Joy Keys chats with Author Jeffrey Renard Allen about Song of the Shank


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Special Guest: Jeffrey Renard Allen. Born in Chicago, Allen holds a Ph.D. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently a faculty member in the writing program at the New School. Allen is the author of two collections of poetry, Stellar Places (Moyer Bell, 2007) andHarbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell, 1999), and two works of fiction, the widely celebrated novel, Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000), which won The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, and the story collection Holding Pattern (Graywolf Press, 2008), which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. He is presently at work on a memoir-travelogue-meditation that uses his travels about the African continent to frame an exploration of subjects such as place, race, religion, music and culture, identity, and family. In May 2014, Graywolf Press published his novel Song of the Shank, which is based on the life of Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth-century African-American piano virtuoso and composer who performed under the stage name Blind Tom.

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