Meacham Writer’s Workshop: Building Community through Writing

Held during fall and spring semester, Meacham Writer’s Workshop is a three day conference which invites lovers of poetry and prose to listen and interact with its authors. Founded by the late Jean Meacham, a former UTC professor, it was Jean’s dream that the workshop be a free and public event where both professional and amateur writers could communicate and grow in their work. In previous years, Meacham has boasted readings by Pulitzer Prize winning poets such as Philip Levine and James Tate alongside some of our own published and highly awarded creative writing professors like Earl Braggs and Rebecca Cook. This year on Oct. 24th through the 26th  multiple Meacham’s readings were given throughout the day within seminar halls around campus and in local downtown venues. The final morning of the conference concluded with a workshop in which writers who had submitted their pieces were given the opportunity to hear constructive criticism from visiting writers.

Meacham Writer’s Workshop is a community where writing is shared, appreciated and nurtured. Cody Taylor, student coordinator of Meacham from Hendersonville TN., elaborated on this idea by stating, “[Meacham] is the cornerstone of the creative writing community. It’s an opportunity you don’t get at other colleges. It allows students and writers to interact as peers.”  The appeal of the conference is not solely for those trying to improve their writing skills, the conference is a free occasion to be entertained by some of the greatest writers in the business. From non-fiction writers to poets the genres are varied and vastly unique.  Halley Corapi, a junior at UTC from Knoxville TN. and a spectator at Friday night’s reading, had this to say about Meacham, “It’s always great even if I’ve heard the poem before. I feel like I’m getting something new from it each time.”  There is something time honored about Meacham in a time where writing programs are underfunded or nonexistent. As Carrie Meadows, assistant director of Meacham Writer’s Workshop, explained, “I think there is a consistency about Meacham, people get captivated by it. It’s an anchor for writer’s to know that it will always be there.”

Drunk History: Comedy Central’s Intoxicated Retelling of American History

Is there anything more American than getting drunk and retelling America’s history? Much like the Fourth of July, the premise of Drunk History is to get drunk and incohertently reminisce on our nation’s past. Drunk History is half-hour series which airs on Tuesdays on Comedy Central. Based on the popular YouTube series, the show features A-list actors such as Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle reenacting historical events. But these are not the textbook retellings from your thick-glassed elementary school teacher. The narrators of these “history lessons” happen to be extremely intoxicated. Host and creator Derek Waters, travels across America, employing a cast of comedians to act as the inebriated storyteller’s of American history.

The episode I watched retold the friendship between Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas during the Civil War. The show preludes by saying on March 22 comedian Jen Kirkman drank two bottles of wine and discussed a historical event. Crowned in a ridiculous top hat, Will Ferrell as Abraham Lincoln enters the scene. Kirkman, providing the voice of the actor’s, assumes the voice of Senator Palmer and says” Lincoln this guy [Fredrick Douglas] is talking a good game you should meet with him. “From there, abolitionist Fredrick Douglas, portrayed by an absurdly wigged Don Cheadle lays down his demands for equality. As Kirkman drunkenly puts it, Douglas longed for black soldiers to “1. Fight in the war and 2. Get equal pay and 3. If they become prisoners of war don’t effing kill them.”     

As the tale is being retold, there are brief comically intermissions in which the narrator stumbles to get more wine or simply asks “I didn’t take my pants off, did I?” Drunk history is a hilarious interpretation of the dusty stories of our past. The enthusiasm of the narrators, paired with their determination to get facts straight makes what should be a serious event into a comedic masterpiece.