the Family Medicine Wheel (2015) and Multiple Exposure (2012) — and co-author of the nonfiction book Seasons of Balance: On Creativity and Mindfulness (2016).

Collaborative work has been the most fulfilling work of Shana's career so far. She began as Editor-in-Chief of Her Circle Ezine, an international online collaborative magazine focusing on women activists, authors and artists. Later, while publishing the work of fiction authors and working on her own novels, she wrote a variety of material with groups in the Clarksville community. She is the founder of the Clarksville Montgomery County African American Legacy Trail (2019), a free community publication in print and online. Shana is the Vice-President of the Friends of Dunbar Cave, Inc., and a member of Mt. Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society. She has written a historical stage play about Clarksville and Montgomery County leadership with special emphasis on those citizens who were marginalized, and worked with the community for three free performances that were open to the public (2018). She has also written collaborative work for museum and art exhibitions.

Visit www.thorncraftpublishing.com and www.shanathornton.com for more information.


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Amy Wright

Amy Wright

Amy Wright served as the 2022 Wayne G. Basler Chair of Excellence at East Tennessee State University and was awarded two Peter Taylor Fellowships to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, an Individual Artist Grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She co-edited and introduced the Virginia volume of The Southern Poetry Anthology and has authored three poetry books and six chapbooks. Her nonfiction debut, Paper Concert: A Conversation in the Round (Sarabande Books), won the 2022 Nautilus Gold Award for Lyric Prose.

Amy grew up on a family farm in southwest Virginia to earn an B.A. from the University of Virginia, M.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Ph.D. from the University of Denver. She is a Professor of English at Austin Peay State University who strives through her teaching and writing to promote environmental sustainability and healing through meaning-making.

Visit Amy Wright on the web at www.awrightawright.com.


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Susan Beckham Zurenda

Susan Beckham Zurenda

After teaching literature, composition, and creative writing to thousands of high school and college students for 33 years, Susan Beckham Zurenda turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which was a short story that won the South Carolina Fiction Prize a number of years ago. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected as the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book (Fiction) in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021.

Susan has won numerous regional awards for short fiction as the South Carolina Fiction Prize (twice), the Porter Fleming Competition, The Southern Writers Symposium Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, The Hub City Hardegree Contest in Fiction, Alabama Conclave First Novel Chapter Contest, The Jubilee Writing Competition, and has been published in numerous literary journals. Her second novel, The Girl From the Red Rose Motel, will be published September 5, 2023, by Mercer University Press.

Susan received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English. She lives in South Carolina with her husband Wayne and two Boston Terriers.

Visit Susan Beckham Zurenda on the web at www.susanzurenda.com.


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