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December 16, 2002

Lee Smith headlines Birmingham-Southern College's 23rd Writing Today conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Best-selling author Lee Smith headlines the 23rd Writing Today conference at Birmingham-Southern College March 7-8, 2003.

Smith, the author of nine novels and three collections of short stories, is the Grand Master of the annual conference.

The Writing Today conference brings literary professionals from around the country to the Birmingham-Southern campus for how-to workshops and lectures on the literary arts, as well as practical information necessary to the craft of writing.

This year's program explores novels, short stories, essays, magazine feature writing, memoir and biography, children's and young adult writing, poetry, travel writing, publishing, and editing, among other topics.

Smith, a retired professor of English at North Carolina State University, has received many honors including an Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award. Her books include Oral History, Saving Grace, The Devil's Dream, and Fair and Tender Ladies, as well as three collections of stories including News of the Spirit and Me and My Baby View the Eclipse, both New York Times Notable Books. She also is the author of The Christmas Letters. Her latest novel, The Last Girls, was published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, N.C., in fall 2002.

The conference also will feature Hal Crowther, an essayist, editor, columnist, critic, and Pulitzer Prize nominee; Jim Rogers, a native of Demopolis and stockbroker/investor-turned memoir and travel writer; and Daniel Wallace, a native of Birmingham and author of the best-selling first novel Big Fish scheduled for filming in Montgomery in 2003 by director Tim Burton.

Crowther has published his essays, many of which are included in the collections Unarmed and Dangerous and Cathedrals of Kudzu: A Personal Landscape of the South, and in many anthologies. Cathedrals was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He has worked as a media columnist and a film and drama critic for the Buffalo News, a staff writer at Time magazine, associate editor for Newsweek magazine, columnist on film and media for The Humanist and Free Inquiry magazines, a regular contributor to the book pages of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a syndicated columnist and executive editor for Spectator magazine. His column “Dealer's Choice” has been featured in The Oxford American since 1994.

Rogers is the author of the best-selling book Investment Biker: On the Road with Jim Rogers, a memoir of his Guinness world record 104,710-kilometer motorcycle trip across six continents. His recently published second memoir, Adventure Capitalist, details his 116-country, 152,000-mile second trip around the world. He also is an investor who has been featured in The New Money Masters, Market Wizards, and other books, as well as in Barron's, Forbes, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and other publications. He founded the Quantum Fund, a global investment partnership that enabled him to retire when he was 37, since which time he has served as professor of finance at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and moderated “The Dreyfuss Roundtable” and “The Profit Motive with Jim Rogers.”

Born and raised in Birmingham, Wallace's second novel was published in 2000. His third novel, The Watermelon King, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in 2003. He also has published more than 30 stories in various magazines.

“We have assembled an outstanding group of literary professionals for this year's conference,” said Bill Cobb, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and chair of the Writing Today conference. “This is not only a credit to the national reputation this conference has achieved over the past 23 years, but also to the people in the Birmingham community who help plan this event, half of whom are published writers themselves.”

Other Writing Today 2003 faculty include:

Ellen Archer, vice president and publisher for Hyperion Publishers in New York whose marketing campaigns have included bestsellers by Michael J. Fox, John Grisham, and Faith Popcorn; Marlin Barton, Alabama native, short story writer and novelist, and Alabama Writers' Forum teacher; Myra Crawford, former Alabama poet-in-residence, author, and former managing editor of the Alabama Journal of Medical Sciences;

Pat DeVoto, author of My Last Days as Roy Rogers and Out of the Night That Covers Me; Abe Fawal, writer and filmmaker who has taught film and literature at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College; Gary Fisketjon, former editor at Random House and Vintage Books, editorial director of the Atlantic Monthly Press, and editor-at-large and vice president of Alfred A. Knopf;

James Haskins, author of more than 100 books for adults and young people who was presented the Children's Book Guild Award for a body of work in nonfiction for young people by the The Washington Post; Morgan Murphy, travel editor for Southern Living magazine; Janet McAdams, winner of the American Book Award in 2000 for her collection of poetry Island of Lost Luggage;

Louis Skipper, associate rector at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Birmingham and former visiting writer in English and religion at Wake Forest University and visiting writer at Sweet Briar College; and Emma Sweeney, literary agent with Harold Ober in New York and author of three books on gardening.

The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored since 1969 by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, will be presented during the conference. The competition awards $5,000 prizes for poetry and short fiction, as well as a $5,000 prize for an unpublished novel, sponsored by T. Morris Hackney, chairman of the board of The Hackney Group of Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College trustee. The Hackney Awards are open to writers nationwide.

For more information, contact Birmingham-Southern's Office of Special Events at 205/226-4921.


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