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February 2001

Release Date: February 1, 2001

McKnight Headlines Kelton Writing Conference at ASU

Award-winning novelist and short story writer Reginald McKnight will be the featured author at Angelo State University’s Fifth Annual Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton Feb. 22-24 on the ASU campus.

McKnight and other program participants will address the theme of “Cultural Diversity in the Southwest” and give readings from their works. The program will also include “An Evening with Elmer Kelton,” one of the most popular events at the previous four conferences.

In addition to McKnight and Kelton, other featured authors will include Mark Busby, director of the Center for the Study of the Southwest, Southwest Texas State University; novelist Robert Flynn; author and motivational speaker Gregorio Pedroza; and Jill Patterson, associate professor of creative writing at Texas Tech University.

All sessions will be in Room 100 of the Mathematics-Computer Science Building and are open free to the public. The annual writers conference is hosted by the ASU English Department which jointly sponsors the conference with Angelo State University. The conference is funded in part by the Austin Writer’s League in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. Information is available by contacting Dr. Gloria Duarte in the ASU English Department, 942-2320.

McKnight is a Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Maryland in College Park. His novel I Get On the Bus is set in Africa, as is much of his early short fiction. McKnight’s later short stories include works set across the United States. His short story collection The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas includes “A Novel in One Chapter,” a story set in a high school in Texas, a letter to an unnamed friend and a story set in Hell.

He has won several awards, including the O’Henry Award, the Drue Heinz Prize, a Pushcart Prize, two Kenyon Review Awards for Literary Excellence and a Special Citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. At the heart of his stories, and much of McKnight's work, is the plight of the outsider, race, and identity. His nonfiction includes African American Wisdom (1994) and Wisdom of the African World (1996). His next work, the novel He Sleeps, will be published later this year.

The conference program will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, with readings by Pedroza and Patterson. Readings by students are scheduled at 11 a.m. and at 1:45 p.m. A panel discussion on Cultural Diversity in Southwest Fiction will follow at 3:15 p.m. and will feature Busby, Flynn, Kelton, Patterson and Pedroza. After the discussion, panel members will sign their books.

The Thursday evening session scheduled at 7-8 p.m. with Kelton will conclude the first day’s events.

Sessions Friday, Feb. 23, will begin at 9 a.m. with four readings. At an 11 a.m. panel, Busby will speak on “Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth: A Joycean Riff on Race” and Flynn will provide readings of “The Devils Tiger” and “Tie-Fast Country.” Afternoon sessions will begin at 2 p.m. with five readings. At 7-8 p.m. McKnight will give a reading.

Activities will conclude Saturday with a 9 a.m. special session for ASU graduate students and an 11 a.m. discussion with McKnight. These sessions are also open to the public.

Kelton has written more than 40 books, several of which have been recognized for excellence by Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Western Literature Association. The Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) has honored him with the Barbara McCombs/Lon Tinkle Award for Continuing Excellence in Texas Letters. In 1997 he became ASU’s first AEP/West Texas Utilities Distinguished Visiting Professor. His latest book is Badger Boy.

Busby is a professor of English at SWTSU and author of two books of criticism on Larry McMurtry and Ralph Ellison. His first novel, Fort Benning Blues, will be published in spring 2001. Busby is a TIL member and currently serves as its secretary.

Flynn, a native of Chillicothe, Texas, is the author of six novels as well as a two-part documentary, a nonfiction narrative, two story collections, and a collection of essays. His most recent works include Growing Up a Sullen Baptist and Other Essays and a novel, Tie-Fast Country. Flynn received the TIL’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1998.

Pedroza is the author of a collection of short stories, My Family and I, and three children's books, which are in review. He has also produced several audiotapes, including Stories from the Heart/Cuentos con todo Corazón, Celebrating As Hard As We Work and Winsome Winona and Other Alliterative Stories.

Patterson has published short fiction and poetry in Roanoke Review, Southwestern American Literature, Texas Short Stories and Concho River Review. She founded the Iron Horse Literary Review and now serves as its chief editor. Two of her stories have been anthologized in books published by Texas A&M Press and Popular Press.