Ala. Writers' Forum News April 2010
The Alabama Book Festival, slated for April 17 at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery, has extended the event an extra hour to accommodate two big names in the literary world: Pearl Cleage and Daniel Wallace.
Cleage is an author and playwright who catapulted to fame when her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, became an Oprah Book Club selection in 1998 and was listed on the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks. Her latest play, The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at the Celebration of Their First 100 Years, opens at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in September.
Wallace's first novel, Big Fish, also achieved enormous success upon publication in 1998. It was turned into a major motion picture, directed by Tim Burton and starring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, and Jessica Lange. It was shot entirely in Alabama, mostly in Montgomery and Wetumpka.
Both authors will speak, meet fans, and sign books at the Festival on Saturday afternoon. Cleage will be speak 3:30-4:30 p.m., while Wallace will take the stage 4-5 p.m.
Other authors attending the festival include Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg, 2010 Harper Lee Award recipient Carolyn Haines, and Alabama Poet Laureate Sue Brannan Walker.
The 2010 Montevallo Literary Festival (MLF) will celebrate its eighth year on Friday, April 23, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. at the University of Montevallo. This year's festival kicks off with master-class workshops in poetry and fiction, followed by a number of readings and book signings throughout the day. Keynote readers and master-class leaders are Mitchell L.H. Douglas in poetry and Lorraine López in fiction. Other readers include Bryn Chancellor, Bill Cobb, Lynnell Edwards, Graeme Harper, Jennifer Horne, Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton, and Kevin Wilson.
A dinner with live music will cap off the event.
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 Hank Lazer, Dave Brinks, Alexis Orgera, Cindy Arrieu-King, Adam Clay, Chad Sweeney, Michael Mejia, Sue Brannan Walker, Jeanie Thompson, 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.
And remember, deadline for the Slash Pine Press chapbook competition is May 1.
Register today for April 29-May 1 to attend the Alabama Writers Symposium (AWS), Alabama's premier event for those who love to read. 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. From the semi-fictional to the nonfictional, place often plays a substantial role in Southern literature; place gives substance to characters, and writers give substance to place.
Writers featured this year include Ace Atkins, whose childhood in San Francisco sends him back there for his 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, Georgia, and their amazing transformation in this small town; and Rheta Grimsley Johnson, recently awarded the prestigious Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences. 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 renowned community theatre production of Lee's classic tale will again figure prominently in rounding out the symposium.
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 program concludes with the Saturday brunch keynote address by Ace Atkins.
AWS offers congratulations to Carolyn Haines, recipient of the 2010 Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer of the Year, and Ralph Voss, winner of the 2010 Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama's Distinguished Literary Scholar. Both awards will be presented Friday at the Awards Luncheon.
This April, the Academy of American Poets is seeking submissions to an ongoing multimedia-mapping project, Poem on the Range. Poetry-lovers can contribute to the map by sharing videos or photos from a poetic pilgrimage, literary landmarks, or by capturing the experience of poetry in place on camera while a poem is read on location. Footage can be geotagged and posted to the Academy's Poem on the Range Flickr Group, the Poem on the Range Google Map, or e-mailed to OntheRange@.... Submissions received by April 21 will be considered for a feature on Poets.org and will be entered to receive a selection of poetry books.
The Academy also is calling on people to take time for poetry on April 29, Poem in Your Pocket Day. The underlying concept of the nationwide celebration is simple: pick a poem, pocket it, carry it, and share it at workplaces, schools, libraries, community centers, and other public spaces. The Academy encourages people to celebrate by organizing readings, forming street teams to pass out poems, circulating poetry via e-mail or handheld devices, or by tearing and sharing verses from the Poem in Your Pocket anthology.
Poets.org, the Web site of the Academy, is unveiling Poem Flow, a new iPhone app that offers an innovative way to read great works of poetry by flowing a poem, line by line, across the screen of a handheld device. The app features a new poem each day, along with contextual information on the poet and poem. When the device is held in "Portrait" mode, poems appear in their traditional format; turned to "Landscape," the poem moves seamlessly across the screen. The free version of Poem Flow includes twenty days of poems to flow, and the full version of the app provides subscribers with one year of poems.
"We make a dwelling in the evening air, / In which being there together is enough." These lines from Wallace Stevens' poem "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour" curve between a star-filled sky and the kaleidoscopic designs featured on the 2010 National Poetry Month Poster. The award-winning illustrator and designer Marian Bantjes designed the poster, which is available free of charge, while supplies last, to teachers and librarians by online request, and the poster can be downloaded for personal use.
The Academy's Spring Books List features 140 new and recently published titles from independent and commercial presses. Highlights include NOX, Anne Carson; The Apple Trees at Olema, Robert Hass; The Living Fire, Edward Hirsch; Where I Live, Maxine Kumin; Other Flowers, James Schuyler; White Egrets, Derek Walcott; new books by Ai, Charles Bernstein, Terrance Hayes, Alex Lemon, Richard O. Moore, C. K. Williams, and others.
National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 and is now the largest literary celebration in the world. National Poetry Month brings together schools, libraries, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, and poets to highlight poetry and its vital role in American culture.
Hester Bass (photo by S&S Photography)
Hester Bass of Huntsville recently received the Orbis Pictus Award, given by the National Council of Teachers of English, for her book, The Secret World of Walter Anderson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis and published by Candlewick Press in 2009. With only two national awards for children's non-fiction given annually, the award is an inspiring acknowledgement for this first children's picture book about Mississippi artist Walter Anderson.
The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children is an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The award's name commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus-The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.
Sonny Brewer (photo by John Luke Brewer)
"To be in company with other writers, to learn from each other, and to give something back to people who also want to write, in this role as writer-in-residence at Faulkner State, is an honor and a privilege," Brewer told BaldwinCountyNow.com. "It's exploring this whole world of writing and getting to share with all who have an interest, like that student who just walked past my door, that makes this such a wonderful opportunity."
Brewer's novels include The Poet of Tolstoy Park, A Sound Like Thunder, Cormac-The Tale of a Dog Gone Missing, and The Widow and the Tree. He is editor of the Blue Moon Café short fiction anthology series and founder of Over the Transom Bookstore and the Southern Writers Reading annual literary conference.
As part of its commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) will host "TKAM 2010: To Kill a Mockingbird-Awakening America's Conscience," a series of statewide celebratory events to honor the book's lasting significance for the state, the country, and the world. The ongoing celebration will include, among others, a traveling art exhibit and auction, a To Kill a Mockingbird discussion panel, and a sneak-preview screening of the documentary film Our Mockingbird.
Events will kick off on April 9 in Birmingham at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church at 4:30 p.m. with "To Kill a Mockingbird at 50: Perspectives on One Book's Influence," a panel discussion of the novel featuring moderator John Carroll, dean of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University; panelist Delores Boyd, former federal judge and co-author of Jim Crow and Me: Stories From My Life As a Civil Rights Lawyer; panelist Jonathan Bass, chair of the Samford University history department and a leading expert on the civil rights movement in Alabama; and panelist Susan Swagler, book critic for several publications, including Birmingham Magazine. The event is free and open to the public.
An opening night reception for the event's preview art exhibition will follow the panel discussion, 6-8 p.m. at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). The preview art exhibit features original works of art inspired by the book and its themes by select local, statewide, and national artists. The traveling art exhibit will be open to the public at the BCRI April 10-May 14, and will travel to Montgomery, where it will be on display at the Stonehenge Art Gallery May 18-21. In conjunction with the preview art exhibit at the Stonehenge Gallery, Montgomery's historic Capri Theatre will show the award-winning To Kill a Mockingbird motion picture on May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
All of the exhibit's works of art will be auctioned as part of a special reception and celebration hosted by AHF in Montgomery at Wynfield Estates, the home of the late Winton and Carolyn Blount, on May 22, 6-9 p.m. The event will be attended by Mary Badham, who portrayed Jean Louise "Scout" Finch in the film, and Alabama's Pulitzer Prize winners Rick Bragg, Joey Kennedy, and Harold Jackson, among others. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view a sneak-preview screening of the documentary film Our Mockingbird, by independent filmmaker Sandra Jaffe, a one-hour documentary film about the influence of Lee's novel after fifty years. Interwoven through the documentary is the story of two high schools, Mountain Brook and Fairfield, who come together to create a coproduction of To Kill a Mockingbird. The film also includes interviews with Alabama scholars Wayne Flynt and Nancy Anderson. Tickets for the event are $50 per person and will go on sale May 5 at ahf.net/mockingbird.
Also during the 2010 Alabama Book Festival on April 17 in Old Alabama Town in Montgomery, Don Noble, emeritus professor of English at the University of Alabama, host of Bookmark on Alabama Public Television, and a former AHF Board member, will discuss his recently released book Critical Insights: To Kill a Mockingbird.
Along with the Alabama Tourism theme of "The Year of Small Towns and Downtowns," this year's Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, April 28-May 1, pays homage to the fiftieth anniversary of the book. The Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer of Year and the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama's Distinguished Literary Scholar are presented to Carolyn Haines and Ralph Voss, respectively, at the symposium.
April reviews include books by authors featured at this year's Alabama Book Festival. This month, read reviews of new work by Jennifer Horne, DéLana R. A. Dameron, Mary Ann Neeley, and Melinda Rainey Thompson and Morgan Murphy. Books Noted features new books by ABF authors Wade Hall and Foster Dickson.
Can't find your favorite ABF authors in our April reviews? Key their names into our searchable archive. Chances are you'll find them there, along with writers featured at this month's Montevallo Literary Festival, Slash Pine Poetry Festival, Limestone Dust Poetry Festival, and the Alabama Writers Symposium.
Each month First Draft Reviews Online features reviews of books by Alabama authors, books about our state, and books by local publishers. Each review offers a Web link to authors, publishers, and reviewers when available. The page also features a searchable archive to benefit readers, students, and scholars.
The Spring 2010 issue of First Draft has mailed. Featured in this issue are an interview with Harper Lee Award recipient Carolyn Haines by Aleta Boudreaux, a visit to Termite Hall in Mobile with Eleanor Inge Baker, and a trip to Washington for the Helen Keller statue unveiling with Jeanie Thompson. The magazine also includes stories on the Alabama State Council on the Arts Literature Fellowship recipients Mary Kaiser and Virginia Gilbert and the 2009 Writing Our Stories book release events.
In the meantime, point your family and friends to eleven years and twenty-nine issues of First Draft online. They will enjoy reading interviews with Harper Lee Award Winners, essays by some of the country's most notable writers, and reviews of books that have become literary treasures.
First Draft mails to AWF members in good standing. Make certain your membership is current so you won't miss a single issue.
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