Graves, Roy Neil 1939- (Neil Graves, Giles Jimson, Margaret Medford)

views updated

Graves, Roy Neil 1939- (Neil Graves, Giles Jimson, Margaret Medford)


Born February 2, 1939, in Medina, TN; son of Roy Neil, Sr. (a garage owner) and Georgia Mae (a homemaker and secretary) Graves; married Sue Lain Hunt, June 5, 1965 (divorced, 1982); children: Anna Hunt, Benjamin Lain, Molly Brett. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Union University, Jackson, TN, 1957-59; Princeton University, B.A., 1961; Duke University, M.A., 1964; University of Mississippi, D.Arts, 1977. Politics: "Yellow-dog Democrat." Hobbies and other interests: Gay rights activities, competitive running (including marathons), choral music, regional antiques, log cabin reconstruction.


Home—Martin, TN. Office—131F Holt Humanities Bldg., University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN 38238. E-mail—[email protected]


"Swamp Fox II" (project of the U.S. Army), civilian technical writer and editor in Durham, NC, and in Panama, 1962-63; University of Virginia, Lynchburg, assistant professor, 1965-67; Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of English and coordinator of Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1967-69; University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, began as assistant professor, became professor of English, 1969—. Duke University, worked as instructor; Tennessee Governor's School for the Humanities, instructor, 1985-96. Martin Public Library, member of board of directors, 1981-83.


Tennessee Philological Association, University of Tennessee at Martin Third Century Club.


Grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1975, and Tennessee Arts Commission, 1976; Carnegie Foundation fellow, 1976-77; first place award for poetry, Southern Poets over 50 Competition, Kennesaw State University, 2002.


The Story of Hall-Moody, 1900-1927: A Picture History of UTM's Parent Institution, National Alumni Association, University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN), 1975.

(Under name Neil Graves) Medina and Other Poems, Old Hickory Press (Jackson, TN), 1976.

Somewhere on the Interstate (poetry chapbook), Ion Books (Memphis, TN), 1987.

Shakespeare's Lost Sonnets: The Norris Bulletin Essays, University of Tennessee at Martin (Martin, TN), 2005.

Also author of the doctoral essay "Out of Tennessee," University of Mississippi, 1977. Editor, "River Region Monographs: Reports on People and Popular Culture," University of Tennessee at Martin, 1975. Work represented in anthologies, including Celebration: A Bicentennial Anthology, edited by Robert Simonton, Poetry Society of Tennessee (Memphis, TN), 1976; Homewords: A Book of Tennessee Writers, edited by Douglas Paschall and Alice Swanson, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1986; Homeworks: A Book of Tennessee Writers, edited by Swanson and Phyllis Tickle, University of Tennessee Press, 1996; and Always at Home Here: Insights and Poems from Six Tennessee Poets, edited by Ernest Lee, McGraw (New York, NY), 1997. Contributor of articles, poetry, and reviews to periodicals, including Christian Science Monitor, Explicator, Appalachian Journal, Phylon, Spenser Studies, Runner's World, Upstart Crow: Shakespeare Journal, and Tennessee Philological Bulletin. Some writing appear under the pseudonyms Giles Jimson and Margaret Medford.


Roy Neil Graves once told CA: "I'm a teaching writer in an undergraduate college setting in northwestern Tennessee, where I've lived since 1969. Since high school in the late 1950s, I've been a practicing poet. I started by writing sonnets, and my move into freer verse came gradually in the 1970s. By the 1990s my poems were being included in standard anthologies of Tennessee poets. I've often said that I write poems mostly because I'm not skilled at plot or dialogue. Short, expressive poems are, in effect, what's left that I can handle.

"Since 1976 or 1977 I've focused my scholarly writings mostly on various aspects of coterie game-playing and sprezzatura in literary texts from the Old English riddles forward. Such projects have their collective origins in my unprecedented discovery in 1977 of ‘the Pearl Rune,’ a lost 21-line composition hidden in the manuscript of the medieval Pearl. This ‘lost pearl’ has numerological and game-like aspects, including reverse readings and acrostic elements. The runic paradigm led me by 1979 into limited explorations of coterie compositions in the Old English riddles of The Exeter Book and into a much more extensive project examining and reconstituting coterie aspects of Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnets contain 154 lost authorizations, each recycling sonnet lines in authorially controlled permutations. Establishment resistance to my findings in the 1609 Quarto has been strong and persistent, making publication by journals and university presses an uphill fight that continues. My findings, which I believe will eventually gain an enlightened hearing, are so far published piecemeal in Spenser Studies, Upstart Crow: Shakespeare Journal, and the Explicator. I've also presented sample materials in conference papers. The full range of my findings is published electronically on my Shakespeare Web site.

"My interest in coterie writings has led to published offshoot articles on coy or gamy aspects of the writings of Edmund Spenser, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Thomas Hardy, Alden Nowlan, John Peale Bishop, Walter Raleigh, and William Blake. I also discovered a lost ‘G.F. Handel’ name pun in Handel's Messiah.

"In several instances, as in Runner's World and the Christian Science Monitor, I've written for popular rather than scholarly audiences. I have a special interest, too, in regional history and culture. A generalist, I've published variously in reference works dealing with topics in literature, sociology, ethics, and multiculturalism. The published interview by Ernest Lee and others in Always at Home Here: Insights and Poems from Six Tennessee Poets provides the fullest available discussion of my work as a poet.

"As a college writing teacher who's also enjoyed working in the Tennessee Governor's School and the university's international program, I try to keep in mind the lessons I learn from my ongoing struggles to make my own unlikely-sounding discoveries clear to readers. My interest in the nuanced language of poetry also carries over into my concerns with the style of the prose that my students and I try to write. I think of all writing as ‘creative,’ and, though I'm a kind of genre-oriented formalist, I try not to draw too fine a line between one kind of writing and another. In every case the writer's job, hard but joyfully rewarding, is to engage, persuade, and move readers into new modes of insight."



Families and History of Gibson County, Wadsworth (Salem, WV), 1989.


University of Tennessee at Martin Web site: A Literary Discovery Web site—Shakespeare's Lost Sonnets, a Restoration of the Runes, (August 21, 2007).

University of Tennessee at Martin Web site: Roy Neil Graves Home Page, (August 21, 2007).

About this article

Graves, Roy Neil 1939- (Neil Graves, Giles Jimson, Margaret Medford)

Updated About content Print Article