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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for March 29-April 4, 2002.

In this issue:


THIS WEEK in MISSISSIPPI LITERARY HISTORY

The following events all happened during these two weeks in Mississippi history.

Year:
1911: Theologian H. Leo Eddleman was born in Morgantown, Mississippi. (April 4)

1923: Adult education professor Curtis Ulmer was born in Rose Hill, Mississippi. (March 30)

1925: Writer Nathaniel Pace was born in Stone County, Mississippi. (April 1)

1928: Historian Irvine H. Anderson was born in Natchez, Mississippi. (March 29)

1932: Walker Percy’s mother was killed in an automobile accident. Percy was fifteen years old. (April 2)

1936: Eudora Welty’s exhibition of photographs appeared in New York’s Photographic Galleries. (March 31)

1937: Historian Ray Mathis was born in Sanford, Mississippi. (April 2)

1940: Eudora Welty received word that she had been refused a Guggenheim Fellowship. In March 1942, she won one for $1200. (March 29)

1940: The Hamlet, by William Faulkner, was published by Random House. (April 1)

1940: Historian Eric N. Moody was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (April 4)

1944: Fiction writer Eugene R. Dattel was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. (March 31)

1944: Science writer Frank White was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. (April 3)

1945: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams opened in New York City at the Playhouse Theatre. It took 24 curtain calls and won the New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award for best play. (March 31)

1946: Historian Lee E. Williams II was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (April 2)

1947: English professor Beverly Taylor was born in Grenada, Mississippi. (March 30)

1949: Model and entrepreneur Naomi Sims was born in Oxford, Mississippi. (March 30)

1950: Novelist and screenwriter Rudy Wilson was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (March 29)

1953: The Brooch, a teleplay written by William Faulkner, Ed Rice, and Richard McDonagh and based on Faulkner’s story, was broadcast on Lux Video Theatre. (April 2)

1961: William Faulkner arrived in Venezuela on a two-week State Department trip. (April 2)

1962: William Faulkner published “Hell Creek Crossing” in the Saturday Evening Post. (March 31)

1965: Muna Lee died of lung cancer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, two months after retiring from her position in the U.S. State Department. (April 3)

1972: Small Craft Warnings by Tennessee Williams opened at Truck and Warehouse Theatre in New York. The play ran for 200 performances as a commercial but not a critical success. (April 2)

1993: Writer Joseph Alexander died following a severe burn in a household fire in San Francisco, California. (April 1)

1999: Psychiatrist Garfield Tourney died in Jackson, Mississippi. (March 29)


NEWS about MISSISSIPPI WRITERS

Legislature plans Welty home funds

March 25, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. — (AP) The historic home where the late Eudora Welty grew up and wrote all of her books will get at least $700,000 from the state while family and supporters map out the house’s preservation.

Both the House and the Senate have included the money in separate versions of a bond bill to finance repairs at Mississippi universities, junior colleges and state buildings.

Governments issue bonds to borrow money. As with a person who takes out a loan, the state repays the debt over a number of years.

The Senate, in major bond programs, plans to allocate about $121 million; the House, $163 million. The chairmen of the tax-writing committees in both chambers expect a compromise to be somewhere between those figures. The bond proceeds for the Welty home restoration will be used to match a $3 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is working with the Eudora Welty Foundation on the renovation of the Tudor-style home near Belhaven College. Welty deeded the house to the department in 1986 and continued to live there until her death in July at age 92.

Historians have said the house needs a new roof and still has the original 1925 electrical wiring. Other work is to include new plumbing, a central heating and cooling system, and foundation stabilization.

Welty’s niece, Mary Alice White of Jackson, said the family is working with the department to keep the interior and contents almost completely intact. “I am very grateful the Legislature saw the value in honoring Mississippi’s literary heritage. I’m prejudiced. I think Eudora is one of the most distinguished authors in America. Her home will be one of the most intact literary home museums in the country,” White said.

Rep. Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said selling lawmakers on the renovation of Welty’s home was an easy task. “Her home is a place of not only state significance but national significance,” McCoy said. “Miss Welty is one of the most famous contributing citizens. She is nationally and internationally known. We want to do everything we can to preserve it and promote the great heritage she left us.”

White said plans are to restore the home’s gardens to the way they looked in the 1930s. “When people go into the house they will see the home as Eudora left it with all the paintings and books,” White said. “I have continued to be amazed reading the fan letters from all over the world, from as far away as Japan, France and Germany and from people that really appreciated Eudora's work.”

Another area of agreement between the House and the Senate is to set aside $15 million for campus improvements at historically black Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University.

The Legislature began setting aside the money last year, part of a five-year commitment with the money tied to the settlement of the college desegregation case signed in February by a federal judge. The campus improvements are part of the overall $500 million settlement. The Senate included the $15 million in a bond bill and, while the House did not, McCoy said the money will be available.

“This money will be provided. We’re not going to begin to spend these dollars as long as there is an appeal out there. And then we’re going to spend them according to the settlement,” McCoy said.

He said the College Board and Attorney General Mike Moore have presented lawmakers with long-range plans for spending the money. Both chambers also have agreed to at least $9 million for a new building for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and at least $12 million for construction of a new Mississippi Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The diagnostic lab will be constructed in Rankin County.

“We’ve been planning these for some time, and we’re trying to bring to them to fruition this year,” McCoy said.

The bills are Senate Bill 3197 and House Bill 1835.

 

Oxford Book Conference Celebrates Tennessee Williams, Grisham Writers-in-Residence

March 26, 2002

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — Acclaimed American playwright Tennessee Williams, who is credited with transforming the contemporary image of Southern literature, is paid tribute in the Ninth Oxford Conference for the Book April 11-14 at The University of Mississippi.

This year’s comprehensive four-day seminar of panel discussions, readings, signings and social events also honors UM’s John and Renee Grisham Southern Writer-in-Residence Tom Franklin and the 2002-03 Grisham Writer appointee Shay Youngblood, as well as six past holders of the prestigious post.

All conference sessions are in Johnson Commons on the UM-Oxford campus unless otherwise noted.

“Year after year, the Oxford Conference for the Book draws a fine assemblage of writers, literary critics, publishers and Southern literature lovers to the Southern literary mecca that is Oxford,” said Dr. Ann Abadie, associate director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “This year is no different. We have a spectacular lineup planned.”

Williams was born in 1911 in Columbus, Miss., where his first home is now the town’s Welcome Center. He is most noted for his plays The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

“There is little doubt that as a playwright, fiction writer, poet and essayist, Williams helped transform the contemporary idea of the Southern literature,” writes UM English doctoral student and writer Eric W. Cash. “However, as a Southerner he not only helped to pave the way for other writers, but also helped the South find a strong voice in those auspices, where before it had only been heard as a whisper.”

Drama critic Mel Gusso and literary scholar W. Kenneth Holditch talk about Williams’ life and career in panel discussions. Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Paula Vogel comments on Williams’ work and his impact on her own writing.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, UM departments of English and history, Square Books, and other UM departments and town organizations, the Conference for the Book examines book culture from the seeds of a writer’s inspiration to the marketing of a completed work. The event attracts book lovers from throughout the world to discuss issues that affect readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, scholars and others in the publishing industry.

In addition to selected readings from Williams’ plays, a presentation of his one-act play The Gnadiges Fraulein is set April 14 at 11 a.m. It is directed by Michele Cuomo, assistant professor of theatre arts, with Dr. Colby Kullman, professor of English, providing its commentary.

The conference also celebrates American Poetry Month, with readings by poets Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha Trethewey and William Trowbridge. The Young Authors Fair, sponsored in collaboration with the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, brings outstanding children’s author Gloria Jean Pinkney (Back Home, The Sunday Outing) to local schools and to the conference.

The conference begins Thursday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m., with a segment on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show, broadcast on 95.5 FM from Off Square Books in Oxford. Fennelly and novelist Richard Flanagan (The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Death of a River Guide) are guests.

That evening at 8, a special free screening of the film version of novelist Larry Brown’s short story collection Big Bad Love is set at Fulton Chapel on the UM-Oxford campus.

Panel discussions begin Friday, April 12, at 9 a.m., with a welcome by Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, and a writers workshop, “Submitting Manuscripts/Working One’s Way Into Print.” Barry Hannah, UM’s longtime writer-in-residence and author of Yonder Stands Your Orphan, moderates that discussion. Panelists include Franklin; Amy Hundley, a senior editor (and Hannah’s editor) at Grove/Atlantic, Inc.; Sheri Joseph (Bear Me Safely Over); Carol Houck Smith, an editor at W.W. Norton; Nat Sobel, founder of Sobel Weber Associates; and Brady Udall (Letting Loose in the Hounds, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint).

Hannah also moderates a second writer’s workshop April 12 at 10:30 a.m., “Finding a Voice/Reaching an Audience.” Expected on the panel are Steve Almond (My Life in Heavy Metal); Fiona McCrae, director of Graywolf Press; Rick Moody (Purple America, The Ice Storm); Aishah Rahman (Chiaroscuro: A Light — and Dark — Comedy, Chewed Water); and poet Natasha Trethewey (Domestic Work, Bellocq’s Ophelia).

In addition to various readings by noted poets and writers Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, other workshops include “The Endangered Species: Readers Today and Tomorrow,” April 13 at 9 a.m.; “The Book Business,” April 13 at 10:30 a.m.; “Covering Trouble,” April 13 at 1:30 p.m.; and “Poetry: Readings and Remarks,” April 13 at 3 p.m.

For more information, call the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture at 662-915-5993 or see www.olemiss.edu/depts/south/events/index.htm for a schedule. Those requiring special assistance because of a disability also should contact the sponsor.

 

Museum exhibit to feature Welty photographs alongside her contemporary artists

March 31, 2002

JACKSON, Miss. — Eudora Welty’s photographs of the 1930’s Great Depression will be presented together with paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs of notable American artists of the era in an exhibit to begin this spring.

The exhibition, “Passionate Observer: Eudora Welty — Among Artists of the Thirties” will open April 6 at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson and will run through June 30.

The exhibit will offer comparisons between Welty’s artistic motivation and other visual interpretations of the times. She once said her purpose in photography, as in fiction, was “not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”

More than just a chronicle, Welty’s photographs, like her celebrated story writing, reveal the courage and dignity of the American people during this pivotal era.

Among those whose work will be displayed alongside Welty’s are Southern artists Walter Anderson, William Hollingsworth, Marie Hull, John McCrady, and Karl Wolfe; photographers Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, and Dorothea Lange; and national artists Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood.

For more information about the museum, including admission price and hours of operation, please contact the Mississippi Museum of Art by telephone at (601) 960-1515. The museum web site address is www.msmuseumart.org.

For more on the Welty exhibition as well as a number of special programs associated with the exhibition, visit the museum’s web page on the exhibition at www.msmuseumart.org/welty/index.html.


Do you have a news item about a Mississippi writer? Please send your information to mwp@olemiss.edu.


NEW BOOKS about Mississippi Writers

Tennessee Williams and the South
By Kenneth Holditch and Richard Freeman Leavitt
University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $30.00, ISBN 1-57806-410-4)
Publication date: April 2002

Description from the publisher:

Words and pictures that show the South’s imprint on the life and works of the great playwright

No other writer has been more closely connected to the region of his birth than Tennessee Williams. Indeed, he remarked on several occasions that the farther south one went in America, the more congenial life was. He wrote, he said, not only of the present but also of the past and of a South that had no counterpart anywhere else.

Combining his words with pictures, this biographical album reveals the closeness of Williams to the American South. Although he roamed far, he never forgot the “more congenial climate” the South afforded him and his creativity.

Williams was born in Mississippi in 1911 and lived there with his family until he was seven. Thomas Lanier Williams, who became “Tennessee,” absorbed much of his creative material from this Mississippi home place. Many of his ancestors were distinguished Tennesseans, a fact in which he took considerable pride. Although he grew to maturity in St. Louis, it was to the South that he continually returned in his memory and in his imagination. It was in New Orleans and Key West that he chose to spend a large part of his later years.

His characters — Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Alma Winemiller in Summer and Smoke, and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire — are victims of having outlived the southern past in which they had been at home. Unlike them, despite the region’s industrial transformation, Williams always found the South his own.

This book underscores that intimate connection by featuring photographs of people and places that influenced him. Enhanced with a long essay and captioned with quotations from Williams’s plays, memoirs, and letters, more than one hundred pictures document the keen sense of place that he felt throughout his life and career.

Kenneth Holditch, a professor emeritus at the University of New Orleans, the editor of the Tennessee Williams Journal, and the co-editor (with Mel Gussaw) of the Library of America edition of Williams’s works, lives in New Orleans.

Richard Freeman Leavitt is the editor/compiler of The World of Tennessee Williams and the compiler of the photographs and the genealogical chart for Lyle Leverich’s Tom: The Unknown Williams. He lives in the Great North Woods region of New Hampshire.

 

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

April 3: Barnard Observatory lecture hall, University of Mississippi campus, Oxford, Mississippi, 12 noon
Lecture: “Yoknapatawpha 2001: Town & Country.” Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series presentation by University of Mississippi students in a documentary fieldwork class. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, www.olemiss.edu/depts/south/.

April 3: Holmes Community College Library, Ridgeland, Mississippi
Jeanne Kelly will be on hand for a signing of her new book, From Sunrise to Sunset. Kelly’s book was published by the Mississippi Poetry Society as winner of the second annual Poet of the Year award. She is an instructor at Holmes.

April 5: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:00 p.m.
Richard Ford returns to Square Books in Oxford with a new collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins.

If you know of upcoming readings and appearances by Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at mwp@olemiss.edu.

 

ON THE HORIZON

The following events are planned for the coming weeks and months. You may wish to begin planning now to attend or participate.

The Ninth Oxford Conference for the Book
April 11-14, 2002
The University of Mississippi and Oxford, Mississippi

Complete details are now available at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture web site, www.olemiss.edu/depts/south/obc/.

April 16, 2002
The Madison Public Library is having a book signing for poet Jeanne Kelly, author of From Sunrise to Sunset, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. In honor of National Library Week, the library is sponsoring a book signing featuring a local author each day. Her book will also be available at the MPS Spring Festival at Lake Tiak-O’khata in Louisville, Mississippi, on May 18.

Interhostel: “Views from the South: Literature, History, and Art”
April 21-26, 2002
E. F. Yerby Conference Center, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi
Short-term academic program for individuals 50 and older (with accompanying spouses or adult companions of any age). Sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Studies. Fee: $845 (includes five nights hotel accommodations, meals, classes and extracurricular activities). Sponsored by: UM Institute for Continuing Studies. For more information, please contact: Lynne Geller at 662-915-7282; or email: cstudies@olemiss.edu

April 27, 2002
Children’s book writer Laurie Parker will give a reading at Square Books in Oxford from her new book, The Turtle Saver. It’s the story of a man who stops on the Natchez Trace to move a turtle off the pavement and ends up setting off a hilarious chain of events.

The 29th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference:
“Faulkner and His Contemporaries”

July 21-26, 2002
The University of Mississippi, Oxford

Conference and registration information is now available on the web at the www.olemiss.edu/depts/south/faulkner/


If you know of additional news items for this newsletter or if you have suggestions, please write us at mwp@olemiss.edu.

For more information about events in the Oxford and University, Mississippi Community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:
www.olemiss.edu/calendar/

The Mississippi Writers Page is online at
www.olemiss.edu/mwp/


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