By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
COLUMBUS – The role of international writers in Southern literature and the influence of other cultures on Southern writers is the focus of this year’s Eudora Welty Symposium at the Mississippi University for Women.
Writers from across the globe and right next door will come together to talk about their work at this year’s event, which is free.
“We’re going all around the world,” said MUW’s Kendall Dunkelberg. “But since all of our writers are living and writing in the South, some actually write about that experience and will probably include what it means to be an international writer in the South.”
The symposium begins tonight with a keynote session featuring author Judith Oriz Cofer, who has written 12 books of essays, fiction, young adult fiction and poetry. The Puerto Rico native now lives in Georgia.
Friday’s events include readings by Indian writer Latha Viswanathan, Nigerian-born novelist Sefi Atta and Egyptian-born writer Pauline Kaldas, Alabama poet Randall Horton, New Jersey native Michael Kardos and Oxford-based poet Ann Fisher-Wirth.
Saturday’s readings include writers such as Chinese-born John Jianqing Zheng, MUW alumna Minrose Gwin, and Michael F. Smith, a Mississippian who has lived in France and Switzerland.
Round-table discussions will feature the writers on each day.
“There’s a chemistry that develops with each group, where they get to talking with one another and they appreciate being together,” Dunkelberg said.
Each of the authors will have a chance to sign books and meet audience members, and their books will be on sale throughout the symposium.
“We always ask, ‘Will this symposium make you more likely to read a book?’ And the answer is always yes,” Dunkelberg said. “There’s nothing like coming out and seeing an author in person and getting some insight into how they wrote the book or a few tidbits to help understand the book. And if you’re a writer, there’s nothing more inspiring than to hear other writers talk about the process.”
b>Between the Lines
What: Mississippi University for Women
Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium
Where: MUW campus
Info and full schedule: muw.edu/welty or
The Welty Gala welcomes “The Perfect Storm” author Sebastian Junger, and the event is at 7 p.m. Friday at the Hogarth Dining Center. For more information or to buy tickets, call (662) 329-7148.