Chattanooga, Part One: Conference on Southern Literature

Picture Courtesy of Destination 360

“Wait a minute,” you may be saying. “I thought this was a blog about Knoxville! I want my money back!” Well, that’s an understandable reaction for some of my more recent readers. For the veterans, however, you’ll remember I’ve blogged about St. Louis sights, Chuck Berry in St. Louis, and the Stars in St. Louis. I’ve also blogged about South Louisiana and New Orleans. Why would I do such a thing on a blog expressly about Knoxville? Because when I travel I take Knoxville with me. When I return home I bring a piece of my travels back into the city. Travel brings perspective and I often feel it changes how I see my home and community.

Read HouseImage by (aka Brent) via Flickr
Urban Woman and I attended the Conference on Southern Literature which is a biennial event presented in Chattanooga by the Arts and Education Council. It features southern writers from every genre (except songwriting oddly enough) discussing current issues in literature. Smart people talking about smart topics. Who gets enough of that during the average work week? We stayed at the wonderful Read House which has been on that spot downtown for around 150 years, and the current building is about 85 years old. 
Outside the Tivoli Theater, Chattanooga

An interior view of one side of the theater
The main events were held in the Tivoli Theater which is a bit of a cross between our Bijou and Tennessee Theaters. Like our theaters, it is impossible to photograph, so I’ve taken some pieces to give you the idea. Events were also held in the Chattanooga Convention Center which is nice enough and in the Warehouse district. The authors partied on my floor in the Presidential Suite, but that’s another story.
A view of the Lobby at the Tivoli Theater, Chattanooga
During the three days I stood in line at Starbucks with Elizabeth Cox and Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina), shared an elevator with Wendell Berry (A Place on Earth) and his lovely wife and ran into him and Clyde Edgerton (Rainey, Walking Across Egypt, The Bible Salesman) talking in the hallway. It’s that kind of event and it is absolutely lovely.
Of course, I was spying for my hometown and comparing the two in my head and, probably too often for Urban Woman’s taste, out loud. Next I’ll share some comparisons between the two central city districts. I will say that my thinking on the topic has shifted considerably as a result of the visit.
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