Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Eight Portraits of Southern Women: A Photo Essay

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Eight Portraits of Southern Women: A Photo Essay

Article excerpt

Dedicated to Carolyn Vance Smith

Carolyn Vance Smith embodies the belief of Irish poet William Butler Yeats that "If you dream a dream long enough, you create the reality." Smith's dream was to transform our understanding of Natchez, of Mississippi, and of the American South through her annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. She has nurtured this now legendary conference for twenty-five years. From the beginning, she boldly reached out to writers, filmmakers, and artists throughout the world who have ties to the South. From Paris, Julia Wright came to celebrate the birthplace of her father Richard Wright. From Hollywood, Billy Bob Thornton came to receive the Horton Foote Award. Traveling from his home in Wharton, Texas, Horton Foote, too, was recognized for his distinguished career as a screenwriter. Literary giants Margaret Walker Alexander, Maya Angelou, Ellen Douglas, Ernest Gaines, Nikki Giovanni, Willie Morris, Elizabeth Spencer, William Styron, and Eudora Welty have all spoken at the conference.

Carolyn Smith created an annual literary salon that has drawn luminaries to Natchez year after year. Her celebrated conference has brought international recognition to Natchez and to Copiah-Lincoln College, Smith's academic home. With limited financial resources, she reached out to Mississippi political leaders like Governor William Winter and Senator Thad Cochran, and to academic leaders Jerry Ward, David Sansing, John Blassingame, and Michael Wayne. …

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