May 31, 2021
Martin Padgett reads an essay titled “Underneath the Sweet Gum Tree,” originally published by the Oxford American, and adapted from his book, “A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta’s Gay Revolution” (W.W. Norton, 2021).
The story follows Frank Powell, an architect of Atlanta’s queer nightlife from the 1960s until his death in 1996. One of Powell’s many nightclubs, the Sweet Gum Head, offered gay Atlantans a safe space to be themselves long before queer culture became popular culture. Padgett’s story details the progress made in the South and the United States in terms of gay rights and lingers over all that has been lost to the AIDS pandemic and gentrification.
A 2018 graduate of the Low-Residency MFA in Narrative Nonfiction program at the University of Georgia, Padgett is a writer and PhD candidate in History at Georgia State University. His writing has appeared in the Bitter Southerner, Men’s Health, Outside, and many others.
May 3, 2021
We're telling stories about a kind of love that created us, sustained us, maybe drove us crazy. A kind of love that—no matter what—made us who we are.
This special episode of Hear-Tell revisits stories about relationships with our mothers—how they cared for us and how we care for them. Stories come from past guests on the show: 2017 MFA graduate Karen Thomas, a professor of practice in journalism at Southern Methodist University; MFA faculty member John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and host of ESPN's "True South"; and 2019 MFA graduate Dorothy Lennon, a writer and teacher based in Atlanta, Georgia.
REVISED is a semi-regular feature debuting with this episode. REVISED episodes will repackage previously-published stories for special occasions.
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April 6, 2021
For parents, building nests, rather than cages, for baby birds can prove difficult.
In Max Blau's story "How Jim White Helped His Bluebird Spread Her Wings," originally published by the Sunday Long Read, a songwriter and his daughter learn to overcome turmoil to love each other on equal terms.
Blau, a 2018 graduate of the Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Georgia, spent years interviewing the subjects of the story, Jim White and daughter Willow Martin. He squared their accounts of a messy custody battle and inter-personal growing pains with family members, and he fact-checked the details against court documents. The result is a story about how parents, as their children forge their own identities, must understand their role with clear eyes.
Max Blau is an independent journalist based in Atlanta, Georgia. His work has appeared in publications like the Atavist, ProPublica, Atlanta, and Georgia Health News, among many others.
March 9, 2021
Moni Basu reads her story, "In Search of Spirits in Cassadaga," originally published in Flamingo Magazine.
Basu, a member of the Low-Residency MFA in Narrative Nonfiction faculty, travels to the quiet Floridian community of Cassadaga, known as the psychic capital of the world and home, since 1894, to followers of Spiritualism, a faith that believes that we never truly die. Instead, we leave our bodies and become another form of matter and our spirit selves can still interact with the living.
Over the years, a mysterious shroud surrounded Cassadaga. It's known as a mecca for mystics, a haunted corner of a swampy state. Basu headed to Cassadaga to investigate these mysteries and found herself asking personal questions about the afterlife.
In addition to her work as an MFA Mentor, Basu, a veteran journalist with CNN, teaches as the Michael and Linda Connelly Lecturer for Narrative Nonfiction at the University of Florida.
February 9, 2021
Jasmin Pittman Morrell reads an essay originally published by the Bitter Southerner called "Is That Your Mother?" The story follows the author's experience as a Black mother to a child who appears white; it explores the commodification of Black motherhood throughout U.S. history and challenges the recurring assumptions of the white gaze. In response to hurtful encounters, Jasmin celebrates the fullness of her identity and family.
A 2020 graduate of the Low-Residency MFA in Narrative Nonfiction program at the University of Georgia, Jasmin is a writer and editor based in Asheville, North Carolina.
October 12, 2020
Kristin Lowe reads an essay called "The Orchard on a Cloud," about the agricultural community of Quincy, Washington. The Grand Coulee Dam irrigates the apple orchard and potato fields around Quincy. That same water source has attracted data storage centers, run by the likes of Microsoft, creating fundamental shifts in how the people of Quincy define themselves.
Returning to an important geography from her childhood, Kristin reflects on how life has changed for farmers like her uncle, Carl Yeates, and what these changes mean for generations to come.
A 2018 graduate of the Low-Residency MFA in Narrative Nonfiction program at the University of Georgia, Kristin is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia.
September 14, 2020
2019 MFA graduate Jeremy Redmon reads an essay called “December 21 and What Came After,” about his experiences as a reporter embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. The essay was originally published by The WarHorse, a nonprofit new website dedicated to telling stories about military service and the impact of war.
Redmon’s essay explores what drew him to covering armed conflict, what working in a war zone taught him about his Air Force veteran father, and the lasting impact of trauma on his life.
A veteran journalist, Redmon currently reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
August 11, 2020
Current MFA students Alison Miller, Will Alford, Sierra Williams, and Stephanie Paladino read short narrative essays composed during their low-residency coursework over the past year. Their stories introduce us to fascinating characters and take us to communities across the US and Global South. We'll meet independent wrestlers, awkward roommates, stifling small towns, and almost romances.
This episode is the second Hear-Tell episode produced from the safety of the homes of our guests and host. Considering the health of our contributors, the show will continue in this fashion for the near future.
To learn more about Hear-Tell, visit https://grady.uga.edu/graduate_studies/hear-tell/.
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July 14, 2020
Kim Lute, Tom Cullen, Jasmin Pittman Morrell, and Diana Keough read short narrative essays composed during their low-residency coursework over the past year. The stories share the theme of family, and consider the lessons our ancestors and loved ones provide us today.
This episode is the first Hear-Tell episode produced from the safety of the homes of our guests and host. Considering the health of our contributors in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the show will continue in this fashion for the near future.
Follow Hear-Tell on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
June 9, 2020
Karen Thomas, a 2017 MFA graduate, reads an essay called "Traveling Graces," which is adapted from a chapter from an in-progress book project currently titled "Stealing Away: Alzheimer's and One African-American Family's Journey," which is currently seeking a publisher.
The story follows the day Thomas moved her mother, who had Alzheimer's and died in 2016, into an assisted living facility. The plan had been long in the making, but when moving day finally arrived, Thomas worried if that decision was truly for the best.
Following a distinguished career in newspaper journalism, Thomas now serves as a professor of practice at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.