Madge McKeithen

The 25th Southern Writers Symposium, “Celebrating Emerging Writers: A Weekend of Readings, Panels, and Workshops,” will take place on the campus of Methodist University Oct. 23-24. 

The 25th Southern Writers Symposium, “Celebrating Emerging Writers: A Weekend of Readings, Panels, and Workshops,” will take place on the campus of Methodist University Oct. 23-24. The event is open to the public, but registration is required. MU students, faculty, and staff can attend at no cost, or for $10 if they also attend the lunch on Saturday. The cost for all others to register is $50.

“This year’s Southern Writers Symposium will feature some fine writers and great workshops,” said Brenda Jernigan, director of the Southern Writers Symposium. “We are also excited to have a variety of voices featured at this year’s Symposium. Southern literature often centers around voice, and we want to have as many voices represented as possible.”

The Symposium will begin Friday, Oct. 23, with on-site registration at 3 p.m. in the Union-Zukowski Lobby and Gallery in the John M. Reeves Fine Arts Building. Afternoon readings and workshops begin at 3:30. An introduction of the Emerging Writers Poetry Contest winners will take place at 7 p.m., followed by a reading by Madge McKeithen entitled, “Art and Writing: The Evocative Nature of Imagery and Place.”

Photographer Bryce Lankard will also be on hand to answer questions about his exhibit that marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. “Land of Dreams” is a 20-year documentary project of life in New Orleans and the Gulf South before the hurricane, currently displayed in the Union-Zukowski Lobby.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, on-site registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Medical Lecture Hall foyer. Book sales will be available 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., with authors on hand to sign purchased copies. Panels, workshops, and readings will take place at 9:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. At 11:45 a.m., participants will gather in the Alumni Dining Room in the Berns Student Center for lunch and to listen to keynote speaker Nathan Poole, author of “Father Brother Keeper” and winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. Following the reading, the 2015 Emerging Writers Short Story Contest Winners will be recognized.

The Southern Writers Symposium began in 1981 with the world premiere of the musical “Raft on the River,” based on the novel “Huckleberry Finn,” at Methodist College. Since then, the symposium has featured a variety of themes, including “The Idea of Home in Southern Literature,” “Southern Literature to 1900,” and “History in/and/of Southern Literature.”

For more information on this event or to register, visit

About the Speakers

Madge McKeithen (pictured) grew up in eastern North Carolina before attending the College of William and Mary, and later, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her first book, “Blue Peninsula,” was published in 2006 and tells of McKeithen’s turn to poetry in the wake of her son’s undiagnosed degenerative neurological disorder. In 2011, her essay “What Really Happened” appeared in “Best American Essays.” McKeithen is currently at work on a collection of essays about her father and home.

Nathan Poole is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program for writers at Warren Wilson College. His story “Stretch Out Your Hand” won first place in “Narrative’s” Fall 2011 Story Contest and received the Narrative Prize in 2012. His stories have appeared in “The Kenyon Review,” “The Sun,” “The Saturday Evening Post,” and others. His novella, “Pathkiller as the Holy Ghost,” was awarded the 2014 Quarterly West novella prize and was published by “Quarterly West.” Poole’s story collection, “Father Brother Keeper,” was named the 2013 winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.

Photographer Bryce Lankard is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1995, he co-founded “Tribe Magazine” in New Orleans, and served as creative director. After living in New York for nine years, Lankard returned to New Orleans in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, and co-founded the nonprofit New Orleans Photos Alliance. Since returning to North Carolina in 2009, he has taught at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C., and developed FRANK: In Focus Photography Festival.