The Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium returns to Rent Auditorium on the campus of Mississippi University for Women Oct. 21-23, featuring author, scholar, editor and essayist W. Ralph Eubanks, whose most recent book “A Place Like Mississippi” weaves travelogue, literary history and memoir into an evocative portrayal of our state and its literary landscape.
This year’s symposium theme “‘All They Saw Was at the Point of Coming Together’: A Confluence of Southern Writers” celebrates the return to an in-person symposium after 2020’s first-ever all-virtual event. All symposium panels will be held on campus and are free and open to the public in Whitfield Hall’s Rent Auditorium to allow for social distancing. For those who are not comfortable attending in person or in case of renewed COVID-19 restrictions, the event will also live-stream to the symposium’s Facebook page.
Visit www.muw.edu/welty to RSVP to attend in person, join the live stream or view other updates about the symposium, which is made possible through the support of the Robert M. Hearin Foundation.
Emmy Award-winning journalist Elizabeth Vargas will be the featured speaker for Welty Gala at 7 p.m. Oct. 22, at the Trotter Convention Center downtown.
Vargas has traveled the world covering breaking news stories, reporting on in-depth investigations and conducting news-making interviews. She is the host of America’s Most Wanted on Fox TV. She hosted the hit news magazine show 20/20 on ABC for 15 years, was co-anchor of World News Tonight and was news anchor and frequent host of Good Morning America. She hosted A&E Investigates, doing a series of documentaries that still air on Hulu.
In 2016, Vargas released her memoir, “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction.” Autographed books will be available for purchase. Black tie is optional.
Online registration is available at www.muw.edu/welty/gala. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Office of Development and Alumni at 662-329-7148.
This year’s symposium features returning writers Josh Russell and Becky Hagenston with new story collections, “King of the Animals” and “The Age of Discovery” respectively, as well as poets Ashley M. Jones and Kendra Allen with their collections “Reparations Now!” and “The Collection Plate.” Jones was named poet laureate of Alabama in 2021 and is the first African American woman to hold the position. Hagenston is a resident of Starkville and professor of English at Mississippi State.
Authors who are new to the symposium include Annette Saunook Clapsaddle with her debut novel “Even As We Breathe” set in a Cherokee community in North Carolina; longtime Oxford resident Lee Durkee with his second novel “The Last Taxi Driver”; and Angela Jackson-Brown who brings her third book “When Stars Rain Down,” a historical novel that confronts a racial violence in north Georgia. Poets include former Louisiana poet laureate Jack Bedell with his collection “Color All Maps New,” as well as Joshua Nguyen, whose debut collection “Come Clean” won the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, and Thomas B. Richardson, who is a Mississippi School of Math and Science faculty member and W alumnus with his debut collection “How to Read,” published by Friendly City Books.
The Eudora Welty Prize will be awarded to Dr. Casey Kayser for her study, “Marginalized: Southern Women Playwrights Confront Race, Region, and Gender.” Along with the published authors, The W will welcome five high school students, winners of this year’s Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize for fiction, essay or poetry, which was judged by Kendra Allen and Annette Clapsaddle.