2021 Symposium Schedule Updates

We are very pleased to announce that ten of this year's symposium authors, including keynote author W. Ralph Eubanks, will appear in person;  two will join us remotely via Zoom. All Symposium panels can be attended live and in-person in Rent Auditorium of Whtifield Hall. Masks will be required indoors, and social distancing will be maintained. Groups of up to four people who come together may sit together.  

We ask that those attending in person RSVP using our online form. All panels will also be live streamed on our Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium group on Facebook for those who are unable to attend in person.

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Eubanks' "A Place Like Mississippi" to be featured at the 2021 Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium

The Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium returns to Mississippi University for Women October 21-23, featuring author, scholar, editor, and essayist W. Ralph Eubanks, whose most recent book, A Place Like Mississippi. weaves travelogue, literary history, and memoir into an evocative portrayal of our state and its literary landscape. Eubanks is the past director of publishing for the Library of Congress and former editor of Virginia Quarterly Review. His many publishing credits include articles and essays in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and WIRED!, among many others, and his previous book publications include “Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi's Dark Past” and “The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South .”

This year’s symposium theme “‘All They Saw Was at the Point of Coming Together’: A Confluence of Southern Writers” anticipages a return to an in-person symposium after last year’s first-ever all-virtual event. Symposium panels are planned to be held in Rent Auditorium to allow for social distancing. We also plan to live-stream the symposium on Facebook for those who are not able to attend in person or in the event of renewed COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.

This year’s symposium also features four returning writers Josh Russell and Becky Hagenston with new story collections, King of the Animals and The Age of Discovery respectively, as well as poets Ashley M. Jones and Kendra Allen with their collections Reparations Now! and The Collection Plate. Writers who are new to the symposium will include novelists Annette Saunook Clapsaddle with Even As We Breathe, Lee Durkee with The Last Taxi Driver, and Angela Jackson-Brown with When Stars Rain Down. Other poets include former Louisiana poet laureate Jack Bedell with his collection Color All Maps New, as well as Joshua Nguyen and Thomas B. Richardson, who is an MSMS faculty member and W MFA alumnus, with their debut collections Come Clean and How to Read.

The Eudora Welty Prize will also be awarded for a book on Women’s Studies, Southern Studies, or Literary Studies, with a reading by the prize-winning author. Along with the published authors, The W will welcome five high school students, winners of the Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize for fiction, essay or poetry. The symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. All events are free and open to the public.

Welty Symposium 2020 Concludes

We'd like to thank everyone who made the 32nd Annual Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium a success, especially our authors, who all handled the challenges of giving a reading to their laptops, pets, and Zoom incredibly well, and our audience in Zoom and on Facebook. We had 30-40 people in Zoom and anywhere from 150-250 people watching live on Facebook for each session. Though there's no way to tell how many Facebook viewers watched from beginning to end or how many tuned in briefly to check out the video, some may have returned later, as our numbers continue to grow.

Videos of the Friday and Saturday panels are archived in our Facebook group. We hope that individuals and classes who missed the Symposium will find this a valuable resource, and we hope to be able to continue live-streaming the Symposium when we return as an in-person event. Next year's dates will be October 21-23, 2021, when we hope to be back in Poindexter Hall. We've learned, though, that no matter what the world throws at us, whenever we can bring great Southern writers and readers together, magic happens. Thanks again to all who joined us for our first ever virtual symposium. See you next year!

Natasha Trethewey to Headline 32nd Annual Symposium

U.S. and Mississippi poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey will be the keynote author at the 32nd Annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, Oct. 22-24, 2020. The world-renowned poet comes to the symposium with her first memoir, “Memorial Drive,” which recounts her early life with her mother and her abusive stepfather that would ultimately lead to her mother’s murder. Kiese Laymon, writing for the New York Times, acknowledges that “the memoir is not the hardest book I have ever read,” but it is “the hardest I could imagine writing.” He argues that “‘Memorial Drive’ forces the reader to think about how the sublime Southern conjurers of words, spaces, sounds and patterns protect themselves from trauma when trauma may be, in part, what nudged them down the dusty road to poetic mastery.”

As such, Trethewey’s memoir serves as a fitting launching point for this year’s symposium theme, “‘Walking Along in the Changing-Time” Southern Writers in Uncertain Times,” which is inspired by Welty’s story “The Wide Net.” Due to travel concerns and COVID-19, the keynote session, including Trethewey’s reading, will be streamed live on October 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Other writers who will present at the symposium include: Beth Kander (Original Syn Trilogy), Randall Horton ({#289-128}: Poems), Juyanne James (Table Scraps and Other Essays), Sandra Meek (Still), Catherine Pierce (Danger Days), Katy Simpson Smith (The Everlasting), Michael Farris Smith (Blackwood), M. O. Walsh (The Big Door Prize), and Claude Wilkinson (World Without End). At least one other panel will be virtual and some may be in person with a limited audience if public health conditions allow. All panels will also be live streamed. 

Since there will be no live Welty Gala this year, the symposium schedule will also be adjusted to include sessions on Friday Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. till 12 p.m., 1:30-3:30 p.m., and 7:00-9:00 p.m. CST and Saturday Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. till 12 p.m.

All times are subject to change. Please see www.muw.edu/welty for more details on the program and the link to watch our live-streamed events.

Eudora Welty Series 2020 Dates — October 22-24

This year's Eudora Welty Series will be held on October 22-24, 2020. Though there is much we can't predict about the Symposium, Gala, and Art Exhibits this year, we are moving forward with plans to bring writers to campus. Any plans will involve live-streaming the event either from campus or if necessary from each author's location. Much will depend on the how things develop with COVID-19. We will do our best to protect the health of our authors and our audience members and to follow state, local, and national guidelins. As always, we are very grateful to the Robert M. Hearin Foundation for their support of the series.