Gaines Center On the Move
Over three days in February, Matthew Teutsch, Gaines Center graduate assistant, spent time touring Northeast Louisiana to speak on the Ernest J. Gaines Center. During his trip, he gave presentations at Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), and at schools and the public library in Union Parish. The purpose of the trip was twofold. One, it served to introduce scholars at the Louisiana Tech and ULM to the materials that are housed in the Center. Two, the talks provided an opportunity to present the importance of Gaines’ work in relation to Louisiana to university students and faculty, high school students and faculty, and to the general public.
Matthew’s presentation provided audiences with a glimpse into the materials housed within the center, specifically hand written correspondence between authors such as James Baldwin and Gaines, drafts of public speeches by Gaines, and most importantly drafts of Gaines manuscripts. The talks showed the wide array of archival materials that the Center has to offer and expounded upon the benefits of these materials to future research on Gaines’ writing. Along with displaying the materials housed in the Center, Matthew provided audiences with the importance of Gaines’ writing to Louisiana. He highlighted the real world effects of Gaines’ work by discussing the effort to save Miss Jane’s Tree in 2008 and the construction of a water fountain dedicated to Miss Jane Pittman in Rochester, New York.
Ernest J. Gaines Center Young Writers Apprentice Program Complete
For five consecutive Saturdays between February 23 and March 23, twelve area high school students attended the inaugural Ernest J. Gaines Center Young Writers Program. University of Louisiana creative writing faculty and community members, some of whom took Dr. Gaines’ workshops at UL, served as program facilitators working with students on creative writing. At the last meeting, Dr. Gaines attended and students had the opportunity to discuss writing with and ask questions. Due to the success of the inaugural course, the Center plans to do the program again next year.
Stephanie Powell Watts Wins 6th Annual Ernest J. Gaines Literary Award
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has named author Stephanie Powell Watts winner of the 2012 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her book "We Are Taking Only What We Need." The award will be presented to Watts on Jan. 18, 2013, at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. The ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. followed by a reception catered by Mansurs. Both events are free and open to the public, though seating is limited and reservations are required for this cocktail-attire event. To RSVP, contact Jessica Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org or (225) 387-6126.
Foundation donors created the Gaines Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, to honor outstanding work from rising African-American authors while recognizing Gaines' extraordinary contribution to the literary world. Published by BkMk Press, "We Are Taking Only What We Need" is a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of African-Americans in rural North Carolina. The book is Watts' first and was named a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the John Gardner Fiction Award, the USA Book News Award and the ForeWord Reviews Award.
"Stephanie is a superb author. Her debut work is a vivid depiction of life for black Americans in the rural South," Gaines says. "She has a bright literary future ahead of her, and I'm going to love watching her grow as a writer." Born in Lenoir, N.C., Watts is a faculty member at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.
Judges for the 2012 Gaines Award were: Thomas Beller, award-winning author and professor of creative writing at Tulane University; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; Phillip Lopate, author and recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including "Blue Angel," a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O: The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.
Past winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Dinaw Mengestu for "How to Read the Air," Victor LaValle for "Big Machine," Jeffrey Allen for "Holding Pattern: Stories," Ravi Howard for "Like Trees Walking," and Olympia Vernon for "A Killing in this Town." For more information, visit BRAF.org
New Book by University Press of Mississippi Press features interview of Ernest GainesUniversity Press of Mississippi has released Personal Souths: Interviews from the Southern Quarterly (July 2012), which includes a 2006 interview with Ernest J. Gaines, "The Scribe of River Lake Plantation: A Conversation with Ernest J. Gaines." by Dr. Anne Gray Brown. The interview is the only one in the 50-year publishing history of Southern Quarterly featuring an African American writer. The interview is one of 20 included in the book. The collection of interviews is in celebration of the journal's 50-year publishing history (1962-2012). The original interview appeared in the fall 2006 issue of Southern Quarterly. For more information about this book, please visit University of Mississippi Press.
Donation to Ernest J. Gaines Center Honors Two Professors
The Ernest J. Gaines Center, University of Louisiana at Lafayette recently received a collection of over 1,000 books. The books belonged to English Professor Emerita Dr. Patricia Rickels who died in 2009 and History Professor Bradley Pollock who also died in 2009. These books will provide a large collection of materials relating to African American literature, history, sociology and many more disciplines. The donation will add to the existing resources located in the Edith Garland Dupré Library. This donation was made through the generosity of James D. Wilson, Assistant Director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and UL Press, and Dr. Julia Frederick, Director of UL's Honors Program.
The donated collection includes a first edition of Native Son by Richard Wright and many other unique monographs. Gaines Center Director Marcia Gaudet stated, “This generous donation of books related to African American studies helps the center to fulfill its mission and honors the memory of two former colleagues who contributed so much to African American studies at UL Lafayette.”
Dr. Rickels taught at UL Lafayette for 50 years, from 1957 to 2007, and was one of the most influential and beloved figures in the history of the university. Dr. Pat, as she was known to thousands of students, was a gifted and inspiring teacher, at all levels of instruction. In the UL community, she was best known as the longtime Director of the Honors Program (1979-2007), which she co-founded in 1970. She pioneered courses in folklore and African American literature in the UL English Department and was an accomplished scholar in these areas.
Professor Pollock was a kind, gentle, and thoughtful colleague and friend who played a vital role in the Department of History and Geography. He joined the faculty in 1984, and became a fixture at the university, teaching a range of important classes in U.S., African, African American, and Global History. From the time of his M.A. thesis on W.E.B. Dubois and the Dilemma of the Racial Dialect, Professor Pollock dedicated his professional career to the discussion and consideration of minority affairs and the importance of African American culture in the U.S.
Archivist and Assistant Director of the Gaines Center, Derek Mosley, stated “This donation gives the center a chance to be one of the only places in southwest Louisiana with such a vast and wide ranging focus on the African American experience. The center embraces the charge to preserve and provide access to this one of a kind collection.”
Ernest J. Gaines Awarded Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature by Mercer Univ.
For more information on the award: http://www.mercer.edu/SST/lanier.html
“This Louisiana Thing That Drives Me”: the Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines
Published by UL Lafayette Press in 2009, this title is a book in pictures and words that includes an introduction by Ernest J. Gaines, an original poem by Wendell Berry, and short essays by Reggie Scott Young, Marcia Gaudet, and Wiley Cash. The book uses photographs and quotations from Gaines’s fiction and essays to create a narrative of the land and people who inspired him, the literature he produced, and his legacy. All royalties from the book will go to the Ernest J. Gaines Center. In addition, there will a special limited edition of the book for Founding Patrons of the Gaines Center.
Ernest J. Gaines Awarded Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement
Ernest Gaines was awarded the 2011 Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Fellowship of Southern Writers. The medal was presented to Gaines at the Conference on Southern Literature in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 16. The Cleanth Brooks Medal is awarded biennially.
Ernest J. Gaines Receives Honorary Doctorate from University of North Carolina
Ernest Gaines was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of North Carolina at the Spring Commencement ceremonies on May 8, 2011, in Chapel Hill. The UNC-Chapel Hill website refers to Gaines as “one of the premier American writers of the second half of the 20th century.”
The Publications Committee of the Modern Language Association has approved development of several new titles, including Approaches to Teaching Gaines's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Other Works, edited by Dr. John Lowe, Professor of English and Comparative Literature & Director of the Program in Louisiana and Caribbean Studies, Louisiana State University. More information forthcoming.
For more information about the Ernest J. Gaines Center please call 337-482-1848. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for the Gaines Center, please e-mail your address to us at: email@example.com.