The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word is among the oldest literary festivals in the country, annually welcoming hundreds of authors and tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Nashville each October. The Festival, celebrating the written word since 1989, is free, and includes performance stages, food trucks, and more than 60 publishers and booksellers.
Festival weekend (October 21 and 22) takes place in downtown Nashville. The Festival grounds include Bicentennial Mall State Park, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. In 2023, new community events are being held with local partners at locations around the Nashville area to introduce the festival to new audiences and welcome long-time fans. These events will be held Sunday, October 15 through Thursday, October 19.
An Evening with Terrance Hayes at TSU is free with no registration required, at 7:00 p.m., on Wednesday, October 18 in the Forum Auditorium of Otis Floyd Campus Center at Tennessee State University. Terrance Hayes is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry. He is the author of American Sonnets For My Past and Future Assassin, and also To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight. His new works for fall 2023 are a collection of poems, So To Speak, and collection of essays, Watch Your Language.
Proceeding from Toni Morrison’s aim to expand the landscape of literary imagination in Playing in the Dark (“I want to draw a map, so to speak, of a critical geography”), Watch Your Language charts a lyrical geography of reading and influence in poetry. Canonized, overlooked, and forgotten African American poets star in Hayes’s brilliant contemplations of personal, canonical, and allegorical literary development. Illustrated micro-essays, graphic book reviews, biographical prose poems, and nonfiction sketches make reading an imaginative and critical act of watching your language. Hayes, a Silver Professor of English at New York University, will sign books following the event.
Roughly 150 authors are slated to attend the Festival, including Night Train to Nashville author Paula Blackman, The Demands of Justice: Enslaved Women, Capital Crime, and Clemency in Early Virginia author Tamika Y. Nunley, Deep Dish Conversations: Voices of Social Change in Nashville author Jerome Moore, The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and The Path to a Shared American Future author Robert P. Jones, Like Lava in My Veins author Derrick Barnes, among many others.
Authors In The Round, a special fund-raising event dinner that provides vital funding for the Southern Festival of Books, returns on Friday, October 20 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Then, on Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22, enjoy the full Festival experience – author sessions, book signings, food trucks, performance stages, and exhibitors. To plan your attendance at the free sessions, please visit the festival website: www.sofestofbooks.org To view some past sessions free online on the festival’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_y7DN6aJItnox7lC9WqIrQ