By M. Scott Morris
COLUMBUS – The people behind the words will take center stage during the 22nd annual Eudora Welty Writer’s Symposium.
The free event at the Mississippi University for Women will run from Thursday to Saturday, when writers will step out from behind their notebooks, typewriters and computers to tell stories behind the stories.
“We have several who are pretty big names this year,” said Kendall Dunkelberg, symposium director. “We are pleased with that.”
Best-selling novelist Connie Mae Fowler will deliver the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Nissan Auditorium of Parkinson Hall.
Fowler has published a memoir, “When Katie Wakes,” and six novels. Her latest novel is “How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly.”
Dunkelberg said all of the writers invited to the symposium have produced work that fits into this year’s theme, “’Never Think You’ve Seen the Last of Anything’: Of Optimists and Other Endangered Species.”
The theme was inspired by Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Optimist’s Daughter.”
“This year I was looking at optimism and its opposite,” Dunkelberg said. “It can be hard to maintain optimism.”
Tom Franklin, a University of Mississippi creative writer instructor, wrote “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” a critically heralded novel about two friends from a Mississippi town who are torn apart by circumstances and reunited by tragedy.
Beth Ann Fennelly, a poetry teacher at Ole Miss, will read selections from her collection, “Unmentionables,” which Booklist called “insouciant, sexy, funny, and dead-on.”
Ellis Anderson tells a nonfiction story of resilience in “Under Surge, Under Siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina.”
“It’s a story about facing obstacles,” Dunkelberg said.
Other featured writers are:
• Wayne Caldwell, author of “Cataloochee” and “Requiem by Fire.”
• Shirlette Ammons, author of “Matching Skin.”
• Lorraine López, who wrote the short story collection, “The Homicide Survivors Picnic.”
• Barb Johnson, a short story writer who penned “More of This World or Maybe Another.”
• Poet Mitchell L.H. Douglas will read from “Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem.”
• Becky Hagenston will read from her book of short fiction, “Strange Weather.”
• Steve Yates will read from his debut novel, “Morkan’s Quarry.”
• Poet Sean Hill will read from his collection, “Blood Ties & Brown Liquor.”
In addition to readings, all of the writers will gather for a round-table discussion on Friday. They’ll talk about the symposium’s theme, and answer questions from the audience.
“Most of the authors will be around throughout the whole symposium,” Dunkelberg said. “There’s a lot of time to just go up and ask a question and talk to the author in person, which is nice. It’s a great opportunity to be exposed to different writers.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. SCOTT MORRIS / NEMS Daily Journal