Creative Class of 2015: Jay Jennings

jennings_jayAuthor, raconteur, and music aficionado Jay Jennings contributes to Little Rock’s cultural life in a variety of ways as a participant and promoter. He may well know more about author Charles Portis, than the author himself.  When not traveling to discuss or create good literature, he is often found at various Little Rock music venues.

Jennings is a freelance writer whose journalism, book reviews and humor have appeared in many national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford American, and Travel & Leisure. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is a past chair of the Arkansas Literary Festival.

He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, where he covered college football and basketball, followed by four years as the features editor at Tennis magazine. While at the latter, he edited an anthology of short stories and poetry, Tennis and the Meaning of Life: A Literary Anthology of the Game(Breakaway Books, 1999), which the New Yorker called “a delight—and perhaps a surprise—to those who know and care about literature.” His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. He is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and was awarded a grant in 2008 from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress. Most recently, he edited a collection of Charles Portis’s work, Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, which was published in 2012 by Butler Center Books and in paperback in 2013 by Overlook Press.

Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City was his first book and was named a 2010 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.