Adele Elliott: Penmanship

April 17, 2010 8:20:00 PM

Adele Elliott - adeleelliott@bellsouth.net

 

Everyone imagines that they can write. We have often heard someone say, "I have a book in me." Seldom does that book ever emerge. 

 

And why shouldn''t we write? Southerners, especially, believe that literary greatness is only a few words (OK, a few million words) away. After all, literature is our legacy. 

 

But, to quote my friend and guru, J.D., "Writers, write." How many of us really do that? 

 

Somehow, the great American novel remains buried in a jumble of shopping lists and work worries. Brilliance gets stuck in a mental traffic jam, never making the journey from brain to finger tips to keyboard. 

 

This is why we have such respect for people who actually put a story on paper. Frequently, even for many of those whose tales develop into an actual manuscript, that text remains unread, unpublished. 

 

Some writers not only see their works in print, but also win awards for their effort. We have a chance to meet some of these authors at Mississippi University for Women April 22-24. 

 

The Southern Literary Festival will be hosted by the English Department at MUW. This festival was founded in 1937 to promote Southern literature. There will be readings and signings by creative writers of every genre, all whom are the crème de la crème. 

 

One highlight of the festival will be prize-winning students presenting their work in a public forum. These playwrights, poets, essayists and fiction writers were judged the best out of submissions from 20 universities. No competition there, I''m sure. 

 

Professor Kendall Dunkelberg, along with the rest of the English Department, has organized three days of readings, lectures and receptions. The public is invited. Times and locations may be found on the MUW Web site, www.muw.edu/SLF.php. 

 

 

 

No Dead Authors 

 

Some may not be able to wait for the Southern Literary Festival to hear some lovely poetry being read by the author. You still have a chance to meet Catherine Pierce today at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 2 p.m. 

 

Her list of publications and prizes include everything from "Slate" to "The Paris Review." Catherine''s poems are charmingly crafted and written about quirky subjects. 

 

As always, No Dead Authors, sponsored by the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. 

 

This will also be your last time to visit the birthplace of Tennessee Williams for a very long time. Now that Pilgrimage is over, the historic home will close for renovations. The Welcome Center will take up residence across the street, in the old Elk''s Lodge (you may know it as J. Broussard''s previous location). 

 

Rubbing elbows with living writers can be quite inspirational. The organizers of the Southern Literary Festival and No Dead Authors know this. Just meeting real authors and hearing them read may shake up our brain''s clutter and the chaos that creates writer''s block. The snacks can''t hurt, either.

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.