Meet the Knoxville Mercury’s Columnists

In Columns, Cover Stories, News by Coury Turczynleave a COMMENT

Here’s our inaugural group of columnists whose work will be debuting in the next several issues of the Knoxville Mercury:

Chris Barrett is a former Metro Pulse staff writer who’s now a senior assistant at Knox County Public Library. With Shelf Life, he’ll alert readers to new arrivals at the library’s stellar Sights and Sounds collection, along with recommendations and reminders of staples worthy of revisiting.

Patrice Cole has 25 years of professional experience in environmental science and sustainability. She has also taught biology, ecology, environmental planning, and sustainability at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College. She earned a master’s degree in planning and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at UT. Her column, Small Planet, educates readers on local issues pertaining to environmental quality and sustainability.

Eric Dawson is a longtime local music journalist and former A&E editor of the Knoxville Voice. Now, as an archivist with the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, he will comb the vaults for nuggets of lost Knoxville music history to share with us.

George Dodds has been teaching and publishing commentaries on the practice and history of architecture, urbanism, and landscape architecture for over 30 years. He has practiced in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., has lectured internationally, and has served on the editorial boards of several journals. Since 2000, he has been on the faculty of architecture at the University of Tennessee. Architecture Matters explores issues concerning the human-made environment, primarily focused on Knoxville and its environs.

Nick Huinker is fortunate to have spent time in the front row of the near-constant renaissance that defines Knoxville’s DIY music scene, not only as the frontman for a mid-’00s shriek-rock also-ran but also as a journalist covering music and film in Knoxville newsweeklies for the better part of a decade. Retro Grade spotlights lost or nearly forgotten documents of Knoxville’s storied music scene, featuring background on the recording, artist reminiscences, and testimonials from local notables—plus a full stream of the music, available at our website.

Donna Johnson describes herself as a person who thrives on breaking the rules other people have made while also creating rules for herself that do make sense. “My rules do not necessarily follow the law set out by the government and law-abiding citizens,” she says. “They follow an inner law, one unto myself, and when I attempt to go outside this, to conform, disaster follows.” Her stories are often about people who are not recognized by others, who may even seem invisible, but “they often have a great truth to share if one but listens.”

Rose Kennedy came to Knoxville to work as an editorial assistant on 13-30’s Retail Appliance Management Series and never saw a reason to leave. Her “so uncool I’m cool” career among the alt weekly newspaper crowd has led to award-winning articles on Dr. Bill Bass and the Body Farm and cyber-bullying at West High School, and treasonous food columns about preferring unsweet tea and feeling ambivalent about biscuits.

Dennis Perkins is the artistic director of the Knoxville Children’s Theatre, has directed and performed at the Actor’s Co-op and Black Box Theatre, and is a foodie par excellence. Home Palate is a tasty exploration of local options for eating out and eating well by way of restaurant reviews, features on fun or unusual food stuffs, and interviews with local food purveyors and tastemakers. It’s a candid and personal look at what’s right (and sometimes what’s wrong) with eating in Knoxville and its environs.

Stephanie Piper has been a newspaper reporter, editor, and award-winning columnist for more than 30 years. Her Midpoint column appeared monthly in Metro Pulse from 1997 until 2014. Her new column, At This Point, continues to examine the mystery, absurdity, and persistent beauty of daily life.

Eleanor Scott is freelance writer and columnist from Skinem, Tenn. She maintains the Parkridge Butterfly Meadow in East Knoxville. She also likes to explores Knoxville’s untidy corners, which she wrote about for Metro Pulse in A Living World. Her new column, Possum City, is named after the urban possum that takes bumbling joy in the back-alley wilds. Whole worlds teem in the cracks and borderlands of our mid-size Southern city, whether someone tells their stories on not. That’s what she’s interested in: a possum’s-eye view of the city.

Alan Sherrod covered classical music for Metro Pulse starting in 2007. In 2010, he won a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts—the Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera—under the auspices of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also operates his own blogs, Classical Journal and Arts Knoxville, and will continue to provide insight on Knoxville’s vibrant classical music scene for the Mercury.

Joe Sullivan is the former owner and publisher of Metro Pulse (1992-2003) as well as a longtime columnist covering local politics, education, development, business, and tennis. His new column, Perspectives, will cover much of the same terrain.

Kim Trevathan has been teaching writing (journalism, creative nonfiction, and fiction) at Maryville College for 15 years. His books, all published by the University of Tennessee Press, are Paddling the Tennessee River: A Voyage on Easy Water (2001), Coldhearted River: A Canoe Odyssey Down the Cumberland (2006), and Liminal Zones: Where Lakes End and Rivers Begin (2013). He has been on the board of the Little River Watershed Association for the past two and a half years. His Voice in the Wilderness feature takes readers on an exploration of the Knoxville area’s outdoors.

Chris Wohlwend spent 35 years working for newspapers and magazines in Miami, Charlotte, Louisville, Dallas, Kansas City, and Atlanta. As an editor, he was involved in winning several national awards. He returned to Knoxville in the late 1990s and now teaches journalism part-time at the University of Tennessee. Restless Native will address the characters and absurdities of Knoxville, as well as the lessons learned pursuing the newspaper trade during the tumult that was the 1960s.

PLUS: Our Own Comic Strip Artist!

Matthew Foltz-Gray was born and raised in Knoxville, a quiet child who loved cartoons. A bit surprised that real people drew them, he decided that’s what he wanted to do. At the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he focused on storytelling and illustration before returning to Knoxville, this cartoon strip already bubbling in his head. Spirit of the Staircase is about an unlikely friendship between Mumford, an innocent and adorable creature, and Matt, a neurotic, self-deprecating human.

Editor Coury Turczyn guided Knoxville's alt weekly, Metro Pulse, through two eras, first as managing editor (and later executive editor) from 1992 to 2000, then as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2014. He's also worked as a Web editor at CNET, the erstwhile G4 cable network, and HGTV.

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