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APSU co-sponsors first Clarksville Writers Conference

For lovers of literature and wannabe writers, APSU is the place to be in early June.

Slated for June 8-11 in the city often called the mecca for Southern Renaissance writers, the first Clarksville Writers Conference, hosted by APSU and the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council, is drawing interest nationwide.
For lovers of literature and wannabe writers, APSU is the place to be in early June.

Slated for June 8-11 in the city often called “the mecca for Southern Renaissance writers,” the first Clarksville Writers Conference, hosted by APSU and the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council, is drawing interest nationwide.

The conference is dedicated to the most notable of those early writers, Robert Penn Warren, a native of nearby Guthrie, Ky. Educated in Clarksville, Warren ultimately received three Pulitzer Prizes for his work in fiction and poetry, a number yet to be matched by another author.

Like Warren and other distinguished writers of the area who produced enduring Southern literature, distinguished authors will gather at APSU in June to share their stories, talents and tips.

Open to the public, the conference is divided into two parts. Attendees can choose to participate in either or both.

Part I (June 8-9) has been set aside to study the histories and works of the Southern Renaissance writers. It includes guided bus tours of the homes of several of the writers, including Robert Penn Warren, and a luncheon at Cloverlands Plantation.

A “Meet the Authors” reception is slated for 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 10 at the Clarksville County Club, with dinner following at 6:35 p.m. Dinner entertainment includes a performance by David Madden of “Jack Burden's Picture Gallery,” from Warren's book, “All the Kings Men.”

Part II (June 10-11) offers a variety of workshops, led by renowned authors:

*Flair and Mcavity Award-winner Deborah Adams's first novel, “The Great Pretenders,” was nominated for the Agatha Award in 1993. A seventh-generation Tennessean who brings an appreciation of the lore and traditions of Appalachia to her work, Adams creates satirical novels that gently tweak the reader's conscience while tickling the funny bone. Her latest book, “All the Dirty Cowards” is a mystery and a piece of history and humor.

*Denise Brennan-Nelson is a nationally renowned children's book author, who received the First Place Juvenile Literary Award from Friends of American Writers in 2000. Previous winners of this award include Carl Sandburg and Toni Morrison. Since her first publication, “Buzzy the Bumblebee,” in 1999, she has produced “My Momma Likes to Say” and “My Teacher Likes to Say.” He newest book, “Someday Is Not Just a Day of the Week,” was released in March 2005.

*Barry Kitterman teaches creative writing at Austin Peay State University and is the senior editor of “Zone 3” literary magazine. A member of the faculty for the Tennessee Young Writers Workshop, Kitterman's literary works have appeared in “Flyway,” “The Chariton Review” “The Carolina Quarterly” and elsewhere.

*David Madden has published nine novels, two collections of short stories and a multitude of literary criticism, essays, poems, plays and textbooks. The University of Tennessee Press is publishing a book about him, “David Madden: A Writer for All Genres.” He has received numerous awards, including a Rockefeller Grant and the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction. “The Suicide's Wife” and “Sharpshooter” were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. “The Suicide's Wife” was a CBS movie. Madden was the Roy Acuff Distinguished Professor at APSU. Now the holder of the Crumbley Professorship in Creative Writing at Louisiana State University, he is the conference keynote speaker and will conduct a two-hour creative writing workshop.

*Kentuckian Teresa Medeiros is a New York Times bestselling novelist. In fact, all 15 of her romance novels have been national bestsellers, climbing as high as #12 on the New York Times Best Seller List and #9 on Publishers Weekly. She was chosen one of the Top 10 Favorite Romance Authors by “Affaire de Coeur” magazine, and won Roman Times Review's Choice for “Best Historical Love and Laughter.” She is a two-time PRISM winner and two-time recipient of the Waldenbooks Award for bestselling fiction. “One Night of Scandal” won the Roman Reviewer's Choice for Best Historical Romance of 2003. The New York Times bestseller, “Yours Until Dawn” was released in August 2004. “After Midnight” will be released in August 2005.

*Linda Robinson is a senior writer for “U, S. News & World Report,” specializing in national security issues. Before joining “U.S. News & World Report,” she was senior editor at “Foreign Affairs” magazine. During 2000-01, she was a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University. In 2003, she covered the U.S. Special Operations Forces as an embedded journalist during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Published in October 2004, her book “Masters of Chaos,” which was about the U.S. Army Special Forces, made the New York Times bestseller list.

*Dr. Steve Ryan has taught American literature at APSU since 1977. His early publications focused on such writers as Herman Melville and Flannery O'Connor. Since 1989, his scholarly work has been on modern writers associated with the Clarksville region, including Evelyn Scott and Caroline Gordon. Ryan co-edited issues of the Southern Quarterly about this area's Southern Renaissance writers. He also wrote a stage adaptation of Gordon's “The Strange Children.”

*Michael Shoulders, who attended APSU when his father was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., is retiring from a 29-career with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System to pursue a full-time career as a children's writer. He wrote a column, “Story Time,” for The Leaf-Chronicle in which he reviewed children's literature from an educator's point of view. Among his children's books are “M is for Magnolia: A Mississippi Alphabet Book,” “N is for Natural State: An Arkansas Alphabet” and “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi: A Mississippi Number Book.”

*APSU alumna Paula Wall was named “Humor Columnist of the Year” by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Her column, “Off the Wall,” was Andrew McNeel Universal's third most popular Web column, after “News of the Weird” and “Dear Abby.” Wall, who lives outside Nashville, is the author of two collections of humorous essays: “My Love Is Free ... But the Rest of Me Don't Come Cheap” and “If I Were a Man, I'd Marry Me.” The last was a best seller and a semifinalist for the Thurber Award. Published by Atria/Simon Schuster, Wall's first novel, “The Rock Orchard,” which was garnering honors before its release in February 2005, takes place in the tobacco-trading town of Leapers Fork, which is based on Clarksville. “The Rock Orchard” was chosen as a “Discover Great New Writers” pick by Barnes & Noble, and Ingram Books named it “A Premier Pick for 2005.”

*Six of nine novels published by best-selling author/screenwriter Steven Womack have received national attention. “Dead Folks' Blues,” his 1994 debut novel, won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Original Paperback Novel. “Dirty Money,” published in February 2000, was nominated for the Shamus Award as Best Original Paperback Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. His 10th novel, “By Blood Written,” was published recently by Severn House. A professor of screenwriting at the Watkins Film School, Nashville, Womack co-wrote the screenplay for “Proudheart,” a made-for-cable movie, as well as the ABC-TV film “Volcano: Fire on the Mountain,” one of the most watched TV movies of the year.

The Riverview Inn in historic Clarksville is offering special $62-per-night rate for conference participants. Breakfast is included. For reservations, telephone toll free 1-877-487-4837.

The Clarksville Writers Conference is limed to 150 participants. Late registration, which began May 2, 2005, for the full conference is $228 per person. Registration for Part I is $74 per person, and Part II registration is $125 per person. The “Meet the Authors Reception and Dinner” is $28 per person.

For more information, contact Patricia Winn at cornelius@midsouth.net.
—Dennie Burke