Welty Symposium 2020 Concludes

We'd like to thank everyone who made the 32nd Annual Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium a success, especially our authors, who all handled the challenges of giving a reading to their laptops, pets, and Zoom incredibly well, and our audience in Zoom and on Facebook. We had 30-40 people in Zoom and anywhere from 150-250 people watching live on Facebook for each session. Though there's no way to tell how many Facebook viewers watched from beginning to end or how many tuned in briefly to check out the video, some may have returned later, as our numbers continue to grow.

Videos of the Friday and Saturday panels are archived in our Facebook group. We hope that individuals and classes who missed the Symposium will find this a valuable resource, and we hope to be able to continue live-streaming the Symposium when we return as an in-person event. Next year's dates will be October 21-23, 2021, when we hope to be back in Poindexter Hall. We've learned, though, that no matter what the world throws at us, whenever we can bring great Southern writers and readers together, magic happens. Thanks again to all who joined us for our first ever virtual symposium. See you next year!

Natasha Trethewey to Headline 32nd Annual Symposium

U.S. and Mississippi poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey will be the keynote author at the 32nd Annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, Oct. 22-24, 2020. The world-renowned poet comes to the symposium with her first memoir, “Memorial Drive,” which recounts her early life with her mother and her abusive stepfather that would ultimately lead to her mother’s murder. Kiese Laymon, writing for the New York Times, acknowledges that “the memoir is not the hardest book I have ever read,” but it is “the hardest I could imagine writing.” He argues that “‘Memorial Drive’ forces the reader to think about how the sublime Southern conjurers of words, spaces, sounds and patterns protect themselves from trauma when trauma may be, in part, what nudged them down the dusty road to poetic mastery.”

As such, Trethewey’s memoir serves as a fitting launching point for this year’s symposium theme, “‘Walking Along in the Changing-Time” Southern Writers in Uncertain Times,” which is inspired by Welty’s story “The Wide Net.” Due to travel concerns and COVID-19, the keynote session, including Trethewey’s reading, will be streamed live on October 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Other writers who will present at the symposium include: Beth Kander (Original Syn Trilogy), Randall Horton ({#289-128}: Poems), Juyanne James (Table Scraps and Other Essays), Sandra Meek (Still), Catherine Pierce (Danger Days), Katy Simpson Smith (The Everlasting), Michael Farris Smith (Blackwood), M. O. Walsh (The Big Door Prize), and Claude Wilkinson (World Without End). At least one other panel will be virtual and some may be in person with a limited audience if public health conditions allow. All panels will also be live streamed. 

Since there will be no live Welty Gala this year, the symposium schedule will also be adjusted to include sessions on Friday Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. till 12 p.m., 1:30-3:30 p.m., and 7:00-9:00 p.m. CST and Saturday Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. till 12 p.m.

All times are subject to change. Please see www.muw.edu/welty for more details on the program and the link to watch our live-streamed events.

Eudora Welty Series 2020 Dates — October 22-24

This year's Eudora Welty Series will be held on October 22-24, 2020. Though there is much we can't predict about the Symposium, Gala, and Art Exhibits this year, we are moving forward with plans to bring writers to campus. Any plans will involve live-streaming the event either from campus or if necessary from each author's location. Much will depend on the how things develop with COVID-19. We will do our best to protect the health of our authors and our audience members and to follow state, local, and national guidelins. As always, we are very grateful to the Robert M. Hearin Foundation for their support of the series.