Nashville boasts a better literary scene than Atlanta's.
The recent death of popular novelist Anne Rivers Siddons highlighted that writers often leave Atlanta after launching their careers here. A writer for Atlanta magazine early in her career, Siddons examined Atlanta in her best-selling "Peachtree Road." But she left Atlanta behind and called Charleston home.
The late Pat Conroy returned to Atlanta for a while, but soon left for South Carolina. A couple of years ago, Tayari Jones, author of the acclaimed "An American Marriage," came back to her hometown. But the novelist recently accepted a professor's post at Cornell, according to the university's web site.
Georgia State professor David Bottoms and Emory's Jericho Brown are nationally known poets. But Atlanta was hurt by the departures of poets Natasha Trethewey and Kevin Young.
Nashville receives mega national attention from the presence of acclaimed novelist Ann Patchett, co-owner of the overrated independent bookstore Parnassus. Publication of Patchett's newest novel, "The Dutch House," brought a new burst of features about Patchett and Parnassus, including the obligatory mention of the dog who roams the store.
Accomplished short story writer and novelist Lorrie Moore is the star of Vanderbilt's creative writing faculty. Poet and critic Mark Jarman is a longtime pillar of the school's program.
Though her "our old silver" and Southern mists pieces make me shudder, Nashville-based Margaret Renkl frequently writes for The New York Times op-ed page.
A few miles south of Nashville, Sewanee boasts one of the nation's top summer writers' conferences, directed from the start by nationally regarded poet and critic Wyatt Prunty.
Noted novelist and short story writer Jamie Quarto stands out among the University of the South's faculty. Biographer, presidential historian and TV pundit Jon Meacham, a University of the South alum, lives in Sewanee.
The university also publishes the venerable Sewanee Review, which recently received a long overdue facelift and jolt of new energy from Editor Adam Ross, author of the novel "Mr. Peanut." Bottoms a few years ago established the literary journal Five Points, which publishes nationally known writers. But it lacks the stature of the Sewanee Rivew.
On a recent visit to Nashville, reading the weekly news magazine Nashville Scene, I wondered why Atlanta can no longer support such a publication that strongly covers politics, arts, books, food and music. Nashville's many local music venues give Nashville Scene a strong advertising base. Atlanta's once vibrant Creative Loafing is now a fading monthly, while Atlanta magazine's features show more desperation than creativity.
I'm sure Atlanta has a flourishing literary scene of which I'm unaware. The annual Decatur Book Festival brings out a huge population of readers, and a couple of independent bookstores seek to maintain the legacy of Oxford Books.
But the smaller Nashville outshines Atlanta.