BSC Office of Communications

News from the Hilltop

February 20, 2007

American nonfiction writer Gay Talese to be Grand Master at Birmingham-Southern's 27th annual Writing Today conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Gay Talese will serve as Grand Master for Writing Today 2007, at Birmingham-Southern College. The annual event will be March 9 and 10, 2007, on the BSC campus.

Talese, a graduate of the University of Alabama, was on the staff of “The New York Times” before turning to full-time, independent writing. He has been credited as the creator of the form of nonfiction known as “the new journalism.” His latest book, “A Writer's Life,” is his most self-reflective work in which he writes of the ordinary people who touched his life, his days as a student at the University of Alabama, and his experiences as a reporter in Selma during the civil rights era. Among his bestselling books are “Unto the Sons,” “The Kingdom and the Power,” “Honor Thy Father,” “Thy Neighbor's Wife,” “The Bridge,” and “New York: A Serendipiter's Journey.”

Major speakers for the 2007 conference include Rebecca Gilman, an internationally known playwright, Alabama native, and BSC graduate who currently teaches playwriting in the MFA program for Dramatic Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University in Chicago, and Richard Schickel, a film critic, documentary film maker, and movie historian who has written more than 30 books. Included among his 30 documentaries are “Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin,” “Scorsese on Scorsese,” and the upcoming “Spielberg on Spielberg.”

Faculty for Writing Today 2007 include Frederic C. Beil, founder of Frederic C. Beil, Publisher, Inc., an independent publishing house in Savannah, Ga.; Ken Booth, an online editor for the well-known Internet company responsible for all editorial coverage and day-to-day management of the site; Myra Crawford, a former Alabama poet-in-residence who has chaired the Hackney Literary Awards competition since 1969; Kirk Curnutt, author of three soon to be released books who has been a three-time consecutive winner of the Hackney Literary Award for short stories; Freeda Fawal-Farah, a Birmingham native and BSC graduate who began her publishing career at “Southern Living” and “Southern Accents” magazines and has since held senior positions at some of the world's leading magazines; Jim Gilbert, editor-in-chief at River City Publishers in Montgomery; Jim Murphy, assistant professor of English at the University of Montevallo; Jim Gilbert, editor-in-chief at River City Publishers in Montgomery; Jim Murphy, assistant professor of English at the University of Montevallo; Merle Ginsberg, a well-known West Coast based journalist and author; Dan Green, president of Pom Inc., a New York based literary agency established 15 years ago; Jennifer Horne, co-editor of “All Out Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality” and editor of “Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets” who teaches in the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project; Watt Keys, a BSC alumnus and writer who is a partner in a custom software development, computer consulting and web-hosting firm in Mobile; Wendy Reed, writer, producer, and director at the Alabama Center for Public Television; Steven Rudd, a practicing physician and sometime lawyer and author responsible for the crime novel “Midnight Red,” which introduced forensic psychiatrist Kris Van Zant to her fans; Carroll Dale Short, a print and broadcast journalist and commentator, teacher, novelist, and playwright; Jeanie Thompson, executive director of the Alabama Writers' Forum and professor in the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA Writing Program; and Ashley Umbach, author of “Tales From My Tiny Kingdom,” an online column.

The Writing Today conference brings literary professionals from around the country to the college's campus for sessions and lectures on the craft of writing, as well as practical information related to publishing literary works.

The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored since 1969 by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, are presented during the conference each year. The competition awards $5,000 in prizes for poetry and short fiction, as well as a $5,000 prize for an unpublished novel. The Hackney Awards are open to writers nationwide.

Writing Today is supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Southern Progress Corp. Registration is in progress. For more information, contact Birmingham-Southern's office of College Events at 205/226-4921.

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