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Solitude is the inspirational core for many writers, artists, and thinkers. Alone with our thoughts, we can make discoveries that matter not only to us but to others. Author Fenton Johnson celebrates the notion, common in his Roman Catholic childhood, that solitude is a legitimate and dignified calling. He joins us on Town Hall’s stage, in conversation with author and journalist Dianne Aprile, to explore the lives and works of nearly a dozen iconic “solitaries” who Johnson considers his kindred spirits.
Drawing from Johnson’s new book At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life, Johnson and Aprile offer character portraits of immense detail—from Thoreau at Walden Pond and Emily Dickinson in Amherst, to Bill Cunningham photographing the streets of New York to the fiercely self-protective Zora Neale Hurston. Johnson contemplates the legacies of these solitary artists who illuminate his own journey from his childhood in the backwoods of Kentucky to his travels alone throughout the world and the people he has lost and found along the way. Join Johnson and Aprile for an introspective account that resonates with anyone who might wish to carve out more space for solitude.
Fenton Johnson lives in San Francisco and Tucson, but is often found hiking his native Kentucky. An award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, he teaches at the University of Arizona and Spalding University, contributes to Harper’s magazine, and has been featured on Fresh Air.
Dianne Aprile is an award-winning journalist and author of The Abbey of Gethsemani: Place of Peace and Paradox. She teaches creative non-fiction on the faculty of the Spalding University Master of Fine Arts in Writing program.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.