Anthony Grooms (b. 1955)
Anthony "Tony" M. Grooms is a writer and arts administrator who is well known in the Atlanta area for his work in organizing arts events and for his support and encouragement of other writers.
Born January 15, 1955, Grooms was raised and educated in rural Louisa County, Virginia, 120 miles south of Washington, D.C. The eldest of six children, he grew up among an extended African American family that also claimed Native American and European heritage.
His parents—Robert E. Grooms, a refrigeration mechanic, and Dellaphine Scott, a textile worker and housewife—encouraged his education. In 1967, as a preface to the forced racial integration of Virginia's public school system, his parents enrolled him in the Freedom of Choice plan that brought about limited integration of the white public schools. Though he notes that many of his attitudes about race and class in the United States were formed before 1967, the school integration experience was, nonetheless, a landmark event in his life, contributing to a perspective that is evident in many of his writings.
Grooms graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1978 with a B.A. degree in theatre and speech. His focus was playwriting, and student theater groups produced several of his plays. Later he studied at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he developed a professional interest in creative writing and graduated in 1984 with an M.F.A. degree in English. After graduate school, he married Pamela B. Jackson, an administrative judge, and moved to Atlanta in 1988 to teach, where he found a subject for his writings in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. In 1994 Grooms cofounded the Georgia Writers Association with writer Geri Taran and literary agent Susan L. Graham.
Grooms is the author of a collection of poetry, Ice Poems (1988); a collection of stories, Trouble No More (1995), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 1996; and a novel, Bombingham (2001), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2002. (The Lillian Smith Book Award is named for Georgia writer Lillian Smith and administered by the Southern Regional Council.) His stories and poems also have been published in Callaloo, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, George Washington Review, and other literary journals. He is the recipient of the Sokolov Scholarship from the Breadloaf Writing Conference, the Lamar lectureship from Wesleyan College, and an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Reviewing Trouble No More for MELUS, a critical journal of multiethnic literature, Diptiranjan Pattanaik writes that Grooms demonstrates "the insider's profound knowledge of the history and struggles of African Americans, while consistently managing to circumscribe his breadth of understanding with a tender story-telling art."
Though the subject matter of his work varies, Grooms's most notable writing focuses on characters struggling with the uncertainty of the civil rights movement. His novel, Bombingham, takes place in Birmingham in 1963, during the height of the tumult.