Program of the 2010 Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium

The symposium is scheduled for October 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, 2010. The theme for this year's symposium is "Never Think You've Seen the Last of Anything": Of Optimists and Other Endangered Species.

The theme of this year's Symposium is inspired by Eudora Welty's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Optimist's Daughter. This year's authors are listed below. Don't forget that we will be selling books at Welty Book Table during the symposium. We often have books early for those who want to read ahead. Contact the College of Arts and Sciences office for more information. All events are free and open to the public, thanks to a generous grant from The Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. Funding is also provided by the Welty Series Endowment and MUW Foundation.


Connie May Fowler
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly

“Fowler lends magic and voice to the singular Florida landscape,” writes Booklist of her most recent novel, “…she blurs the line between the written and the writer as we witness Clarissa’s brave discovery that the real truth is often the most risky tale to tell.” Fowler has also published the memoir When Katie Wakes and five other novels, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue, River of Hidden Dreams, Sugar Cage, and Before Women Had Wings, which was made into an Oprah Winfrey Presents television movie.


Photo courtesy: ©



Shirlette Ammons
Matching Skin

Ammons' latest book includes the 5-song CD John Anonymous, on which she collaborates with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and other artists. Indy Week praises her efforts, noting "Her ability to move between disciplines and venues is rare, her hunger to try new things, intense." She has published one previous book of poetry The Stumphole Aunthology of Backwoods Blood and plays bass and sings vocals with her soul, funk, and hip-hop band Mosadi.



Ellis Anderson
Under Surge, Under Siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina

Anderson chronicles the trauma of the storm and its immediate aftermath, as well as the challenges that faced the city as it regrouped in order to rebuild. Anderson is an active blogger, and her essays and articles have appeared in Salon, The Sun Herald, and South Mississippi Living. She is also a jewelry artist and owner of the Quarter Moon Gallery in Ocean Springs. As a community activist, Ms. Anderson is a co-founder of Coastal Community Watch, and has become a spokesperson for the Bay St. Louis area, featured in recent interviews on NPR's Morning Edition with Scott Simon and Tom Sumner's Worldwide Webcast on Flint Talk Radio.



Wayne Caldwell
Cataloochee and Requiem by Fire

North Carolina native, Caldwell, tells of the changes and difficult choices forced on a community that existed on land destined to become part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Publisher's Weekly praises Caldwell's fiction for its "rich historical background" and "unhurried story about resiliency and the unifying power of community."



Photo: David Flores

Mitchell Douglas
Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem

Playing on the conventions of vinyl music albums in this collection that portrays the life and times of soul music legend Donny Hathaway, Douglas has collected his poems on two "sides," one telling of Hathaway's rise to fame and the flipside portraying the struggles in his career. Both include "alternate takes" of original poems that introduce new information and competing interpretations of the events in this musical odyssey.



Beth Ann Fennelly

Booklist has described Fennelly's latest collection as "Insouciant, sexy, funny, and dead-on," adding, "Fennelly crafts perfectly metered lines and quick-turn stanzas steeped in the blues and rock and roll in which she riffs on sights, sounds, and moments at once ordinary and suffused with implication." The recipient of numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Award, Fennelly teaches poetry at the University of Mississippi and has also published the collections Tender Hooks, Open House, and Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother.



Tom Franklin
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

This newly released novel brings us the story of two friends from a small Mississippi town, who are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy. Washington Post Book World calls it "Beautifully written and potent" and USA Today proclaims it "Another literary knockout." Franklin has also published Smonk, Hell at the Breach, and Poachers: Stories. He is an Alabama native who currently teaches creative writing at the University of Mississippi.



Becky Hagenston
Strange Weather

Hagenston returns to the Symposium with a reading from her latest book of short fiction, which won the 2009 Spokane Prize. A Starkville resident and Associate Professor of English at Mississippi State University, Hagenston has also published the story collection, A Gram of Mars, and her work has appeared widely in magazines, been performed as part of Stories on Stage at the Sacramento Poetry Center, and selected for an O' Henry prize, a Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award, and many other prizes.



Sean Hill
Blood Ties & Brown Liquor

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has called Hill's debut collection "an innovative collection of bluesy, meditative poems that is certain to mark Hill's emergence as a major new voice in American poetry." In a call and response across six generations of a family whose fictional forefather Silas Wright was born in 1907, Hill offers up a portrait of the complex and tenacious black community of Milledgeville, Georgia.



Barb Johnson
More of This World or Maybe Another

Johnson's recent collection of short stories portrays the lives of residents of a Mid-City New Orleans neighborhood who all frequent the Bubble Laundromat, where their stories at times intertwine. It has been dubbed "an insightful literary gem" by Booklist, and she is the recipient of an A Room of Her Own Foundation Freedom Award, which has allowed her to quit her day job as a carpenter and work on a new novel.



Lorraine López
Homicide Survivors Picnic

These ten stories, set in the South and portraying characters that live on the edge, "make an impact, bringing the reader face-to-face with situations that are realistic and gritty but never hopeless or pitiful," writes Alex Myers for New Pages Book Reviews. López teaches at Vanderbilt University. She is one of five finalists for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner award and is a previous recipient of the International Latino Book Award and many other awards for her publications, which include Call Me Henri, The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, and Soy La Avon Lady and Other Stories.



Steve Yates
Morkan’s Quarry

Set in Civil-War-era Missouri, Yates' debut novel explores the divided loyalties and impossible choices faced by two generations of Morkans as they try to hang onto the family legacy and are forced to contend with both Union and Confederate forces who battle for control of the Ozark hills and the resources at the quarry. A native of Springfield, Missouri, Yates has lived for many years in Flowood, Mississippi, where he is Marketing Director for the University Press of Mississippi.