Ala. Writers' Forum: Literary News March 2010
Author and educator Barry Hannah died at his home in Oxford, Miss., on March 1. He was 67. Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Mississippi, he published eight novels and four short story collections. His novels include Yonder Stands Your Orphan, High Lonesome, Bats Out of Hell, and Never Die. His novel Ray was written and set in Tuscaloosa, where Hannah helped bring the University of Alabama Creative Writing Program to national prominence during his tenure there.
Hannah was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his short story collection High Lonesome. His first novel, Geronimo Rex, won the William Faulkner Prize and was nominated for the National Book Award. Airships, his collection of short stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil War, and the modern South, won the Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award. Hannah also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award, a PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction, and a prestigious Award in Literature from the American Institute of Arts and Letters.
"He was the rarest of things: He truly was an original," writer Brad Watson told the Tuscaloosa News. "Whatever his many influences, he had entirely digested them; they came out Barry Hannah." Watson studied creative writing with Hannah at the University of Alabama.
The Alabama Writers' Forum offers its condolence to Hannah's family and friends.
Sena Jeter Naslund chats with students Lin Wang, Abby Melton, and Emma Roberts, fiction writers at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. (photo by Jamie Martin)
The Alabama Writers' Forum (AWF) hosted its sixteenth annual Alabama High School Literary Arts Awards and Scholarship Competition ceremony on March 10 at the Alabama State Capitol Auditorium. A diverse group of students from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, Briarwood Christian School, Mountain Brook, and Pelham High Schools attended the event to receive their awards for drama, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. The audience also included teachers, parents, guests, and AWF Board members. Best-selling novelist Sena Jeter Naslund gave the keynote address.
"I'm a writer because I love to read," said Naslund, a Birmingham native and program director of the Low-Residency MFA in Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. "Let me give you two words of advice: Take some of your free time to read books I'll call the classics." She cited Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolfe, William Faulkner, and others. "Read poets. I loved Walt Whitman because of his tremendous ego." She also recommended Robert Frost.
"Second, respond to your writing assignments with all of your heart and all of your imagination," she said. "Let your imagination take fire from the stimulation of your teacher. Beyond my family, I owe so much to my teachers-all of my teachers from first grade through college who encouraged me to write."
In conjunction with the awards ceremony, Gov. Bob Riley proclaimed March 10 as Young Alabama Writers' Day. Alabama State Council on the Arts Executive Director Al Head presented the governor's proclamation to the audience.
Gov. Riley's proclamation reads in part, "WHEREAS, the state of Alabama is known worldwide as fertile ground for rich literary talent, including such award-winning authors as Harper Lee, Albert Murray, Fannie Flagg, Rick Bragg, Rebecca Gilman and Sonia Sanchez, and...WHEREAS, the Alabama Writers' Forum believes that encouragement of young writers, their teachers and schools is of paramount importance to ensure the continuation of Alabama's outstanding literary tradition, essential to the cultural climate of the state: NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, do hereby proclaim March 10, 2010, as Young Alabama Writers' Day in the State of Alabama."
Each year the Forum recognizes young writers, grades 9-12, their teachers, and schools for their work in creative nonfiction, drama, fiction, and poetry. Scholarships are awarded to Alabama high school seniors for portfolios based on a literary genre. Noted writers in each field judge the submissions.
DéLana R.A. Dameron (photo courtesy of delanadameron.com)
On Friday, April 16, Alabama teachers from grades 6-12 are invited to spend the day with four authors who will appear at the 5th Annual Alabama Book Festival (ABF) in Montgomery to learn about creative writing techniques and strategies for their students.
Each year in conjunction with the statewide book event, the Alabama Writers' Forum (AWF) produces the Festival's education outreach program. The workshops are offered free of charge with generous funding from the Support the Arts Car Tag Fund and Vulcan Materials Company, as well as support from Troy University-Montgomery and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Poets Sean Hill (author of Blood Ties and Brown Liquor) and DéLana R.A. Dameron (author of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize-awarded How God Ends Us) will lead the morning poetry workshops. Irene Latham (author of the young adult novel Leaving Gees Bend) will give a reading at the noon hour, and fiction writer and blogger A.M. Garner (author of Undeniable Truths) will lead the afternoon workshop on "Writing for the New Media."
ABF also needs volunteers to help make the event a success. Volunteers must be at least sixteen years old and commit to a two-hour shift. In appreciation of their efforts, volunteers will receive a free festival t-shirt and the opportunity to earn a one-day admission ticket to Disney World or Disneyland, as part of Disney's 2010 Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program.
On April 17, 10 a.m-4 p.m., more than fifty authors, storytellers, publishers, illustrators, and performers will gather at Old Alabama Town in downtown Montgomery to celebrate reading, writing, and literature. The festival depends on volunteers to serve in a variety of roles, including escorting authors, assisting at book signings, helping with children's activities, and greeting visitors at the front gate.
Caitlin Varquez (photo by Julian Green)
On February 26, twenty-one Alabama high school students met at the Leila Barlow Theatre, Tullibody Fine Arts Center on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery to compete in the state final of the Poetry Out Loud competition. Youseff Biaz, a junior at Auburn High School took first place. Caitlin Varquez, a freshman at St. Bernard Preparatory School in Cullman, came in second place and won first place in the Original Poetry Competition. Winners receive cash awards for themselves and their schools. The Alabama Writers' Forum underwrites these awards.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson (photo courtesy of Rheta Grimsley Johnson)
Rheta Grimsley Johnson, a novelist and nationally syndicated columnist, received the 2010 Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing from The University of Alabama (UA) College of Communication and Information Sciences on March 9.
Johnson has received many of journalism's highest awards, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Distinguished Writing Award, the National Headliners Award, and the Ernie Pyle Award, and she was one of three finalists for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. She has written several books, including her most recent, Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming, an extended memoir.
Born in Colquitt, Ga., and raised in Montgomery, Johnson attended Lee High School and then Auburn University where she was the editor of The Auburn Plainsman. Her leadership won her the 1974-75 National Pacemaker Award.
The 2010 Montevallo Literary Festival (MLF) will be held on Friday, April 23, at the University of Montevallo. This friendly, relaxed festival is dedicated to bringing literary writers and readers together on a personal scale. This year's offerings will include readings, signings, and master-class workshops in poetry and fiction. Keynote readers and workshop leaders are Mitchell L.H. Douglas in poetry and Lorraine López in fiction. Other invited readers are Bryn Chancellor, William Cobb, Lynnell Edwards, Graeme Harper, Jennifer Horne, Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton, and Kevin Wilson. For more information, contact festival director Jim Murphy at 205-665-6420 or murphyj@....
The 2010 Slash Pine Poetry Festival, featuring more than forty national and regional poets and authors performing two days of readings, will be held April 23-24 at various venues in Tuscaloosa and Northport. Writers scheduled to participate in the event include Sue Brannan Walker, Jeanie Thompson, Hank Lazer, Dave Brinks, Alexis Orgera, Cindy Arrieu-King, Adam Clay, Chad Sweeney, Michael Mejia, and many others. .
The festival highlights the public and democratic nature of creative work, refusing to privilege one form or aesthetic over another, and presenting diverse voices in non-traditional, communally accessible spaces.
Slash Pine Press has also announced its second call for chapbook-length manuscripts of poetry or mixed-genre (prose poetry, micro-essays mixed with poems, etc.). The press is looking for innovative work, no longer than twenty-four pages. Submission period is March 1-May 1.
"We are not looking at 'traditional' fiction at this time," said Slash Pine editor Joseph Wood. "Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our mission and submission procedures. If our aesthetic and philosophical ambitions line up with yours, please send us the best work you've got."
The American writer and historian Wallace Stegner once said, "No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, and monuments." Place often plays a substantial role in Southern literature; place gives substance to characters, and writers give substance to place. The 13th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium (AWS): Literature on Location-The Muse of Place showcases a slate of writers, poets, artists, and musicians who recognize that place and space and their sense of belonging are intertwined with the fabric of their literature. Writers featured this year include Ace Atkins, whose childhood in San Francisco sends him back there for his latest work Devil's Garden; Ralph Eubanks, whose House at the End of the Road describes his biracial family's haven from a hostile world in South Alabama; and Birmingham native Warren St. John, who focuses on immigrants to Clarkston, Ga., and their amazing transformation in this small town. Linking to the Alabama Tourism theme "The Year of Small Towns and Downtowns," this year's symposium also pays homage to the fiftieth anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
The symposium format involves two days of author readings, panel discussions, and literary entertainment, all facilitated by some of our state's finest literary scholars. The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer and the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama's Distinguished Literary Scholar will be presented at the Friday awards luncheon. In addition to regional, national, and international writers, Alabama artists and musicians and the renowned community theatre production of To Kill a Mockingbird will again figure prominently in rounding out the symposium. The program concludes with the Saturday brunch keynote address by and author whose work is influenced by place and time.
JL King (photo courtesy of JL King Publishing)
New York Times best-selling author JL King will host a professional development writers seminar on April 10 at The Virginia Samford Theatre in Birmingham. King will conduct two separate sessions, 9 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m. The "How to Become a Best-Selling Author" seminar is an interactive session that features successful writers, noted moderators, and international conference speakers to offer book publishing secrets.
King will share information on self-publishing concepts, book promotion strategies, public relations management, brand development processes, market tactics, and more.
Tickets are $150 general admission, $50 for students. Vendors are also welcome. For more information, contact Melanie Mitchell at 404-403-2315 or missmelaniemitchell@...
The Alabama State Poetry Society is accepting submissions for the annual John and Miriam Morris Memorial Chapbook Competition. The winner receives $100 and fifty copies of his/her winning chapbook. Deadline is May 31.
Poems may be previously published if the poet retains all rights. Send twenty to twenty-four total pages of poetry with two title pages: one with author identification, and one with no author identification, with a $15 reading fee payable to New Dawn Unlimited, Inc. to Jerri Hardesty, ASPS 2010 Morris Memorial Chapbook Competition, 1830 Marvel Road, Brierfield, AL 35035.
AlleyCat (photo courtesy of Amanda Scott)
Amanda "AlleyCat" Scott represented the Bamaslam Montevallo Poetry Slam team and the State of Alabama at the Women of the World International Poetry Slam (WOW) in Columbus, Ohio, March 10-13. AlleyCat entered the finals 4.5 points under WOW winner Eboni Hogan of Brooklyn, N.Y.
"This was the third year this event was held, and we were pleased to have Scott, with her bold and sensual style, speak for us," said Jerri Buckingham Hardesty of the Bamaslam team.
The Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) is currently accepting applications for its 2010 SUPER Institutes and Workshops. Since 1991, AHF has taken a leading role in the advancement of Alabama education with the SUPER (School and University Partners for Educational Renewal) Teacher Program. This program provides graduate-level, content-rich, professional development of the highest quality to outstanding 4th-12th grade public and private school teachers, school librarians, and administrators who wish to expand and deepen their knowledge of a particular subject or theme within the humanities.
The aim of SUPER is to increase participants' subject knowledge and, in turn, their confidence, enthusiasm, and effectiveness as educators. The content in these programs directly addresses the Courses of Study as mandated by the Alabama State Department of Education. Upon completion of a SUPER program, participants receive a certificate documenting hours earned toward continuing education units (CEUs) for submission within their own districts.
The 2010 application deadline is April 1. To apply to SUPER, visit ahf.net or contact Thomas Bryant, AHF Director of Programs and SUPER Manager, at 205-558-3997.
Gerri Combs, executive director of South Arts (formerly Southern Arts Federation), unveiled the organization's new identity and strategic plan during a webcast on March 9.
Reflecting South Arts' vision of commu
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