Conversations with Kentucky Writers II

Conversations with Kentucky Writers II

L. Elisabeth Beattie Editor
Photographs by Susan Lippman
With a Foreword by Dianne Aprile
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Conversations with Kentucky Writers II
    Book Description:

    In this sequel toConversations with Kentucky Writers, L. Elisabeth Beattie brings together in-depth interviews with sixteen of the state's premiere wordsmiths.

    This new volume offers the perspectives of poets, journalists, and scholars as they discuss their views on creativity, the teaching of writing, and the importance of Kentucky in their work. They talk frankly about how and why they do what they do. The writers speak for themselves, and their thoughts come alive on the page. Beattie's interviews reveal the allegiances and alliances among Kentucky writers that have shaped literary trends by bringing together people with shared interests, values, subjects, and styles.

    The interviewees include authors who are captivated in other writers and in what they have to say about the process and craft of writing; educators who are interested in Kentucky writers and what their work reveals about the nature of creativity; and historians who are concerned with Kentucky's literary and cultural heritage. The interviews reveal patterns in Kentucky literature from mid-century to the millennium, as authors talk about how their sense of place has changed over the decades and reveal the ways in which the roots of Kentucky writing have produced a literary flowering at the century's end.

    Includes: Sallie Bingham, Joy Bale Boone, Thomas D. Clark, John Egerton, Sarah Gorham, Lynwood Montell, Maureen Morehead, John Ed Pearce, Ameilia Blossom Pegram, Karen Robards, Jeffrey Skinner, Frederick Smock, Frank Steele, Martha Bennett Stiles, Richard Taylor, and Michael Williams.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5908-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dianne Aprile

    In her preface to this volume, L. Elisabeth Beattie speaks of the “raw reality” of spoken conversation. The verbal exchange, she notes, is rarely as grammatical as the written message, but neither is it as guarded. Clearly, that is a trade worth making, particularly when the purpose of a verbal exchange is to uncover the essential character of one of the two parties so engaged.

    The unmasking of the author is, of course, the heart of the matter in each of Beattie’s unpredictably eloquent and dependably revealing conversations with Kentucky writers. This latest batch of her tape-recorded tete-a-tetes will enlighten...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-1)
  5. Sallie Bingham
    (pp. 3-19)
    Sallie Bingham

    BINGHAM: My name is Sallie Bingham, and I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 22, 1937. My father’s name was Barry Bingham and my mother’s name is Mary Caperton Bingham. My father was a journalist by profession, and my mother was a housewife. Mother was also very active in education.

    BEATTIE: Would you tell me about what you recall about significant family members?

    BINGHAM: My maternal grandmother was a great figure in my childhood. Her name was Helena Lefroy Caperton. She was a writer, and she had published two books of short stories. She was also a wonderful storyteller....

  6. Joy Bale Boone
    (pp. 21-37)
    Joy Bale Boone

    BOONE: I was born Sylvia Joy Field and then, when I married Garnett Bale, I became Joy Field Bale. When I married George Boone, I became Joy Bale Boone. It’s difficult for a woman, you know.

    BEATTIE: Where and when were you born?

    BOONE: October 29, 1912. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, right there by the lake.

    BEATTIE: How long did you live there?

    BOONE: Well, till I was about five, and then my parents moved to Evanston, which is still Chicago, really—just a suburb. I was there until I was twenty-one, when I married Garnett. Garnett and...

  7. Thomas D. Clark
    (pp. 39-59)
    Thomas D. Clark

    CLARK: My name is Thomas D. Clark. I was born on July the 14th, 1903, in Louisville, Mississippi, same as Louisville, Kentucky. My father’s name was John Clark. And my mother’s name was Sallie Bennett Clark. My father was born in 1876 and my mother in 1881, both of them just after the Civil War. They had vivid memories of what people had told them and what had gone on in the South. I remember people talking about the battles. We had relatives who were in the Civil War. They remembered the freeing of the slaves—that is, stories of...

  8. John Egerton
    (pp. 61-77)
    John Egerton

    EGERTON: I am John Walden Egerton, and I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on June the 14th, 1935. My father’s name was Graham Egerton. He was a traveling salesman, sort of a Willy Loman character, Tennessee born, lived most of his life in the South. My mother’s name was Rebecca White Egerton. She was from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her father was a miller in Cadiz. She went to college at Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia, right on the Tennessee border. I was the fifth and final child to come along. By the time I was born, in 1935, the family was...

  9. Sarah Gorham
    (pp. 79-97)
    Sarah Gorham

    GORHAM: My legal name is Sarah Gorham Skinner. My professional name is Sarah Gorham. I was born March 30, 1954, in Santa Monica, California.

    My mother’s full name was Kathryn Aring Gorham before she got divorced, and then she remarried and her new husband’s name was Morton. She was called Peg. My father’s name is William Gorham.

    My mother had a degree in literature from Stanford University and Wellesley College; she studied with Yvor Winters. She worked as the director of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Association for Retarded Citizens. My father has had a variety of government positions, but he’s...

  10. Lynwood Montell
    (pp. 99-115)
    Lynwood Montell

    MONTELL: My name is William Lynwood Montell, and I was born on February 18, 1931, in Monroe County, Kentucky, in the Rockbridge Community. My mother was Nellie Hazel Chapman Montell, and she was born on the same homeplace that I was. My father was William Guy Montell. He was born all of three miles away. My dad’s people were storytellers. My mom’s dad was a storyteller, too. He would get my brother and me aside, usually one at a time, and he would just love to tell us stories.

    BEATTIE: Do you attribute that background and those stories to your...

  11. Maureen Morehead
    (pp. 117-129)
    Maureen Morehead

    MOREHEAD: My name is Maureen Podshadley Morehead, and I was born on March 28, 1951, in St. Louis, Missouri. My father is Dr. Arlon Podshadley. He is a professor at the University of Louisville. He teaches in the Dental School. My mother is Callista Mahoney Podshadley, and she also is from Illinois, and she has been a homemaker all of her life.

    My mother’s parents I never knew. Her father died when I was about one or two years old. I know things about him that I use in my poetry. For example, he fought in World War I and...

  12. John Ed Pearce
    (pp. 131-153)
    John Ed Pearce

    PEARCE: My name is John Edward Pearce. It was John Edward Pearce, Jr., but when my father died I dropped the Jr. I never liked to be Jr. I was born in Norton, Virginia, in 1919, September the 25th. My father published and edited smalltown newspapers. My mother’s name was Susan Leslie. She was from Tazewell, Virginia, and her father published the newspaper there in Tazewell. After he died, her brothers took it over. She had another brother who was editor of the NorfolkLedger-Dispatchfor a while; newspaper work sort of ran in the family. My father’s paper was...

  13. Amelia Blossom Pegram
    (pp. 155-169)
    Amelia Blossom Pegram

    PEGRAM: Amelia Blossom Pegram, that’s my maiden name, the name I use for writing, but some people also know me as Amelia Blossom House. I have my early works published under House, but anything new that’s been published is under Pegram.

    BEATTIE: Where and when were you born?

    PEGRAM: Oh, when, I don’t know. It seems like a whole century ago, a very long time ago. I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and I’m hemming and hawing now because of my age. I was born in the spring time, and that’s why my name is Blossom. Spring time...

  14. Karen Robards
    (pp. 171-189)
    Karen Robards

    ROBARDS: My name is Karen Ann Johnson Robards. I was born on August 24, 1954, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. My mother is Sally Ann Skaggs Johnson, and my father is Walter Lee Johnson. My father is an orthodontist. He went to University of Louisville Dental School and to Eastman Dental Center in Rochester, New York. He’s been in practice here [Louisville] for twenty-five years.

    My mother comes from Green County. The Skaggs were the original longhunters who came over with Daniel Boone, and a lot of her family is still here. It’s a very interesting family. My mother is my father’s...

  15. Jeffrey Skinner
    (pp. 191-209)
    Jeffrey Skinner

    SKINNER: I am Jeffrey Thomas Skinner, and I was born December 8th, 1949, in Buffalo, New York. My father’s full name is Thomas Franklin Skinner. He was an FBI agent in the fifties and, after that, he worked for a time as an investigator for the Nassau County, New York, Board of Supervisors, and then he owned a business in Connecticut, a private investigative business and security guard agency. My mother’s full name is Doris Ann Skinner, and she has at various times worked in my father’s office with him and then been a homemaker.

    William Donhauser, my maternal grandfather,...

  16. Frederick Smock
    (pp. 211-225)
    Frederick Smock

    SMOCK: My name is Frederick Smock and I was born in Louisville in 1954. My mother’s maiden name was Betty Bourne. Her father was a drugstore owner here in town, and she went to U of L [University of Louisville] and was an art major and was an artist all of her life. She got a master’s in social work and did some work for a time with children, and had other jobs off and on, but primarily she was a housewife, although she’s always painted. My father was also named Fred; I’m the third. He was a radiologist. He...

  17. Frank Steele
    (pp. 227-243)
    Frank Steele

    STEELE: I am Frank Pettus Steele, Jr., and I was born in 1935 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

    My father’s name was Frank Steele, Sr. He was a hardware salesman in Tuscaloosa. And my mother was Zeila Stovall, originally, and she was a piano teacher in Tuscaloosa. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. My grandfather on my mother’s side was James B. Stovall, who was a Presbyterian minister and superintendent of schools in Bibb County, Alabama. He died in 1917 in an accident, and my grandmother had the job of raising her five children, four daughters and a son, alone on...

  18. Martha Bennett Stiles
    (pp. 245-261)
    Martha Bennett Stiles

    STILES: Martha Bennett Wells Stiles is my name, and I was born March 30, 1933, in Santiago, San Juan, which is in the Philippine Islands. My mother was Jane McClintock Bennett Wells, and my father was Forrest Hampton Wells. He was a naval officer until he retired, when he got interested in teaching people who couldn’t read to read. My mother was a Charlestonian [South Carolina], and my great-grandmother was also from that part of the country.

    I’m the second child. I have three sisters and one brother. One sister is older, two are younger, and my brother is younger....

  19. Richard Taylor
    (pp. 263-277)
    Richard Taylor

    TAYLOR: My name is Richard Lawrence Taylor. I was born in Washington, D.C., September 17th, 1941. My father, Joe Howard Taylor, who is deceased, was born in 1905 and died in 1974. He was a native of Kentucky. He was a practicing lawyer until his death. My mother is still living. Her name is Dorothy Dey Taylor. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. She is now eighty years old.

    I have a brother, who is two years younger than I, Douglas Taylor, who practices law in Louisville. I have a sister, who is two years older, Treva Duffy Taylor, who teaches...

  20. Michael Williams
    (pp. 279-293)
    Michael Williams

    BEATTIE: What is your full name?

    WILLIAMS: Michael Leon Williams. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 17th of 1952. Carl Leon Williams is my father, and he was a high school physics and math teacher, and then he became a principal at Fort Knox Independent Schools and ended his career, retired, as assistant superintendent there. My mother is Mildred Booher Williams, and she was a teacher in Fort Knox Independent Schools. She taught everything from elementary school to high school English, and she ended up as a reading consultant.

    BEATTIE: Did her teaching of English have anything to...

  21. INDEX
    (pp. 294-310)