These people start with a blank page and end with something that didn’t exist before: a completely new piece of music, poetry or art. Featuring country songwriter Victoria Banks, poet TJ Jarrett and public artist Bryce McCloud.
This episode was produced from a live taping in WPLN’s Studio C in June 2016. It was hosted and produced by Emily Siner; engineered by Carl Peterson and Cameron Adkins; and edited by Mack Linebaugh and Anita Bugg.
Victoria Banks (@victoriabanks) has been labeled “one of the best songwriters in the business” by Nashville’s Music Row Magazine. As a staff songwriter for a Nashville publishing company, she has written hits for many artists, including Sara Evans and Jessica Simpson. She has also been named Canadian Country Music’s female artist of the year and songwriter of the year on the strength of her own three albums. She’s an avid educator of aspiring songwriters, both through collaborative workshops and by sharing glimpses of her creative process on her blog and newsletter.
TJ Jarrett (@Mathilde1469) is a poet and health care software developer in Nashville. Her debut collection of poems, Ain’t No Grave, was published three years ago, and her second collection, Zion, won the 2013 Crab Orchard poetry competition. Her recent work has been published or is forthcoming in Poetry, African American Review, Boston Review and others. She also was anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. Outside of poetry, she has worked in software design for more than 20 years with a specialty in data warehousing and business intelligence.
Bryce McCloud has sought to do his family proud by manufacturing novelty letterpress ephemera and inflicting public art mayhem on the largest possible audience allowed by the laws of nature. He founded the Isle of Printing shop in Nashville nearly 20 years ago and has worked with Third Man Records on its Grammy award-winning project, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records. In 2011, he worked in residency at the homeless shelter Room in the Inn, which led to a city-wide, multi-year public art project called Our Town Nashville. His large-scale installations have been featured around town — including inside Barista Parlor and Pinewood Social — and internationally.
TJ Jarrett’s poem about her father’s car repair habit is called “Of Late, I Have Been Thinking About Despair.”
its ruthless syntax, and the ease with which it interjects
itself into our days. I thought how best to explain this—
this dark winter, but that wasn’t it, or beds unshared
but that isn’t exactly it either, until I remembered
Saturday afternoons spent with my father in the garage
and those broken cars one after another. At the time,
that’s what we could afford. Broken things. Saturdays,
there was always a game on the radio and I’d stand
beside him or lie under the engine, oil cascading from
the oilpan. Daddy would curse wildly, sometimes
about the car, sometimes about the game. Sometimes
Mama called for one or the other of us from upstairs and
I’d trudge up to see what she wanted with a sigh.
We sighed so much then. Funny. If you asked us
if we were happy, we’d say: Families. They are happy.
There’s a solace in broke-down cars: you can find what
is broken. You can make it whole again. I’d pop the hood,
peer into the sooty inside and Daddy would pass me parts
for my small hands to tender to each need. Daddy
scrambled into the front seat, turned a key and a roar
came out that would be cause for rejoicing. But time came,
(this is the inevitable part) when he would draw the white
handkerchief to his head in surrender. I would always ask
if we could’ve tried harder. Baby girl, he’d say. She’s gone.