August 20, 2016
NMW’s Editor Emeritus, Founder, and prize-winning journalist Don Williams was entrusted with a very special role at The 13th Annual East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame Ceremony held on August 18th, 2016.
In Don’s own words:
The event is especially gratifying to me, not only for the great work the Friends of Literacy do, and not only because Pamela Schoenewaldt—author of three wonderful novels–and Margaret Lazarus Dean—who writes beautifully about space travel, a passion we share–are among the five being inducted.It’s especially meaningful because I’ve been asked to stand in for my late, lamented friend, Leslie Garrett, who’ll receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, posthumously. Better late than never. I’ve been asked to accept the award in memory of Les on behalf of family and friends.
Leslie Garrett was a writer of wit, intelligence, and tremendous talent who overcame long odds to produce an acclaimed body of work. Poet and scholar Calvin Hernton called his novel, The Beasts, “Enthralling, magical, painful, delicate, subtle… a masterpiece.” The L. A. Times called his last novel, “In the Country of Desire,” a masterpiece as well.
Shortly before his death, June 3, 1993, Leslie asked that in lieu of flowers, attendees give money to help a struggling writer. That led to KWG’s Leslie Garrett Award, which, for nearly a quarter century, has bestowed cash prizes and trophies on deserving scribes.
The benefits of such encouragement were never lost on my friend, whose life I chronicled several times over the years. In my reporting—including a cover article for Poets & Writers magazine in the spring of 1993–I discovered a sojourner who traveled the literary underground from Philadelphia to New Orleans to San Francisco to New York to Paris and Ibiza, before landing at last in Knoxville. Along the way, Les became acquainted with Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, James Jones, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni and, of course, Knoxville’s own Cormac McCarthy.
For those familiar with the late Leslie Garrett, and definitely for anyone hearing of Les for the first time, read Don’s full tribute on our page dedicated to Les Garrett (it’s only a two minute read). And if you’re still feeling adventurous you should dive right into Don’s articles chronicling the journey of this Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
You’re encouraged to leave memories, thoughts, and comments or send them directly to Don at the bottom of the tribute page.
For the past 13 years, Friends of Literacy has honored local authors’ contributions to our culture and history, celebrating those who entertain, inspire, and inform us through the written word. Honorees must have either been born in, currently reside in, or have a body of work related to the East Tennessee region.
Past Hall of Fame inductees include Cormac McCarthy, Nikki Giovanni, Quentin Tarantino, Marilyn Kallet, Jon Manchip White, Carson Brewer, James Agee, Wilma Dykeman, David Madden, and NMW Founding Editor Don Williams.
The 13th Annual East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame to benefit Friends of Literacy was held on August 18th, 2016. During the event, Friends of Literacy inducted five local writers into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in five categories. This year’s honorees are: Lifetime Achievement: Leslie Garrett, Fiction: Pamela Schoenewaldt, Nonfiction: Margaret Lazarus Dean, Poetry: Earl S. Braggs and Social Media: Randall Brown.