Author Beth Duke at JSU library
JSU’s Friends of Houston Cole Library is hosting author Beth Duke as the spring literary speaker March 6 at 7 p.m. on the library’s 11th floor. Duke is the author of several prize-winning short stories. Her work has been featured in Pearl: A Literary Magazine, Longleaf Style magazine and in the British anthology, “The Possibility of Bears.”
Duke, who lives in Delta, will speak on “Delaney’s People,” her novel of small stories, and its sequel, “Don’t Shoot Your Mule.” “Delaney’s People” is about a young girl growing up in an Alabama town, centering on her parents, grandparents and Irish ancestors and how they came to settle in the state. The sequel brings Delaney and her family into present times. Both books depict family ties, love, loss and betrayal in a very real way.
“Delaney’s People is my love letter to Alabama,” Duke, a native of Anniston, said. “I wanted to show off the best parts of the state. That was very important to me.”
Each chapter is told from a different point of view. “Delaney’s People” especially pays tribute to earlier generations while “Don’t Shoot Your Mule” takes readers on a turbulent, surprise-filled trip from Depression-era rural Alabama through the 2011 tornadoes and the impact on Delaney’s family and friends.
“The title ‘Don’t Shoot Your Mule’ came from a true story in the 1930s centering on a very frustrated farmer and his mule,” Duke said. The title became an expression of advice in Delaney’s family, Duke added. “It’s about not doing away with the best thing you have going for you.”
Randy Owens, lead singer of the band Alabama, is an admirer of Duke’s writing. On the back cover of “Delaney’s People” he writes, “Beth Duke’s works are as real as grits and gravy in The South, and her usage of her Southern English has the taste of Mama’s biscuits.”
After living in Weaver during her early years, Duke, who was a guest speaker at the Calhoun County Writers’ group last fall, lived in Florida and Pennsylvania but longed to return to her home state, she said.
“I missed the scenery, the people, and the southern way of life,” Duke explained.
Her presentation will give practical advice about mastering the mechanics of self-publishing and promoting one’s work in the marketplace.
Copies of Duke’s books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be served following the presentation. The public is invited.
Local color at Nunnally’s gallery
Local artists take center stage inside Nunnally’s Framing and Art Gallery in downtown Anniston where there are enough color combinations in paintings to challenge the most-detailed color wheel. In our fast-paced lives it’s nice to see such a display that lets you feel emotion and remember the experiences that come into play as you see these works.
The oils and watercolors are primarily by artists from Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford. For the most part they have all exhibited in the Southeast and/or nationally, and have earned art degrees in Alabama universities.
Rita Springer of Anniston is one of the artists. Her paintings often reflect distant destinations she’s experienced that take the viewer’s mind into different cultures. Her watercolor “St. Abbs, Scotland” focuses on a small, picturesque fishing village in southeastern Scotland where she traveled to attend a painting workshop.
“It was a village rich in heritage that made me think of ‘Brigadoon,’” Springer recalls.
Other local artists have painted scenes of gardens, farms, winding country roads, historical locales and the memory of a day at the beach. For an afternoon’s escape into a variety of life’s twists and turns, see the exhibit, which will be up through April.