Dead writers meet in Tennessee to raise money for Grist Literary Journal

Grist Journal is the literary magazine of the University of Tennessee, and on Thursday the magazine held a fundraiser in Union Avenue Books. The theme was dead writers, and many of us dressed up and performed the poems and fiction of the deceased greats.

Local businesses donated many prizes for the raffle: I ended up with two bags of Intelligentsia coffee and a gift card to a local pub. The readers were great, too (pictures by the very talented Elias Johnson).

We dead writers were judged on our performance, audience response, and costume. Who would win?

Flannery O'Connor:

Gertrude Stein:
Oscar Wilde:
Not sure which writer this was a homage to:


I read first, as Tennyson, reciting the opening stanza of Tithonus, which remain to me some of the most beautiful lines in the language. This is my “epic poetry” face.

(picture by Kali Meister)

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,

The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,

Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,

And after many a summer dies the swan.

Me only cruel immortality

Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms,

Here at the quiet limit of the world,

A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream

The ever-silent spaces of the East,

Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.

And while the judges added up the scores, I came back to do a quick rendition of “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day.” (picture by Elias Johnson again)

It may have been the green jacket. It may have been the English accent. It may have been the soaring oration of “A white haired shadow, ROAMING like a dreammmmm.” But the judges were swayed, and I was awarded first prize. However, I'm still not completely clear what I won:


These writers are returning to Union Ave books on the evening of November ninth, dressed as themselves, reading short pieces with the theme of “Marooned in the City.” If you live nearby, please come!


4 thoughts on “Dead writers meet in Tennessee to raise money for Grist Literary Journal

  1. It seems that U are getting some enjoyment from being in Tenn and the Phd program. Wonderful that U are not secluded in an ivory tower but that you mingle with the masses. Your first prize seems a bit mysterious. Did U figure out what it is and what to do with it? Also, what is the subject of your novel? Best wishes, Peregrine


  2. Where are the other responses? Mr. Wallace, you look much younger with the facial hair removed. I am sure your rendition of the poems was superb, however, perhaps your rosy cheeks slanted the judges in your favor. Are U sunburned or are the pink cheeks just wonderful health and high spirits and joy?


  3. Hi Peregrine 🙂 I still haven’t figured out what the prize does, but I’m glad to have a little more furniture/art work in my currently rather bare ivory tower…


    • Mr. Wallace: Does your university have an undergrad studio art degree program? If so, go over there and look at student work. You could buy some pieces at a very reasonable price I am sure. When I was pursuing a fine arts degree in studio art, the music majors were on the floor above us and would come down, wander through and steal our work if we were away from our easels for any time. There was constant war between the studio artists and music majors. Thieves. We froze because they needed the heat for their instruments and we roasted in the hot months because their precious instruments needed airconditioning. An art major would be overwhelmed with joy if U bought something. Student art is very interesting, different. Uninhibited. Peregrine


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