Terry Barr is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., and the author of Don’t Date Baptists and Other Warnings from my Alabama Mother, a collection of nonfiction essays centered on his hometown of Bessemer, Ala. His essays have been published in such journals as The Museum of Americana, Blue Lyra Review, Steel Toe Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, and South Writ Large, amongst many others. His essay “A Big-Ass Pot of Blended Soup” was nominated by Red Truck Review for the Best of the Net Award in 2015. He lives in Greenville, S.C., with his wife, two daughters, and their beloved pets, Morgan and Max (the Carolina Wild Dog).
Terry Barr grew up in the town of Bessemer, Alabama, a town characterized by its strange Southern richness. As a kid following his mother around the grocery store, whenever they’d pass a wire bin full of kids’ books, he’d ask her to buy him one, and she always would. She wouldn’t always buy him candy, but always books. This began his love of reading fiction and nonfiction, and this love has only grown with his writing.
After earning his B.A. from the University of Montevallo in central Alabama, Barr went on to pursue his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, focusing on Modern Literature and Film Studies. During graduate school, Barr first began writing nonfiction because his imagination kept being interrupted by memories. One of earliest pieces he wrote was about bats in his neighborhood and the first time he saw that most controversial of four-letter words. Or at least it was controversial back in 1965. After a face-slap from his father for asking about that word, he saw bats cavorting amongst the trees in his yard, and that all seemed to fit. Writing sporadically up until about seven or eight years ago, Barr has been collecting these memories and looking always for a way to write them.
Now teaching a variety of courses from Southern Film and Modern Novel to, naturally, Creative Nonfiction at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., Barr finds influence for his writing daily during his classes. His essays are published regularly throughout the year and have been featured at such publications like South Writ Large, Belle Reve Literary Journal, The Museum of Americana, Blue Lyra Review, Steel Toe Review, Red Truck Review, and The Bitter Southerner. In 2015, his essay “A Big-Ass Pot of Blended Soup” was nominated by Red Truck Review for the Best of the Net Award.
In 2016, Red Dirt Press published Barr’s first essay collection titled Don’t Date Baptists and Other Warnings from my Alabama Mother. Featuring Barr’s hometown, Don’t Date Baptists explores Barr’s memories of Bessemer and its place in the Southern Gothic tradition characteristic of many small, rural southern towns, as well as the many strange characters that make their appearances and their homes in such a town.
In April 2017, Third Lung Press published the second edition of Don’t Date Baptists, complete with a new essay, a hand-drawn map of Bessemer (courtesy of Layla Barr), and photos of Barr’s family. The book is available from Amazon.com and BN.com, and local Greenville, SC, bookstores.