Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reading for Inaugural National Award for Arts Writing

Poet Kim Roberts has brought the following event to our attention:

Reading (with music) by Scott Reynolds Nelson, winner of the Arts Club of Washington’s inaugural National Award for Arts Writing for Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, The Untold Story of an American Legend (Oxford University Press).

Tuesday, May 22, 7 pm
Arts Club of Washington
2017 I Street, NW
Washington, DC
Farragut West and Farragut North Metro
For more information:, 202-331-7282 x 15.

The National Award for Arts Writing is given annually by the Arts Club of Washington in recognition of excellence in writing about the arts for a broad audience. The substantial Award of $15,000 is the only one of its kind the country.

The ballad “John Henry” is the most recorded folk song in American history and John Henry –the mighty railroad man who could blast through rock faster than a steam drill – is a towering figure in our culture. In Steel Drivin’ Man, Scott Reynolds Nelson masterfully captures the life of the ballad, tracing the song’s evolution from work song through the blues to its place as the premiere American folk song; from the first printed score by blues legend W. C. Handy, to Carl Sandburg’s use of the ballad to become the first “folk singer,” to the upbeat version by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Scott Reynolds Nelson is Legum Professor of History at the College of William and Mary. The author of Iron Confederacies: Southern Railways, Klan Violence, and Reconstruction, and coauthor, with Carol Sheriff, of A People At War: Civilians and Soldiers in America’s Civil War, he served as a consultant on the forthcoming PBS documentary on John Henry. Steel Drivin’ Man has also received two other awards: a 2007 Merle Curti Prize from the Organization of American Historians and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction, an award that recognizes books on race and culture.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.