Award-winning Georgia writer Dana Wildsmith will continue this year’s series of authors reading from their works in UT’s Hodges Library.
Wildsmith will read from her poems and essays at the university’s Writers in the Library event, 7 p.m., Monday, November 1, in the library auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
Wildsmith is the author of four books of poems and one book of nonfiction. Her most recent collection of poetry, One Good Hand (2005), was a SIBA Poetry Book of the Year nominee. Her nonfiction work, Back to Abnormal: Surviving With An Old Farm In the New South (2010), references her life on a 150-year-old farm outside Bethlehem, Georgia, and her discomfort with encroaching urban sprawl.
“I think my sensitivity to language came from Daddy being a preacher and a scholar,” Wildsmith said. “He was a very intellectual man. He made me value taking care of what you say — a precision of expression — and learning how to paint pictures (with words) because that’s what preachers do.” She began with the genre of poetry “because it is so close to singing, and singing flows more through my veins than blood does, and also because poems are short — I was busy with a small child and trying to get an education.”
Having lived a nomadic life as the daughter of a Methodist minister and, later, the wife of a Navy man, Wildsmith now relishes the natural surroundings on the farmland purchased by her parents upon her father’s retirement, and even the relative austerity of her chosen lifestyle. In a 2009 essay, she wrote of the converted cotton barn in which she lives and her mother’s newer but equally modest house across the road:
“Neither house has central heat or air. Mac has offered to install a heat pump to cozy up Mama’s house through the winter and cool it off through Georgia Julys and Augusts. Mama always thanks him, and refuses. Central air doesn’t fit the soul of an old house, she tells him. The house itself would not be at ease with such. Most of the year, both houses stand open-windowed and open door to the outside weather. We rely on ceiling fans and old sheltering trees to keep the heat down. Come winter, we have poured-glass windows to let the sun enter as wavy rainbows of warmth. We also almost always have thick layers of dust or pollen over our floors and furniture. You can’t let the intangible outside in without allowing the tangible, too.” (New Southerner, Spring 2009)
Wildsmith has served as artist-in-residence at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and has been a poetry fellow with the South Carolina Academy of Authors. She has taught writing workshops throughout the Southeast, and currently teaches English as a Second Language to adults of many nationalities through the Adult Education Program of Lanier Technical College in Oakwood, Georgia. For more information, visit www.danawildsmith.com/.
Wildsmith’s reading is sponsored by the University of Tennessee Department of English and the UT Libraries. For further information contact Jeff Daniel Marion, UT Libraries Writer in Residence (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Martha Rudolph, UT Libraries Communications (email@example.com).