Sowell Conference goes virtual: 2020 reading series to highlight three authors

In lieu of the annual Conference on the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World, the Collection will host a series of virtual readings and discussions. The series, “Memoir: Memory and Landscape, Memory and Family, Memory and Love,” will showcase three writers whose papers are in or whose work is connected to the Sowell Collection: Debra Gwartney, J. Drew Lanham and Howard Norman.

Tuesday, Sept. 22 – 7 p.m.

Howard Norman
is author of more than a dozen books, including two memoirs, “In Fond Remembrance of Me” (2005) and “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” (2013), which will be featured in the reading. Norman has been awarded three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He won the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction and was twice nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction. For 31 years he taught in the MFA program at the University of Maryland and served on the faculty of the Summer Writers Institute, Skidmore College.

Tuesday, Oct. 20 – 7 p.m.

Writer, editor and teacher Debra Gwartney is the author of two memoirs. “Live Through This” (2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award and the Oregon Book Awards. “I am a Stranger Here Myself” (2019), to be featured in the reading, was published by University of New Mexico Press as part of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize series. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Granta, American Scholar, Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review and the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column. With Barry Lopez she edited “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape” (2006). She is a contributing editor at Poets & Writers and teaches in the MFA Program at Pacific University.

Tuesday, Nov. 17 – 7 p.m.

A native of Edgefield and Aiken, South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham is author of “The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature” (2016), to be featured in the reading and which won the Southern Book Prize, the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. His work has appeared in Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher and Wilderness. A birder, naturalist and hunter-conservationist, Lanham is the Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University.

To register, email You will receive a link to join the online readings.

The virtual event is sponsored by the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, he Honors College and Livable Futures.


Julie Barnett