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Award-winning writer Dorothy Allison to visit Austin Peay as Acuff Chair of Excellence on Oct. 27

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — In any form, writing is the expression of an author’s view of the world. Some write to educate or entertain, while others write simply to document the people, places and events of the time. Still, others can see the potential of the medium for something else; the really special ones see writing as a way to provoke uncertainty, and maybe make sense of the nonsensical along the way.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — In any form, writing is the expression of an author’s view of the world. Some write to educate or entertain, while others write simply to document the people, places and events of the time. Still, others can see the potential of the medium for something else; the really special ones see writing as a way to provoke uncertainty, and maybe make sense of the nonsensical along the way.

An award-winning writer, poet and novelist Dorothy Allison is many other things: a feminist, an activist, a mother, teacher — and a provocateur. But to become everything she is today, she had to begin her life as something else entirely.

The current Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence recipient, Allison will be on the campus of Austin Peay State University on Oct. 27 for an evening reading of her work. The event, which takes place at 8 p.m., will be held at Clement Auditorium and is free to the public.  

Allison has won a number of literary awards, including two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing for her 1988 short story collection, “Trash.” She received mainstream recognition with her novel, “Bastard Out of Carolina,” a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. “Bastard Out of Carolina” became a bestseller, and an Emmy Award-winning film.

Her 1995 book, “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure” was named the New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, while her 1998 book, “Cavedweller,” was also a national bestseller and has been adapted for the stage and film.

Awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Allison is a member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. 

“I'm thrilled to be able to bring Dorothy Allison to our campus to read her work and spend several weeks with our students,” Dr. Amy Wright, Austin Peay associate professor, said. “She is one of the great contemporary American prose writers. I also appreciate that she arose from humble beginnings as the daughter of a waitress, rather than of a CEO. She's a first generation college student who made her way in the wider world toward awards for her best-selling writing.

“I respect the genius of her syntax as much as the triumph of her personal narrative, which draws on emotional hardships and adversity to offer life-affirming stories of humor, depth and tremendous character.”

Born in South Carolina, Allison grew up the daughter of a 15-year-old unwed mother. As a young woman, she withstood years of physical and mental abuse from the violent men and troubled women in her life. But it wasn’t until she began writing that she found an out; in writing, Allison discovered the tools to make sense of her upbringing and realize that she no longer needed anyone’s permission to be the driven, provocative and gifted thinker she had always been.

Established in 1985, the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence brings regionally and nationally acclaimed artists to campus to work with students and the community in a dynamic atmosphere of unrestricted experimentation. Each Acuff Chair gives a public performance and visits the campus for about a week.

For more information on the reading, or this year’s Acuff Chair of Excellence, contact the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 221-7876.