Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Isabel Wilkerson is one of 12 featured speakers at the upcoming Southern Women Writers Conference hosted by Berry College.
Wilkerson spent 15 years interviewing more than 1,200 people to write “The Warmth of Other Suns”, her award-winning work of narrative nonfiction that tells the story of three people who joined the Great Migration of African Americans from the segregated South to other parts of the country.
The Ninth Biennial Southern Women Writers Conference is Sept. 20-23 and seeks to recognize the contributions of Southern women to American literature. The fee for the conference is $190. After Aug. 13, the fee is $215.
Scholarly and creative presentations and panel discussions as well as readings and lectures by contemporary authors provide a forum for examining the unique perspectives and concerns of Southern women writers of the past and present. Writers featured in the conference will include both local and internationally acclaimed authors.
Dorothy Allison is from Greenville, S.C., and is known for her novels “Bastard out of Carolina” (1992) and “Cavedweller” (1998.) Melissa Delbridge lives in Orange County, N.C., and is known for both her fiction and her memoir, “Family Bible” (2008). Josephine Humphreys is a native of Charleston, S.C., and winner of the Ernest Hemingway Award for best novel. Her works include “Dreams of Sleep” (1984) and “Rich in Love” (1987). Stacey Lynn Brown was born and raised in Atlanta, but currently lives in Edwardsville, Ill.
Her works include “Cradle Song” (2009), a book-length poem that grapples with issues of race, family, and cultural identity. Hermine Pinson teaches at the college of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. She has published three poetry collections, including “Dolores is Blue/Dolorez is Blues” (2007). Priscilla Wilson lives in Sautee-Nacooche, Ga., and is known for her memoir, “Gourd Girls” (2005).
Authors with Georgia connections include, Melanie Sumner, of Rome and Wilson, of Sautee-Nacoochee, Ga.
The theme for the 2012 conference is “Beginnings and Endings.” Speakers and presenters will explore the concepts of both literal and metaphorical “beginnings” and “endings” in a variety of ways. The conference also seeks to promote and encourage promising new Southern women writers by sponsoring creative writing workshops and an emerging writers contest in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. The first-place winners in each category of the contest will read from their work during the conference.
Berry Associate Professors of English Christina Bucher and Jim Watkins are organizing the conference.
“I think the most valuable thing the conference has to offer is how it brings together a diverse group of people—academics, creative writers, lovers of literature—and builds bridges between them and establishes a community over the course of the conference,” Bucher said. “Many conferences are strictly academic or strictly writing conferences or strictly book festivals, but the SWWC is unusual because of the way it draws these groups together.”
Watkins agreed and added, “The community is held together not only by a common interest in Southern women’s writing but also by a belief in the power of the written word to challenge outmoded assumptions, to expose what has been buried or hidden, to show the beauty in what many call plain or ugly, and to encourage others to speak out when they might otherwise remain silent.”