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September 27, 2023 Modern Law Library

Tales of 3 generations of Black women intertwine to form 'Memphis'

By Julianne Hill

Admittedly, Tara M. Stringfellow became an attorney simply because her first book of poetry didn’t sell and she needed an income. But after a few years at Crown Castle in Chicago doing family and real estate law, she left, heading straight to the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Northwestern University to get back into the writing game—this time with a lawyer’s sharpened pencil.

In this episode of The Modern Law Library podcast, the ABA Journal’s Julianne Hill talks to Stringfellow, author of Memphis.

They talk about how her lawyerly research techniques prepared her to dig into her family’s history to develop characters in this novel focused on three generations of Black women and spanning seven decades. She also discusses the inspiration found in The Color Purple and her desire to create more stories focused on Black women.

Stringfellow also shares how the storytelling techniques of building an argument, learned in law school, now shapes her creative work and how being an attorney has impacted her relationships with agents and publishers.

In This Podcast

Tara M. Stringfellow

Tara M. Stringfellow is a poet, a former attorney, a Master of Fine Arts graduate of Northwestern University and a semifinalist for the Fulbright Program fellowship. She has written for Collective Unrest, Minerva Rising, Jet Fuel Review, WomensArts Quarterly Journal and Apogee Journal, among other publications. After having lived in Okinawa; Ghana; Chicago; Cuba; Spain; Italy; and Washington, D.C., she moved back home to Memphis, Tennessee, where she sits on her porch swing every evening with her hound, Huckleberry, listening to records and chatting with neighbors.