The theme for this year’s symposium is “Overcoming the Silence: To speak out when ‘It warrants no stir.'” which is inspired by Eudora Welty’s story “The Demonstrators,” which was published in The New Yorker in 1966 and appears in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

The names below are the list of authors for this year, including when available, links to author websites where you can learn a little more about this year’s line-up. Don’t forget that we will be selling books at Welty Book Table during the symposium.

Brad Watson

author of Miss Jane

7:30 PM on Thursday, October 20

Brad Watson returns as the keynote speaker, reading from his novel, Miss Jane, which garnered Watson his second National Book Award nomination. Kirkus Reviews calls Miss Jane “A well-written portrait of a person whose rich inner life outstrips the limits of her body.” Watson teaches at the University of Wyoming, and is the author of the story collections Last Days of the Dog Men and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives and the novel The Heaven of Mercury 

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David Armand

author of My Mother’s House

1:30 PM on Friday, October 21 


David Armand returns to the symposium with his memoir, My Mother’s House, about growing up with a schizophrenic mother, being adopted to a family with an alcoholic father, and ultimately reuniting with his mother after a failed suicide attempt. He has published three novels, The Pugilist’s Wife, Harlow, and The Gorge, as well as a chapbook of poems, The Deep Woods.


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Paulette Boudreaux

author of Mulberry

1:30 PM on Friday, October 21

Paulette Boudreaux a native Mississippian now lives in Los Gatos, California and teaches at West Valley College. Her debut novel , Mulberry, about a young girl growing up in Civil-Rights-era Mississippi, was awarded the inaugural Lee Smith Novel Prize from Caroline Wren Press, earning Lee Smith’s praise: “Mulberry moves from heart-stopping to heart-wrenching to, finally, heart-warming.” 

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Patricia Michelle Boyett

author of Right to Revolt: The Crusade for Racial Justice in Mississippi’s Central Piney Woods

9:00 AM on Friday, October 21


Patricia Boyett is Director of the Women’s Research Center at Loyola University New Orleans. She is the recipient of the 2016 Eudora Welty Prize for Right to Revolt: The Crusade for Racial Justice in Mississippi’s Central Piney Woods, her study of Civil Rights-era Jones and Forrest counties, beginning with the tragic murder of Vernon Dahmer, its causes and its aftermath. 

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Dana Chamblee Carpenter

author of The Bohemian Gospel

9:30 AM on Saturday, October 22

Dana Chamblee Carpenter, will read from her debut novel, Bohemian Gospel, which was awarded Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award. The novel tells the story of Mouse, a young, magical Joan of Arc figure in 13-century Bohemia, who saves the life of a king and struggles to understand her own power. Carpenter teaches creative writing and literature at Lipscomb University. 


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Kendall Dunkelberg

author of Barrier Island Suite

9:30 AM on Saturday, October 22

Kendall Dunkelbergdirects the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at the W, as well has the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. His third collection of poems Barrier Island Suite was inspired by Walter Ingles Anderson. His other poetry collections are Time Capsules, Landscapes and Architectures, and a collection of translated poems Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus 


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Becky Hagenston

author of Scavengers

9:30 AM on Saturday, October 22

Becky Hagenston was awarded the Permafrost Prize in Fiction from the University of Alaska Press for her third story collection, Scavengers, which chronicles the secrets and lives of contemporary suburban characters from Mississippi to Russia. Her previous collections are Strange Weather and A Gram of Mars. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Mississippi State University. 


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Randall Horton

author of Hook: A Memoir

9:00 AM on Friday, October 21

Randall Horton returns to the symposium with his memoir Hook, which tells of his spiral into a life of drugs and crime, and the redemptive power of writing, education, and poetry. Horton teaches at the University of New Haven, and is a visiting writer in in The W’s MFA program. He has published two poetry collections, Lingua Franca of Ninth Street and The Definition of Place

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James Kimbrell

author of Smote

9:00 AM on Friday, October 21

James Kimbrell is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. His collection of poems, Smote, has been praised by New Pages as “an apparition that haunts a racially segregated American South, told through the eyes of a boy confronted by ghosts.” He holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and teaches creative writing at Florida State University. His previous books are My Psychic and The Gatehouse Heaven. 


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Cole Lavalais

author of Summer of the Cicadas

9:00 AM on Friday, October 21

Cole Lavalais lives in Chicago and is currently teaching as visiting writer in the W’s low-residency MFA program in creative writing. Her debut novel, Summer of the Cicadas, takes her heroine Viola Moon to a Southern HBCU, where she confronts her heritage and her struggles with mental illness. Brooklyn Magazine called it “the ultimate intersectional novel.



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Richard Lyons

author of Un Poco Loco

1:30 PM on Friday, October 21

Richard Lyons returns to the symposium with his fourth collection Un Poco Loco, in which Lyons enlists portraits of artists, jazz musicians, entertainers and writers in a battle against intolerance and war, pride and desire. his other books include Fleur Carnivore, Hours of the Cardinal, and Modern Nights. He teaches creative writing and English at Mississippi State University. 


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Sandra Meek

author of An Ecology of Elsewhere

9:30 AM on Saturday, October 22

Sandra Meek brings her fifth collection of poetry, An Ecology of Elsewhere, poems reflecting on her experiences in Botswana in the Peace Corps, her mother’s death, and her travels with her sister and ailing father through the Southwest. She has previously published Road Scatter, Biogeography, Deep Travel, and Burn. She lives in Rome, Georgia, and teaches at Berry College. 


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