New activities to be part of Conference on Southern Literature next month

New activities to be part of Conference on Southern Literature next month

March 13th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment


All events at the Tivoli Theatre, unless otherwise noted; schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, April 14

• 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: Registration.

• 10-10:30 a.m.: A Conversation With Elizabeth Spencer and Kevin McCarthy; moderated by Sharon Swanson, producer.

• 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Documentary film premiere, "Landscapes of the Heart: The Elizabeth Spencer Story."

• 2-2:15 p.m.: George Garrett New Writing Award presentation by Rodney Jones to James Hall.

• 2:15-3:15 p.m.: Meet the new Fellowship of Southern Writers fiction writers, Percival Everett, Ann Patchett, Jayne Anne Phillips and Padgett Powell.

• 3:30-3:45 p.m.: James Still Award for Writing About the Appalachian South presentation by Lee Smith to Jeff Daniel Marion.

• 3:45-4:45 p.m.: A Writer's Response to Environmental Threats: Preserving the Southern Landscape, Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, Lee Smith and Natasha Trethewey, moderated by Jill McCorkle.

• 5-5:30 p.m.: Book signing.

• 8 p.m.: Play presentation, "Cicada" (Chattanooga Theatre Centre).

Friday, April 15

• 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.: Registration.

• 9-9:30 a.m.: A Tribute to Harper Lee led by Wayne Flynt and John Shelton Reed.

• 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Meet the new Fellowship of Southern Writers poetry and fiction writers, Betty Adcock, R.H.W. Dillard, Claudia Emerson and Ron Rash.

• 10:45-11 a.m.: Hanes Award presented by James Applewhite to Kate Daniels.

• 11-11:15 a.m.: Hillsdale Award presented by Clyde Edgerton to George Singleton.

• 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Panel discussion: Discoveries Writers Make While Writing; Dorothy Allison, Allan Gurganus, Josephine Humphreys and Allen Wier.

• 2:30-2:45 p.m.: Cecil Woods Award for Nonfiction presented by George Core to Scott Russell Sanders.

• 3:00-3:15 p.m.: Donald Justice Award for Poetry presented by Andrew Hudgins to Gerald Barrax.

• 3:15-4:15 p.m.: Panel discussion: Southern Poetic Identities, James Applewhite, Andrew Hudgins, Rodney Jones and Natasha Trethewey.

• 4:30-5 p.m.: Book signing.

• 7 p.m.: Keynote address by Dorothy Allison; Book Notes, a time of music and mingling at Tanner-Hill Gallery, Warehouse Row, follows (featuring the paintings of Clyde Edgerton and Louis D. Rubin, Jr.).

Saturday, April 16

• 8 a.m.-5 p.m.: Registration.

• 9-10 a.m.: Meet the new Fellowship of Southern Writers fiction and drama writers, Elizabeth Cox, Tony Earley, Charles Frazier and Katori Ha;ll.

• 10-10:15 a.m.: Bryan Family Foundation Award for Drama to Jerre Dye.

• 10:15-11:15 a.m.: Panel discussion: The Ultimate Conflict - Writing About War, Richard Bausch, Madison Smartt Bell and Robert Morgan.

• 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.: Keynote luncheon address by Roy Blount, Jr.; Cleanth Brooks Medal presentation to Ernest J. Gaines.

• 1:30- 2:30 p.m.: Panel discussion: Producing Plays, Jerre Dye, Jim Grimsley, and Katori Hall.

• 2:45-3 p.m.: Robert Penn Warren Award presented by Jill McCorkle to Elizabeth Cox.

• 3-4 p.m.: Panel discussion: Southern Politics and Southern Literature, Clyde Edgerton, Randall Kenan and Sam Pickering.

• 4-4:30 p.m.: Fellowship Award for the Spoken Word presented by Dorothy Allison to Minton Sparks; performance by Minton Sparks.

• 4:30-5 p.m.: Book signing.

What's new at the Arts & Education Council's 16th biennial Conference on Southern Literature? A lot, it seems.

This year's event, scheduled for April 14-16 at the Tivoli Theatre, will feature new programs, more community involvement and three full days of activities.

"We wanted to bring in different ways of celebrating the South and Southern literature," said Laurel Eldridge of the Arts & Education Council.

Among the new activities is the April 14 local premiere of the documentary film "Landscapes of the Heart: The Elizabeth Spencer Story" and a conversation between the short-story writer and the film's director, Kevin McCarthy.

A play scheduled for the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, "Cicada," by Jerre Dye, is also a new wrinkle at the conference, which has been termed by writer/critic Louis D. Rubin Jr. "the leading literary event in the South." While the April 14 play is included in the conference cost for attendees, others may attend for $5.

Visual art also will be integrated this year with the advent of Book Notes, an after-party at Tanner-Hill Gallery in Warehouse Row following April 15's keynote address by Dorothy Allison. Admission to the event, where attendees can mingle with authors and see paintings by authors Clyde Edgerton and Rubin, is included with conference registration.

The after-party will have a casual format, according to Eldridge. There also will be some works for sale, she said.

Roy Blount Jr. will deliver the April 16 keynote address.

Eldridge said the humorist and author is also likely to read from his new book, "Alphabetter Juice" (a sequel to "Alphabet Juice"), which will be released in May.

"I don't know if he can do much without making jokes," she said.

Among other highlights are a tribute to "To Kill a Mockingbird" author Harper Lee on April 15 and the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement medal - one of nine literary prizes to be awarded - on April 16 to Ernest Gaines, author of books such as "A Lesson Before Dying" and "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman."

Although the conference runs Thursday through Saturday, April 14-16, many of the 51 invited authors will be in town on Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, April 12-13, to appear at schools, book clubs and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Eldridge said 10 authors will fan out to area book clubs, two will go to a creative writing workshop and 20 will go to high schools and UTC.

Many of the high school students, she said, will have read a work by the writer coming to their school.

"We're trying to, in every way possible, get these writers out in the community," Eldridge said.

Among the authors coming are two who were honored for their work in recent weeks. Poet, fiction writer, essayist and conservationist Wendell Berry was one of 10 recipients of the National Humanities Medal presented by President Obama on March 2, and short story writer Richard Bausch was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Fiction on Feb. 22 for his collection of short stories, "Something is Out There: Stories."

Many of the authors also will be involved in the April 12 award ceremony at the Tivoli Theatre honoring the winners in the Young Southern Student Writers contest, she said. More than 5,000 entries from students in grades kindergarten through 12 were received, she said.

The all-inclusive cost of the conference is $125, but individual April 14-16 sessions are $55, $55 and $65, respectively. There is no cost to attend April 15's keynote address, but a donation is requested.


Volunteers are needed to help with the Arts & Education Council's 16th biennial Conference on Southern Literature April 14-16, according to the AEC's Laurel Eldridge. Help is needed with book sales, book signings, ushering and other areas. Volunteers can schedule their jobs around the events they may want to attend, she said, and receive a discounted registration cost of $75. For information, call the AEC at 267-4232 or visit