FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
Oct. 4, 2011
Author and alumna Minrose Gwin to present at Welty Symposium
By Jill D. O’Bryant
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Mississippi University for Women alumna Minrose Gwin, who is the author of the novel “The Queen of Palmyra” and memoir “Wishing for Snow,” both published by Harper Collins/Harper Perennial, will speak at the university’s 23rd annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium scheduled for Oct. 20-22.
“The Queen of Palmyra,” which is set in Mississippi in the 1960s and explores race relations though the eye of a child, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick and an IndieBound Notable book. It also was selected as a Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read and a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Board Award and the Julia Peterkin Award.
“Here it is, the most powerful and also the most lyrical novel about race, racism and denial in the American South since ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’” author Lee Smith said about Gwin’s novel.
Also receiving positive reviews, “Wishing for Snow” is a tribute to Gwin’s late mother who suffered from psychosis.
Booklist says “Wishing for Snow” is “an eloquent memoir” and “definitely a real-life story we all need to hear.”
“I’ve been writing books since I left graduate school, but those were scholarly books,” she said. “I wrote my memoir, ‘Wishing for Snow,’ because I was grieving my mother’s death and feeling very guilty about my inability to take care of her during her episodes of mental illness, and then the novel came along.
“I was working on a book on Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers and had done a lot of research into the period of the early sixties. Racism is such a vicious sickness and I wanted to understand it better, so I chose to do that through the eyes of a child.”
Gwin has been a writer all her working life, starting out as a newspaper and wire service reporter. Also a scholar and educator, she lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., where she teaches literature and creative writing at the University of North Carolina and fiction and creative nonfiction workshops at the University of New Mexico Taos Writers Conference.
She explained, “I really love to teach creative writing and encourage other writers. I also love to teach literature. Talking about reading and writing - what could be better?”
Gwin attended MUW her freshmen and sophomore years in the mid-sixties before transferring to the University of Tennessee to earn her bachelor, master’s and doctorate degrees in English, but she said she has fond memories of her time at MUW and feels her experiences there helped mold her into the person and writer she is today.
“We had a wonderful community of young women, and I’m still good friends with many of them,” she said. “It was good to be taken so seriously as a student. This is something I try to pass along to my students at the University of North Carolina and other places I’ve taught.”
Gwin’s ties to MUW include more than her years as a student. Her great-grandmother Erin Taylor Kincannon (class of 1888), her great aunt Jane Stuart Kincannon Holland (class of 1928) and her grandmother Minrose Kincannon Clayton (class of 1910) all are graduates of MUW. While at MUW, Gwin roomed with a cousin, Lynn Kincannon Holland Doughty (class of 1967).
It is because of these ties and her respect for the work of Eudora Welty that she is excited to be speaking at the Welty Symposium.
“I’m such a Welty fan and have written on Welty a bit,” Gwin said. “I’m honored to be a speaker and thrilled to come back and see the changes at The W.”
For more information about MUW’s Welty Symposium, please visit www.muw.edu/welty or contact the director Dr. Kendall Dunkelburg at 662-329-7386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.