Literary celebration is top notch

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 13, 2009

Could this really be the 20th anniversary of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration?

Nonsense! It was only yesterday we were getting ready for the first celebration.

The program theme that year, 1990, was the Natchez Trace. Dr. Robert Remini, an Andrew Jackson scholar, was coming from Chicago to tell us about Jackson’s experiences on the Trace.

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The Secretary of the Interior was coming from Washington, D.C., to receive the keys to Melrose. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra was coming to perform.

What an experience. And that was just the beginning.

Although the NLCC is billed as “literature and cinema,” it has always focused on history, too. And since literature and history are two of my abiding interests, the conference is a special treat for me each year.

I have missed only one of the last 19 conferences. For the first 15 years I worked as a volunteer and enjoyed every minute of it.

Through the years I have also attended conferences and lectures in Baton Rouge and Jackson, but these require registration fees and ticket costs. The NLCC programs in Natchez are absolutely free, and the conference is presented in comfortable, delightful settings.

I have gotten to hear Eudora Welty, Margaret Walker Alexander, Robert Remini, William Styron, Ernest Gaines, Elizabeth Spencer, Shelby Foote, Willie Morris, Beth Henry, Maya Angelou, John Grisham, Greg Iles, Will Davis Campbell, Barry Hannah, Gerald McRaney, Stuart Margolin, Clifton Taulbert, Jennifer Ogden, Bill Ferris, Charles Reagan Wilson and many, many other authors.

And then there have been the scholars and historians who explored our heritage to a greater depth. I’ve heard William Winter, Peggy Prenshaw, Noel Polk, Jerry W. Ward Jr., Doug Inglis, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, John Guice, David Sansing, Alferdteen Harrison, Maryemma Graham, Julia Wright, Douglas Lewis and dozens of others. All have been superior.

When “cinema” was added to the celebration’s name, I became aware of a whole new component of literature. It’s screenwriting. Now when I make my selection from NetFlix, I pay attention to the screenwriter as well as to the actors.

The NLCC has enriched my life immensely, and if you have not been attending, I hope you will this year, Feb. 19-22. The theme is “Southern Women Writers: Saluting the Eudora Welty Centennial.”

Most events are at the Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main St. For more information, go to or call 601-446-1289 or e-mail

The NLCC is one of the best things Natchez offers. Join me in being a part of it.

Willie Mae Dunn is an organizer of the NLCC.