Editing, publishing presentations added to annual James Agee Conference on Sept. 13

Leigh Ann Henion
New York Times bestselling author Leigh Ann Henion will give the keynote address at this year’s James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts at Pellissippi State.

An annual literature and arts conference at Pellissippi State Community College now includes editing and publishing presentations, in response to interest from local writers.

The fourth annual James Agee Conference for Literature and Arts will be held noon-7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The event is free and open to the public. There is no pre-registration. Check-in will be held 11-11:50 a.m. on site the day of the conference.

“We try to shift around and add something new each year in response to our participants,” explained conference founder Charles Dodd White, an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State. “This is the first time we’ve offered these editing and publishing presentations.”

Thomas Alas Holmes of East Tennessee State University will lead the editing discussion 12-12:30 p.m., while Beto and Bob Cumming of Iris Press will lead the publishing discussion 12:30-1 p.m.

The rest of the afternoon will feature master classes in Nature Writing with Kim Trevathan, an associate professor of writing/communications at Maryville College who is writing his latest book about canoeing the Tennessee River from Paducah, Kentucky, to Knoxville last year; Songwriting with Tiffany Williams, an Eastern Kentucky native who released her debut EP, “When You Go,” earlier this year; and Fiction Writing with Caleb Johnson, author of the novel “Treeborne,” an honorable mention for the 2019 Southern Book Prize.

Leigh Anne Henion, author of “Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World,” will take the stage at 6 p.m. for the conference’s keynote presentation. Henion, who has had stories noted in three editions of “The Best American Travel Writing,” penned her memoir after becoming a mother and questioning whether “experiencing earth’s most dazzling natural phenomena” could reawaken a sense of wonder in herself similar to the one she witnessed daily in her child, who would marvel over simple things in nature.

The conference will wrap up with a signing with all the authors, and Union Avenue Books will be on site with books available for purchase.

White, whose novel “In the House of Wilderness” was named the 2018 Appalachian Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association in June, created the James Agee Conference four years ago largely to give Pellissippi State students an opportunity to attend a scholarly conference while also celebrating the literature, culture and arts of Appalachia.

“Agee is such a particular touchstone for this area,” said White, who was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame for fiction in October. “The conference gives us an opportunity to honor his influence while also exploring the hometown portrayal of Appalachia through writing and art.”

For the entire schedule of this year’s James Agee Conference, visit www.pstcc.edu/events/ageeconference. To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.