Beginning and Endings
Berry College recently hosted the final Southern Women Writers Conference. The conference, which began in 1994, recognized the contributions of Southern women to American literature. In honor of the final conference, this year's theme was "Beginnings and Endings," in which speakers and presenters explored the concepts of literal and metaphorical "beginnings" and "endings." Reading and lectures by contemporary authors provided a forum for examining the unique perspectives of Southern women writers of the past and present.
"This was a fantastic conference," said Associate Professor of English Christina Bucher. "In terms of running smoothly, the quality of the featured speakers, the sense of community that was formed -- everything was nigh perfect. I can't tell you how many longtime attendees and first-timers said this was one of the most powerful experiences they'd had."
Scholarly and creative presentations and panel discussions as well as readings and lectures by contemporary authors provide a forum for examining the unique perspectives and concerns of Southern women writers of the past and present. Writers featured in the conference will include both local and internationally acclaimed authors. Featured speakers included Isabel Wilkerson, Dorothy Allison, Stacey Lynn Brown, Marshall Chapman, Barbara Hamby, Melissa Delbridge, Josephine Humphreys, Kathryn McKee, Melody Moezzi, Hermine Pinson, Melanie Sumner, Isabel Wilkerson and Priscilla Wilson.
The conference sought to inspire young women writers at Berry by sponsoring creative workshops and emerging writers' contests in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Emily Caldwell, a Knoxville, Tenn. senior, won the fiction category with her work, "A Brief Outburst of Pent-Up Aggression." McKenzie Reeves, a Cumming, Ga., senior, won the creative non-fiction category with her work, "Popsicle Stick Jesus." Chelsea Fryar, a Chattanooga, Tenn. sophomore, took home the first place prize for poetry.
Senior Alyssa Hollingsworth, an English major from Norfolk, Va., attended the session led by award-winning author Isabel Wilkerson and gained great insight into the craft of writing.
"I related a lot to various points throughout the talk, especially to her argument about where people find warmth. Her openness to approaching the topic as something we all can relate to through our various journeys was something that helped me connect to her characters and stories, because I've made new homes in cold places, though obviously not under the same circumstances," she said.
Article by Student Public Relations Assistant Hayden Sloan and photos by student photographers Blake Childers, Mary Claire Stewart and Sarah Garrett.