Stadler Center Writers Series

Tennessee Jones & Justin Boening
Tuesday, October 8

Prose & Poetry Reading & Q&A Session
12 noon, Walls Lounge, Langone Center 213


Tennessee Jones, Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing for 2013–14, is the author of the Lambda Literary Award nominated collection Deliver Me From Nowhere, a "cover" of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. He is the recipient of awards from the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and Hunter College, where he received his MFA in Fiction in 2010. He was also the George Bennett Fellow (Writer in Residence) at Philips Exeter Academy 2010-11. His short fiction and essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies. His current novel in progress is about generational trauma in an Appalachian town notorious for two brutal incidents: the hanging of an elephant and the expulsion of its entire black population. He grew up in the hollers of East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Justin Boening is the 2013–14 Stadler Fellow. Born in the Adirondacks, Boening is the author of Self-Portrait as Missing Person, which was selected by Dara Wier for the Poetry Society of America's National Chapbook Fellowship. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, such as The Atlas Review, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Hotel Amerika, The Journal, and St. Petersburg Review, among others. He's been a finalist for the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Fellowship and a runner-up for the "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. He's also been the recipient of fellowships and awards from Summer Literary Seminars, Vermont Studio Center, and Columbia University's School of the Arts. Currently, Boening works as an associate editor for Poetry Northwest. In the summer, he teaches literature and creative writing at Columbia University's Summer High School Program.





Tennessee Jones

from The Making of a Lazarus

We were not fragile. Jo-Jo, Baby, me and Dean. I was made, on the inside, of God's pure iron. Dean was black Mustang steam. Baby a fire in the desert going to be a dental hygienist. Jo-Jo was a shadow in the pine trees, most of his power in that he had gone. Fragility had no place here, fragility was for those who had perhaps never known the danger of being broken. If you fell apart here, you would stay broken. Though we were misshapen by the dents in our parents' shoulders that had been dented into theirs, there was a hardness running up through us that kept our backs straight, that hardness that when we looked you in the eyes, you looked away. Snake level, we had been died and had killed, and we did not fear dying again. Our pride was a bitter chaff, but it grew wild and it made bread, and what no one else wanted, was ours.




Justin Boening

To Be A God


Starting now, I'll do everything
as if I were a god.
I'll walk from a dark room
as a god walks from a dark room,

I'll speak to strangers
as a god speaks to strangers.
When it's time to say something important,

I'll rise from my chair like a god would
and speak in my
celestial certitudes.

There will be no more
lap-sitting, no more stories
about when I was a barback or a ferryman

or a farrier. There will be
fewer hours spent
tuning my piano
and patting my hunting dogs,

or remembering
my youth. When I need you to hurt

I'll put you to sleep as a god puts you to sleep,

I'll play my discordant harp as a god plays a harp,
and the effects will be the same.

The noise of the bramble
never leaves me.
I bless the cedar. The months go by. I bless your saw.

When you need
me to hurt, I'll dim in the linden leaves,
I'll hide in the fire-scarred hills,
and the great guards

of my gilded name
will circle around to protect me.
And you'll be there.
And I'll know your name

as a god knows your name,
as a father knows your name,
but you won't recognize me.




Boston Review, May 2013











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