Section: Arts

Getting creative: Jones to read from latest novel

Getting creative: Jones to read from latest novel

by India Amos

Tayari Jones, author of notable novels such as Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling and Silver Sparrow, will be visiting Kenyon this week. She will speak tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater.

“She is a dynamic. I think students will really get a lot out of hearing her talk about her writing — writing in general, [and] how to be a writer,” said Katherine Weber, visiting professor of creative writing who arranged Jones’ visit.

Last year, Weber brought prominent members of the literary community to campus, such as John Donatich, who is both the director of Yale Press and the author of a novel and a memoir. Author Betsy Lerner was Donatich’s wife and a reputable literary agent. Weber, who is a novelist by trade, wanted to expose the Kenyon community to a wider array of fiction writers during this spring semester, and after much consideration, she arranged for Jones to visit Kenyon.

Jones’ dedication to her work is evident because, as is the case with her first two novels, she chooses to write about a certain event she witnessed (such as the Atlanta Child Murders that are described in Leaving Atlanta) or life in Georgia in general, so her pieces truly come to life both through her writing and her talks about her work.

“She doesn’t presume to be an authority,” Weber said. “She speaks from personal experience, but she has enormously impressive credentials.”

In addition to publishing her novels, Jones is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She is a graduate of Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University. In addition, she works as an Associate Professor in the Masters of Fine Arts Program at Rutgers-Newark University. It was at this university where she received three awards: the Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. Jones is not only supported by her scholastic community, but continues to receive praise on a national level. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States Arts Foundation and the Arts Councils of Arizona and Illinois.

This event will be sponsored by the English Department and the Department of Multicultural Affairs, along with assistance from organizations such as the Crozier Center for Women, the Hubbard Fund, the Gund Gallery and the African diaspora studies program.

“It’s really a wonderful synergy of support,” Weber said. “It’s been almost a year that I’ve been planning to bring her to campus, and now it’s happening.”

She noted that her allies in finding sponsorship have been Administrative Assistant Liza Chabot in the English Department and Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs Monique Jernigan.

Jones will read an excerpt from her most recently published novel, Silver Sparrow, and will talk about the novel she is currently writing in greater detail. Her books will be available in the Bookstore prior to the event. In addition, books will be for sale in the Gallery before and after the reading. Also following her talk will be an opportunity for Jones to sign books, as well as a light reception.

Weber encourages all students to attend the reading.

“I hope people turn out to hear her who aren’t necessarily themselves writers,” Weber said. “Anyone interested in great contemporary fiction [should come].”

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