October 7, 2017 9:45:11 PM
Novelist Daniel Wallace returns as the keynote speaker at the 29th annual Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium, Oct. 19-21, reading from his new novel, "Extraordinary Adventures."
Wallace is known for his bestselling novel "Big Fish," which was adapted as a hit movie and a Broadway musical. In it Wallace firmly established himself as the master of the tall tale.
In Wallace's sixth novel, "Extraordinary Adventures," unassuming Edsel Bronfman of Birmingham, Alabama, wins a weekend getaway to Destin, Florida, but must bring along a wife or girlfriend to claim his prize. Having neither, he sets out to find someone, which leads to extraordinary adventures that the New York Times declares are "as refreshing and original as his earlier books" and Garden and Gun calls "a rollicking crash course in loving -- and in living a little."
All symposium sessions will be held in Poindexter Hall at Mississippi University for Women and are free and open to the public. Wallace will appear at the keynote session Thursday, Oct. 19 beginning at 7:30 p.m. A reception and book signing with all symposium authors will follow.
Wallace's novel with its theme of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary is a fitting starting point for this year's symposium theme, "'So the incident became a story': Tales and Truths Around the South," which is inspired by Eudora Welty's story "The Hitch-Hikers" from her collection, "A Curtain of Green."
Oct. 20, 9 a.m.-noon
On Oct. 20, Mississippi poet laureate Beth Ann Fennelly returns to the symposium with her new collection, "Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-memoirs." Ranging in length from a sentence to a few pages, these essays take on a wide range of subjects from marriage, to a kiss in a swimming pool, to parenthood and to writing.
The W's own Michael Farris Smith will read from his second novel, "Desperation Road," the story of a man and a woman who meet on a dark road in McComb, one holding a gun and both on the run.
Juyanne James tells tales of her native South Louisiana in her debut collection, "The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories," which The New Orleans Review has praised as "immersed in rich, lush Southern settings, rural and urban."
Poet Rodney Jones wraps up the morning session with his latest collection, "Village Prodigies," a novel in verse that recounts the stories of Cold Springs, Ala. Jones, a native Alabamian, is the author of 11 books of poetry including "Elegy for the Southern Drawl" and "Salvations Blues."
Afternoon session, Oct. 20
The afternoon session from 1:30-4 p.m. begins with James E. Cherry, whose novel "Edge of the Wind" deals with mental illness, race relations and an active shooter at the local community college in a small west Tennessee town.
Jacqueline Allen Trimble's debut collection of poetry, "American Happiness," is grounded in her experiences growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, as the daughter of a civil rights activist, as one of the first students to integrate her elementary school, and later as associate professor of English at Alabama State University.
Mary Miller, who teaches in The W's low-residency MFA program, will read from her most recent story collection, "Always Happy Hour." Publisher's Weekly writes, "Miller's collection feels so true because it never glosses over the desperate or unflattering portrayals of its narrators, but neither does it exploit their faults."
The afternoon closes with the winners of the Ephemera Prize for high school writing. Over 100 students from around the state participated in the contest, and five will be selected to read at the symposium.
Authors presenting from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 21 begin with Welty Prize-winning scholar Carter Dalton Lyon discussing "Sanctuaries in Segregation: the Story of the Jackson Church Visit Campaign," an important milestone in the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi's state capital, where a sustained campaign was mounted in 1963-64.
Catherine Pierce returns to the symposium with her third collection of poetry, "The Tornado is the World," winner of the 2016 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for poetry. Pierce is co-director of creative writing at Mississippi State University and a frequent symposium participant.
Steve Yates of the University Press of Mississippi will read from his latest novel, "The Legend of the Albino Farm." In this haunting gothic tale, Yates brings to life a ghost story from his native Ozarks.
Derrick Harriell brings his third book of poetry, "Stripper in Wonderland," which Memorious Magazine calls a collection that "explores music, religion, and racism while continuously twirling readers through past, present and future spaces."
The symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. For updates and more information, see the Symposium website muw.edu/welty.
Welty Gala, art exhibit
On Friday, Oct. 20, The W will present its annual Welty Gala fundraiser with author Jeffrey Toobin. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the Office of Development and Alumni, 662-329-7148.
On Thursday, Oct 19, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Summer Hall, the Department of Art will host an opening for the exhibit "Intersections of Gender and Place" with artists Amy Pleasant, Teresa Cole, Shawne Major, and Katrina Andry. For more information see the gallery website muw.edu/case/art/gallery.
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