Two authors to win at NLCC

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

NATCHEZ — Two prominent authors with Southern roots are slated to win major writing awards at the 20th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. The event takes place Feb. 19-22.

4Best-selling novelist Carolyn Haines, a native of Lucedale, now of the University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

4Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey, a native of Gulfport, now of Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.

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Both will be present to receive the awards and make remarks at a free public ceremony at 6:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21, in the Grand Soleil Hotel ballroom.

Haines and Trethewey will each win a Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award, given annually as a way to honor the internationally acclaimed author Richard Wright, Natchez’s own “native son.”

“We are delighted to have these outstanding writers coming to Natchez,” said Carolyn Vance Smith of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, founder and co-chairman of the NLCC. “The conference is indebted to a hard-working award committee.”

Haines, a multi-published author, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. She also holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Southern Alabama, Mobile, where she currently teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction classes.

Early in her career, Haines worked for newspapers as a photographer and reporter while working on short stories for pleasure. Her first novel, Summer of the Redeemers, is a coming-of-age story set in the fictional town of Jexville, Miss., in 1963. Next was the novel, Touched, set in the same town in 1926.

She has written a series about amateur detective Sarah Booth Delaney, her strong friendships and her love of the land.

She has also written four crime thrillers.

Trethewey, who holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair and is Professor of Poetry at Emory University, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection, “Native Guard.”

Her first poetry collection, Domestic Work, published in 2000, won the Cave Canen poetry prize, which was selected by poet Rita Dove; a 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize; and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Her second collection in 2002, Belocq’s Ophelia, received the 2003 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize; was a finalist for both the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin and Lenore Marshall prizes; and was named a 2003 Notable Book by the American Library Association.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2003 and 2000 and in journals such as Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review and The Southern Review.

She is the recipient of the 2008 Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for Poetry and was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, a master’s degree from Hollins University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts.

She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliff institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has taught at Auburn University, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Duke University.

The Horton Foote Award for Special Achievement in Screenwriting will not be presented in 2009. The intended recipient, Steven Soderbergh, is unable to attend the NLCC, and a condition of the award is the physical presence of the winner at the awards ceremony.

The Richard Wright awards committee is chaired by David G. Sansing, professor of history emeritus, The University of Mississippi. Co-chairman of the committee is John D. W. Guice, professor of history emeritus, the University of Southern Mississippi. They will present the awards at the ceremony Feb. 21.