Sunday, March 02, 2008

Conscious of Their Roots

Southern roots, that is. This weekend, we got to visit with two talented Georgia natives who have had success in their fields and are grounded in a genuine concern for what matters.

As I mentioned in the last post, at the GO conference we got to eat dinner with Janisse Ray, winner of several book awards, whose poetic, wry memoirs have moved me deeply. She grew up in a small town in the south from which she couldn't wait to get away. She became an environmentalist and a writer, living as far away as Montana, before she felt pulled home to reconnect with her roots. Her literary non-fiction and activism has helped to bring more attention to the plight of her beloved Long-Leaf Pine and to other endangered plant and animal species. If I had my copies of her books, I would be quoting from them in order to let her writing inspire you to immediately put her on your list of writers to read. But as with my Annie Lamott and Kingsolver books, I've lent them to friends. My favorite was Wild Card Quilt but Ecology of a Southern Cracker is also laugh and cry out loud wonderful, and got more acclaim. I loved finding out the other night that she too was inspired to change the way she eats by the Weston Price diet and that her son goes to my alma-mater. It was wonderful to hear her read her poem and to talk about literary non-fiction. I even talked about one day maybe writing it myself (though then I'd have to write well, with a "literary" bent rather than a neurotic, improv., stream-of-consciousness-that-serves-as-my-therapy-bent, so maybe later).

The other southern-born celebrity of our weekend was Kyle Chandler, a friend of Nicolas' from high school. He, and his fantastically beautiful and interesting wife Katherine, came all the way from L.A. for two days in order to help raise money for a center that gives help to kids at risk for drug addiction. It was a small gathering at an auction in a rural GA town. He had brought hats and t-shirts from his hit tv show, "Friday Night Lights", and the big item of the night, which his wife won, was dinner with this "star." He got to see some buddies from high school, but he was truly there for the cause. He's not just really pretty (even more so than on screen) he is also a great father, husband and friend. And his show, despite having some football in it, is really a fantastically written,directed and acted drama about relationships, with good music and brilliant, moody lighting. It is the only series that Nicolas and I watch regularly without waiting for it to be on netflix (though Nicolas would love it to have more football;)

The thing that Janisse and Kyle share besides being down to earth and having big hearts is a beautiful southern accent (they're not all created equal) that just melts my yankee side and makes me more proud to call Georgia home.

12 hours later, I have visited my talented friend Stephanie's blog and have seen her latest creation, a video about a local southern restauranteur doing the right thing with local organics and making really delicious food in a very hip atmosphere. Stephanie is an amazing writer and photographer (among other things) and has that same sensual, mesmerizing southern accent, so I had to add her to the list. Listen to her on her video and let her voice welcome you up onto a big southern porch with Magnolia blossoms all around you, a sweating glass of lemonade waiting for you in your smiling hostess' outstretched hand.


littlepurplecow said...

Loved seeing you Saturday night! Annie Lamott is one of my all time favorites. I'll add Janisse Ray to my stack.

Madeline said...

You were posting as I posted on yours! I was telling you that I am adding your video to this post, which I am as soon as I am not needed..

Deanne said...

Ooooo! I love Kyle Chandler. I first saw him on the series set in the 1940's (I can't remember the name). Then I watched him in "Early Edition" - religiously! *g* It's so cool to know that the "good guy" vibe I sensed from him on screen, is true in real life.

Rachel said...

Are you kidding me? You write with a literary flair already! And the fact that you do it quickly, stream of consciousness style, means that you're even more gifted with this writing thing, as far as I'm concerned...imagine what you would write if you refined each paragraph...but no need, they are so beautiful as they are. I absolutely love your writing! Yay for literary non fiction!

Madeline said...

Thanks Rachel. I hope I didn't seem to be fishing. But thanks. One day I'll give myself more time for this writing therapy.