A Red Canoe & An Absence

David Bottoms (b. 1949) had his Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump (1980) selected by Robert Penn Warren for the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award for best first book by an American poet. Bottoms has gone on to publish six more poetry collections, most recently We Almost Disappear (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), and two novels, Any Cold Jordan (1987) and Easter Weekend (1990). His work has appeared widely in journals and magazines such as the Paris Review, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Kenyon Review, and the New Republic, and his many honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. From 2000 to 2012 he served as Georgia’s poet laureate. At Georgia State University, where Bottoms has taught for some thirty years, he is John B. and Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Distinguished Chair in English Letters. (Inducted in 2009)

“I Know What the Earth Says”: From an Interview with Alice Walker

William R. Ferris is the author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (University of North Carolina Press, 2009). His next book, The Storied South: Conversations with Writers and Artists, will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in the fall of 2013. At the University of North Carolina Ferris is a professor in the history department, adjunct professor in the Curriculum in Folklore, and senior associate director of the Center for Study of the American South.

Uncle Remus, No Friend of Mine

Alice Walker (b. 1944) has produced a large body of work that includes poetry, essays, and fiction, perhaps most notably her classic novel The Color Purple (1982), which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and the influential critical text In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983). Her most recent books include Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine / Israel (2010); Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems (2010); and The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, The Gladyses, & Babe: A Memoir (The New Press, 2011). Born in Eatonton, Walker became active in the civil rights and feminist movements as a young woman, and these passions informed her artistic path throughout her career, as she has continued her activism for social and environmental justice. She is also known for championing the work of other writers: her anthology I Love Myself When I Am Laughing . . . and Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive: A Zora Neale Hurston Reader (1979) helped bring Hurston’s books back into print and prompted a revaluation of her career. Walker currently lives in Mendocino, California. (Inducted in 2001)

The Earth Is the Lord’s but He’s Giving It to the Meek (symposium talk)

James Kilgo (1941–2002) was born in Darlington, South Carolina. He graduated from Wofford College, then went on to receive his MA and PhD in American Literature from Tulane University. In 1967 he joined the faculty of the English department at the University of Georgia, where he remained until his retirement in 1999. Though he didn’t begin his creative writing career until he was well into his 30s, by the time he died in 2002 Kilgo had become an author both critically acclaimed and widely-read. His books include the essay collections Deep Enough for Ivorybills (1988) and Inheritance of Horses (1994); the Townsend Prize–winning novel Daughter of My People (1998); and the posthumously released autobiographical travel narrative Colors of Africa (2003). He also wrote The Blue Wall: Wilderness of the Carolinas and Georgia (1996) in collaboration with photographer Thomas Wyche, and in 1999 published the memoir The Hand-Carved Creche and Other Christmas Stories. (Inducted in 2011)

Ty Cobb and the Book That Wasn’t

Terry Kay (b. 1938) of Hart County, Georgia, is the author of twelve novels, including the celebrated coming-of-age tale The Year the Lights Came On (1976), which drew on his memories of the small town of Royston in the 1940s. Kay enjoyed a long career in journalism and public relations, interviewing some of the world’s most famous entertainers in his work as a film and theater critic; his novels The Year the Lights Came On and Shadow Song (1994) grew out of magazine pieces he’ d written. His 1990 novel To Dance with the White Dog, inspired by his parents’ long marriage, was internationally successful and was adapted for television for the Hallmark Hall of Fame series—as were The Year the Lights Came On and After Eli (1981). Kay has also published a children’s book, To Whom the Angel Spoke: A Story of the Christmas (1991), and a collection of columns and essays, Special Kay: The Wisdom of Terry Kay (2000). One of Georgia’s best-known living writers, Kay has received numerous honors, including the Georgia Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Stanley W. Lindberg Award for outstanding contribution to the literary heritage of Georgia. He resides in Athens with Tommie, his wife of fifty-three years. (Inducted in 2006)

Catkins; A Perfect New Moon; & Piecemeal

Coleman Barks, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, has since 1977 collaborated with various scholars of the Persian language (most notably, John Moyne) to bring over into American free verse the poetry of the thirteenth-century mystic Jelaluddin Rumi. This work has resulted in twenty-one volumes, including the bestselling Essential Rumi in 1995. He has also published eight volumes of his own poetry, including Hummingbird Sleep: Poems 2009–2011 (2012) and Winter Sky: Poems 1968–2008 (2008), both from the University of Georgia Press. 

Imagine with Me Now the Final Room

John Stone (1936–2008) was a four-time Georgia Writer of the Year, a 1992 recipient of the Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities, and an honored emeritus professor of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine. Beginning in 1969, he attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Vermont, where he served as resident physician for three summers. His first book of poetry, The Smell of Matches (1972), was followed by In All This Rain (1980), Renaming the Streets (1985), Where Water Begins (1998), and Music from Apartment 8 (2004). Stone was also an acclaimed essayist—his collection In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine (1990) earned Stone his fourth Georgia Writer of the Year Award, and his first for nonfiction. He died in Atlanta in 2008. (Inducted in 2007)

You’ll Like My Mother’s Grave

Harry Crews (1935–2012), born in Bacon County, was the author of nearly twenty novels, from The Gospel Singer (1968) to An American Family: The Baby with the Curious Markings (2006). His published nonfiction includes the first volume of his autobiography, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (1978), and three essay collections. His papers are collected in the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia; he was the subject of a special feature, including previously unpublished work and letters culled from that collection, in our Winter 2007 issue. Crews lived for decades in Gainesville, Florida, where he taught at the University of Florida. (Inducted in 2002)

Theophilia

Raymond Andrews (1934–1991) was born in, and grew up near, the town of Madison. After serving four years in the United States Air Force and then attending Michigan State University, he lived in New York City from 1958 to 1984. Andrews won the James Baldwin Prize for his debut novel, Appalachee Red (1978)—the first volume of his Muskhogean County trilogy that also includes Rosiebelle Lee Wildcat Tennessee (1980) and Baby Sweet’s (1983). His other books include a memoir, The Last Radio Baby (1990), and a two-novella volume, Jessie and Jesus and Cousin Claire (1991). Andrews returned to Georgia from New York in 1984, living just outside of Athens until he took his own life in 1991. The Fall 2010 issue of The Georgia Review includes a major feature on his work. (Inducted in 2009)