Program of the 1998 Welty Symposium
The 1998 Symposium, to be held October 1-3, celebrates a decade of successful programs. This year's theme is "The Unbroken Circle: Celebrating a Decade of Emerging Southern Writers." The program features seven writers, five of whom have appeared at previous symposia when they had published a single work or a few works and who have continued to publish. The five returning writers are Dennis Covington, Nanci Kincaid, Jerry Ward, Steve Yarbrough, and Ellen Douglas. Two writers, John Dufresne and Ashley Warlick, will make their first symposium appearance. The eighth speaker is Jim Neilson, winner of the 1998 Eudora Welty Prize.
Dennis Covington is the author of Lizard, Salvation on Sand Mountain, and Lasso the Moon, along with numerous articles and stories for magazines. Lizard won the eighth annual Delacorte Press Prize for a first Young Adult Novel and has been translated into seven languages; Covington's dramatic adaptation of the novel was staged as part of the Arts Festival at the 1996 Olympics and also won the Barrie Stavis Award for the best new play of 1996. His non-fiction Salvation on Sand Mountain won the Rea Prize from the Boston Book Review for the best non-fiction book of 1995. Dennis and his wife, novelist Vicki Covington, have recently completed a memoir of their marriage to be published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux in March 1999. Native Alabamians, the Covingtons live in Birmingham.
Ellen Douglas is Josephine Haxton, native Mississippian now living in Jackson. She has published six highly acclaimed novels: A Family's Affairs, Where the Dreams Cross, Apostles of Light, The Rock Cried Out, A Lifetime Burning, and Can't Quite You, Baby. She has also published Black Cloud, White Cloud (two novellas and two stories) as well as The Magic Carpet, a fairy tale collection illustrated by Mississippi artist Walter Anderson. Her latest work, published in September 1998, is the non-fiction Truth: Four Stories I am Finally Old Enough To Tell. Ms. Haxton has been writer in residence and creative writing professor at a number of schools, including Millsaps College, where she held a Eudora Welty professorship.
John Dufresne grew up in Massachusetts, received his MFA from the University of Arkansas, has taught in Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida International University, and so is a southerner by acclimation. His works include The Way That Water Enters Stone, Louisiana Power and Light, and Love Warps the Mind a Little;he is one of thirteen authors of a mystery novel, Naked Came the Manatee.
Nanci Kincaid, born and raised in Florida, has lived in many southern states, and now lives in Tucson, Arizona; her works include a short story collection, Pretending the Bed is a Raft, and two novels, Crossing Blood and Balls.
Jim Nielson was awarded the 1998 Eudora Welty Prize for his book Warring Fictions, a scholarly work on the critical reception of Vietnam War novels in American literary culture.
Jerry Ward is a poet, critic, editor, and Lawrence Durgin professor of literature at Tougaloo College. He is currently working on a poetry colletion, Jazz South. Other works are Redefining Black Literary History, Black Southern Voices, and Trouble the water: 250 Years of African American Poetry. He is a scholar of the works of Ishmael Reed and Richard Wright.
Ashley Warlick published her novel, The Distance from the Heart of Things, at age twenty-three and became the youngest recipient ever of Houghton-Mifflin's prestigious Literary Fellowship. She is a native North Carolinian and now lives in Virginia.
Steve Yarbrough is a native of the Mississippi Delta, now an English professor and writer at California State University at Fresno. His short-story collections are Family Men, Mississippi History, and Veneer; a novel, The Oxygen Man, is forthcoming in spring, 1999. His awards include the 1988 Charles Angoff Award for the short story "Sara," the 1994 Lawrence Foundation Award for "Stay-Gone Days," and the 1998 Pushcart Prize Award for the essay "Preacher."
Sessions are on Thursday evening at 7:30 and on Friday and Saturday mornings from 8:00 until noon. The program is partially funded through the Mississippi Humanities Council. The public is cordially invited; there is no charge. A complete schedule of the symposium is available online. For further information, contact Ginger Hitt.