John Adams Speaks to the Knoxville Writer’s Guild

John Adams at the Laurel Theater

 The Knoxville Writer’s Guild meets the first Thursday of each month at the Laurel Theater. Each meeting features refreshments and a speaker – usually a writer. This month’s guest was a local writer who is well-known and sometimes appreciated, though often reviled. John Adams has been a sports columnist with the Knoxville News Sentinel for the last twenty-five years. I remember when he first joined the Sentinel staff and I find it hard to believe he has aged twenty-five years since that day. I’m sure I haven’t.

A very entertaining speaker, he told stories of writing for his hometown paper from age fifteen, of being a sports columnist in a range of cities including Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he covered the LSU Tigers. Among his most humorous stories was an accounting of the hostility he endured from the LSU football coaching staff after he wrote complimentary articles about their opponent’s quarterback. Ultimately, they were out for his head and he left town never revealing his source inside the program.

When asked about the outrage that he sometimes inspires by his columns, which are often biting, acerbic and sarcastic, but always honest, he indicated it doesn’t bother him. He understood early in life that he wanted to be a sports writer and he knew that his only obligation was to tell the truth and he has tried to do that for his entire career.

It was challenging to me in a personal way. I love downtown Knoxville which is, of course, my topic of choice. I really like many of the people who live downtown and who own businesses here. I’ve been called a booster of downtown and I don’t mind that people think I have the city’s best interest at heart. I do. Still, I need to have the courage to say something is bad when it is bad, that something needs to change when it does and that something is wrong when I feel it is. It’s a good challenge for all of us.

I’d encourage all writers or supporters of the written word to consider joining us October 6 when the focus will be the new anthology produced by the guild. Writers will read their works which were chosen for inclusion in the book.

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