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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

February literary series in new location

Joe Tennis speaks about “Swamped” Feb. 3.
Joe Tennis speaks about “Swamped” Feb. 3.
Additional photos below »

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 30, 2019

The Friends of the Washington County Public Library celebrate the beginning of the annual Sunday with Friends literary series. The February talks have been moved to the Abingdon Community Center, Abingdon, Virginia. Originally scheduled for the main library, they have been moved because of construction.

The first speaker in the series is Joe Tennis, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m.

Tennis is a feature writer for the Bristol Herald Courier and the author of eight books about the history and culture of Virginia. “Swamped!” is his second novel and captures his memories of growing up in Virginia Beach. It follows four teenagers as they explore the saltwater swamps of coastal Virginia and then have to find their way out after breaking an oar on their rowboat. It is a comic adventure and a coming-of-age story. Tennis’s other books include “Along Virginia’s Route 58: True Tales from Beach to Bluegrass,” “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth,” “Southwest Virginia Crossroads” and “Haunts of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands.”

Bill Sizemore speaks Feb. 17. He is the author of “Uncle George & Me: Two Southern Families Confront a Shared Legacy of Slavery.” The book tells the story of his slave-owning Virginia ancestors, their slaves and those slaves’ descendants. Its thread runs through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, the Great Migration and the struggle for civil rights. Retired from the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, he has written about topics as varied as state government and politics, the private military contractor Blackwater, the televangelist Pat Robertson and Virginia’s prison-building boom.

Mark Powell is featured Feb. 24. Powell is one of the finest of young Appalachian writers. His work includes “Prodigals,” “Blood Kin,” “The Dark Corner,” “The Sheltering” and “Small Treasons.” He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia. In 2009 he received the Chaffin Award for contributions to Appalachian literature. He holds degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina and the Citadel. He teaches creative writing and contemporary fiction at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

The Friends of the Washington County Public Library sponsor the “Sunday with Friends” literary series. All events are free and open to the public. They include receptions, book sales and signings. For more information, call 276-676-6298 or visit

Topics: Literature

Bill Sizemore speaks about “Uncle George and Me” Feb. 17. All talks are at 3 p.m., at the Abingdon Community Center on Senior Drive in Abingdon, Virginia.

Sizemore wrote "Uncle George and Me."

Mark Powell speaks about his work, including “Small Treasons” Feb. 24.

Powell wrote “Small Treasons.”