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January 2004

Release Date: January 22, 2004

Author of 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' to Headline 2004 Kelton Writers Conference

Novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director Peter Hedges, whose first novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape was the basis of the movie by the same name, will highlight the Eighth Annual Angelo State University Writers Conference in honor of Elmer Kelton Feb. 26-28.

Hedges will be joined by featured speakers Terry Dalrymple, Wendy Barker and R.S. Gwynn as well as some 25 other writers joining together in a celebration of the written word and literature. All events are open free to the public. All programs will be in the in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in the Houston Harte University Center except for Hedges' featured Friday evening speech in the University Auditorium.

Hedges will talk during an hour-long interview at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 26 to be followed at 6 p.m. by a showing of one of his films in the Davidson Conference Center. He will deliver the featured address at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the University Auditorium. A reception and book signing will follow. His books will be available for purchase at the signing.

In 1998 Hyperion Press released Hedges second novel, An Ocean in Iowa. His novels have now been published in 15 fifteen languages. In addition to writing novels, he also produces screenplays. His screenplay adaptations include Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World and Nick Hornby's About a Boy, which received nominations for outstanding screenwriting from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which annually presents the Oscar Award. Most recently, Hedges adapted Lauren Weissberger's The Devil Wears Prada for the screen.

With Pieces of April, Hedges made his film-directing debut last year and was designated one of the "10 Directors to Watch" for 2003 by Variety magazine. Pieces of April has received multiple honors by film critics this year and will be at San Angelo theaters during Hedges' visit to the writers conference.

A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, he founded the Edge Theater in 1985, along with Mary-Louise Parker and Joe Mantello. Over a three-year period, he wrote and directed 12 works for the company. Hedges' other plays include Baby Anger, Good as New and Imagining Brad. All three have been published by Dramatists Play Service.

He has taught at Bennington College, North Carolina School of the Arts and Northwestern University's National High School Institute. He has served as a creative adviser to the Sundance Screenwriters' Lab and has been awarded writing/teaching residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Millay Colony.

Hedges grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa. He now lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Susan Bruce, and their two children, Simon and Lucas.

Featured writers Dalrymple and Gwynn will open the conference with a presentation at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 26. Barker will speak at 9 a.m. on Feb. 27. Other participating writers include Betty Shiflett, Amy Durham, Gregorio Pedroza, Andrew Geyer, Morgan O'Donnell, Clarence Wolfshohl, Connie Williams, Diane Warner, Caleb Puckett, Joan Upton Hall, David Breeden, Denzel Thomas, Jim Sanderson, Larry Thomas, Carol Coffee Reposa, John Graves Morris, Jerry Bradley, Steven Schroeder, Glenn Dayley, Terri Tucker, Justin Dimos, Fran Samuelson, Malek H. Mohammad, Daniel S. Kerr, Betty Smith Sparks and Steve Weathers.

Dalrymple, the John S. Cargile Professor in English at ASU, has published numerous short stories, articles and reviews in periodicals such as Modern Short Stories, Cimarron Review, American Literary Review, Short Story, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. His stories have appeared in the anthologies New Growth 2 and Texas Short Stories. He is also the author of Fishing for Trouble, a novel for middle readers. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) and founder of the literary journal Concho River Review.

Barker is a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her most recent book is Poems' Progress, a selection of poems with accompanying autobiographical essays. Her third collection of poetry, Way of Whiteness, won the Violet Crown Book Award, and her translation with Saranindranath Tagore of Rabindranath Tagore: Final Poems received the TIL's Sourette Diehl Fraser Award for Translation. She has published more than 250 poems and authored and co-edited two books. She has received NEA and Rockefeller residency fellowships. She was a Fulbright senior lecturer to Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2000.

Gwynn is a professor of English at Lamar University. His first collection of poetry, Bearing and Distance, appeared in 1977. His 1986 book of poems The Drive-In won the Breakthrough Award from the University of Missouri Press. No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000 appeared from Story Line Press in 2001, and his poems appear in many anthologies, including Twentieth-Century American Poetry. In 2001, his poems were featured online at Poetry Daily and PoetryNet. His poems have twice been read by Garrison Keillor on NPR's The Writer's Almanac. He has edited numerous anthologies and has spoken at over 100 universities.

The conference is hosted by the ASU English Department and sponsored by ASU in Cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Writers' League of Texas with donations from College Bookstores of America, ASU Alumni Association and Guy and Eva Choate.

For more information, call John Wegner at (325) 942-2281, Ext. 223.