The Morgan-in-Residence Writer Program and the Department of English helped to bring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker to campus on April 14 for a public lecture. Even the overflow spaces in Hill Hall overflowed as an impressive crowd turned out to hear the writer introduced by Professor Trudier Harris as "woman, mother, novelist, essayist, filmmaker, warrior, womanist, lover of the earth." The Center for the Study of the American South and the Frey Distinguished Visiting Professorship were also sponsors of the event.
Dr. Harris, J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English and Faculty Marshall, presented Walker, saying, "Anyone who has followed Alice Walker's career knows that there is much for which we owe her thanks." In her catalogue of Walker's contributions, Harris noted The Color Purple, the best-selling novel for which Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award. Harris thanked her "for the pain of its creation as well as the conversations it engendered, the conversations that continue into 2004 as a group of English majors watch and discuss the film made from the novel. Its lasting value remains, and we can know its humor as well as its pain."
In addition to the lecture, many of our creative writing students attended an afternoon seminar with Walker and her literary agent, Wendy Weil of New York City. Walker and Weil spoke with students in detail about the author-literary agent relationship and about their history working together. Then they generously fielded student questions.
Walker is internationally honored as an essential writer of our time.In addition to The Color Purple, her novels include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and By the Light of My Father's Smile. Walker's latest novel, Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, was published in April. Her most recent book of poetry is Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems.
The Color Purple, which was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over a year, was made into an internationally popular film by Steven Spielberg. In all, Walker's books have sold over ten million copies and have been translated into over two dozen languages.
The Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program aspires to bring writers to campus who will inspire Carolina's writing students and also provide an opportunity for the community to join in celebrating the literary arts.