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FMU to hold Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, Nov. 5-7


FLORENCE, S.C. – For those looking to get in a bind, the book festival held annually at Francis Marion University is the place to be. Four nationally known and bestselling authors and poets and their avid readers will descend upon the university Nov. 5-7 at the fourth annual Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, which is free and open to the public. 

The three-day festival will celebrate and promote literature and reading with renowned authors Dorothy Allison, Joseph Millar, Jayne Anne Phillips and Natasha Trethewey. There will be readings, lectures and panel discussions with programs for mature audiences. A number of fiction topics will be covered and opportunities for book signings. In addition, attendees can see screenings of films, Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller, based on novels by Allison. 

“The event will offer dynamic and personal interactions between readers and authors as they share the joy of reading,” said FMU English Professor Ed Eleazer who is organizer of the event along with a committee consisting of a number of faculty members from the English Department.


About the authors (photos available upon request):

A Greenville native, Dorothy Allison is a prolific writer. Her novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, which has a strong and public autobiographical element, was published in 1992 and was an immediate success. It was a National Book Award finalist, received much positive criticism and became a national bestseller. Angelica Houston made the book into a movie. Allison’s second novel, Cavedweller (1998), also received critical acclaim and was made into a feature film. 

Allison began writing seriously in the early 1980s. She published poetry and short stories, many of which dealt with sexuality and sometimes-shocking issues of abuse. Her 1983 poetry collection, The Women Who Hate Me, angered mainstream feminists in its praise of sexual promiscuity and sadomasochism. Despite the controversy her work generated, she has established herself as a writer. Her success was solidified when her 1989 short story collection, Trash, won the Lambda Literary awards for best small press book and best lesbian book. 

She has also written a collection of essays entitled, Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature (1994) and Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995), a memoir of her family that included photographs. Allison currently lives with her partner and their adopted son in California.


Joseph Millar is an American poet. He was raised in Pennsylvania. After spending most of his adult life in the San Francisco area working as a telephone installation foreman and commercial fisherman, he decided to try his hand at teaching, and eventually writing. 

His writing includes two books of poetry, Overtime (2001), a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and Fortune (2006), as well as two chapbooks, “Slow Dancer”, Cherry Valley Editions, 1992, and “Nightbound”, Idaho Review Press, 2009. His work has appeared in many magazines and journals, including The Alaska Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, New Letters and Shenandoah

In 2002, Millar was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2008 his work won a Pushcart Prize. He has also been the recipient of grants from the Montalvo Center for the Arts and from Oregon Literary Arts. 

Millar received the master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1970. He has taught at Mount Hood Community College, the Vancouver School of Arts, Oregon State University, and now teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Pacific University. He is married to poet Dorianne Laux; they live in Raleigh, N.C.


Jayne Anne Phillips was born and raised in West Virginia. Her first book of stories, Black Tickets, published in 1979, won the prestigious Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction awarded by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. 

Machine Dreams, her first novel, published in 1984, observes one American family from the turn of the century through the Vietnam War. A New York Times best seller, Machine Dreams was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of 12 Best Books of the Year. 

Her book of stories, Fast Lanes (1987), was praised in the LA Times as “stories that hover on the edge of poetry.” Shelter, her 1994 novel, a haunting, suspenseful evocation of childhood rite-of-passage, was awarded an Academy Award in Literature and chosen one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Her triumphant new novel, MotherKind, published by Knopf in May, 2000, examines timeless questions of birth and death.


Poet Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Miss. Her first poetry collection, Domestic Work (2000), won the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem poetry prize (selected by Rita Dove), a 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Her second collection, Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), received the 2003 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, was a finalist for both the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin and Lenore Marshall prizes, and was named a 2003 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her most recent collection is Native Guard (2006), for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Her work has appeared in several volumes of Best American Poetry, and in journals such as Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review and The Southern Review, among others. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia, the master’s in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and the Master of Fine Arts in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Last Published: November 9, 2009 10:43 AM
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