Aug 24 2010

Deliverance turns 40, a look back at an evening with James Dickey

Published by at 10:08 pm under news,portraits

James Dickey’s break-out novel Deliverance celebrates its 40 publishing anniversary this year.┬áThe photo below was taken nine years later when he was visiting Sanibel Island. He’s best known for the novel about the ill-fated canoe trip that was turned into hit movie. Dwight Garner has a wonderful remembrance of the book and his life in today’s New York Times.

I was the resident photo editor at the local Sanibel-Captiva Islander and friends with Fleur Weymouth, a wonderful photographer that taught me the beauty of minimalism in nature photography. Dickey was in town giving a poetry reading and was invited the the after-party at Fleur’s house. (The wood-pecker painting was created by George Weymouth.)

JamesDickey Deliverance turns 40, a look back at an evening with James Dickey

Poet and author James Dickey in the home of Fleur Weymouth on Sanibel Island

Dickey clearly was the center of attention for the evening whether it was on the stage reading or playing guitar – including a bit of the famous dueling banjo theme from the movie.

The biggest treat for me though was his poetry reading. I was never a big poetry fan then or now, but Dickiy’s readings were always a treat. The poems he read that evening were very accessible, entertaining and he was a wonderful story teller. Here’s a short sample of him speaking.

The remainder of the Summer would be a great time to catch-up, or re-read the novel or see the movie. For me the anniversary is a great reminder of a memorable evening. Do you have memories of the movie, the book or a personal connection to share?

Mark Harmel


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