Yes, April showers have brought flowers

Published 1:17 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw the Cherokee rose, trailing over the shrubs at Covington Hall.

Along the road by which my little cottage sits, I saw in the April sunshine, primroses, daisy fleabane, verbena, and patches of clover, crimson, Dutch white, and rabbit yellow. It was a beautiful day. How different was the weather from the week before when thunderstorms rumbled through Alabama; and March, most decidedly, went out like a lion. April showers brought the flowers.

Once a year the Alabama Writers Symposium meets at Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville, sponsored by ASCC and the Alabama Center for Literary Arts. I attended March 31 and April 1, the nineteenth symposium in the “Literary Capital of Alabama,”as Monroeville has dubbed itself.

I stayed in the Best Western and ate twice at David’s, the original one.

The two days were filled with talks by Alabama writers, each of whom spoke for about thirty minutes, then opened his session for questions.

The symposium theme was “the Elephant in the Room,” a subject one cannot avoid seeing and discussing, which most of the speakers pinpointed as race.

A choir of girls, called Expose, opened the first session with several songs.

Alisha Linam, new director of the Alabama Center for Literary Arts, organized the symposium, assisted by Donna Reed.

Speakers March 31 were Chervis Isom (a Birmingham attorney and old friend), Jennifer Horne, William Cobb (known for his humor), Dr. Dan Puckett, Kirk Curnutt, C. J. Watson, and Poarch Creek Indians. The sessions were staged in the Nettles Auditorium.

The sessions ended with recitations of original (mainly) poetry by a group from Mobile called PowerLines.

An awards banquet was staged Thursday night in the Vanity Fair Golf and Tennis Club.

The 2016 Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer went to Dr. Edward O. Wilson, professor emeritus of Harvard University, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, and author of 31 books.

The Harper Lee Award was named for Monroeville’s most famous author, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. Miss Lee died recently at the age of 89.

The 2016 Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar went to Frye Gaillard, writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama, co-writer of Nashville songs, and author of 20 books.

The Current-Garcia Award is named for Dr. Eugene Current-Garcia, a scholar and author at Auburn.

At the banquet Dr. Roger Chandler, president of ASCC, announced that ASCC was soon to be combined with Faulkner State CC and with Jefferson Davis CC in Brewton, under a new name.

Opening remarks at the banquet were made by Mary Tucker, mother of the columnist, Cynthia Tucker.

ASCC provided transportation from the local motels to the banquet. On the bus I rode with two sisters, with whom I had made friends, both retired librarians, Lucinda Beddow from Decatur, and Jane May, from Nashville. Lucinda knew the late Miss Sandra King, librarian at Lurleen B. Wallace, and Dr. Marilyn Beck, who has retired to Andalusia.

Also on the bus was Gerald Dowling, a friend from former symposiums.

At my banquet table I sat with Jacque Stone, a retired English teacher at W. S. Neal Middle School in Brewton;

Ann Biggs-Willliams, retired librarian at Jefferson Davis CC in Brewton; and Susan Blair of Brooklyn, a retired English teacher at Jefferson State CC.

April 1 brought with it sessions at the old Monroe County Courthouse by Frye Gaillard, Kim Cross, Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Dr. Wayne Flynt (whom I’ve known since my days at Samford), Nancy Anderson, Greg Neri, Marianne (Moates) Weber (an Andalusian and author of Capote’s youth; I enjoyed a long conversation with her husband Al), and Don Noble, ending with the presentation of the very first Truman Capote Award for distinguished work in literary non-fiction or short story, which went to Marlin Barton. The Capote Award was a crystal paperweight because Capote had collected paperweights.

The setting for the sessions April 1 was the courtroom used for the trial in “Mockingbird.”

A barbecue lunch was spread on the grounds of the courthouse half way through the sessions. A tent protected attendees from the rainy skies.

A short play by Capote was presented at the very end for fun.

Once again, I ask the citizens of Andalusia to join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 to help preserve the history of our county, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to P.O. Box 1582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420.

The mysterian has three legs.

Recent birthdays are those of Washington Irving, American writer of “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; and William Wordsworth, English poet.

Now, Gentle Reader, allow me to join Buffalo Bob Smith in encouraging each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing.

Fare thee well.