Songwriter, Writer and Poet to Speak at 40th Annual Writers’ Festival

Monday, March 21, 2011

Agnes Scott College will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its annual Writers’ Festival (March 31 – April 1) with the help of speakers Jennifer Nettles, a songwriter and one half of the Grammy-winning country duo Sugarland; Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia; and Arda Collins, an accomplished young poet.
Danzy Senna
Held annually since 1972, Agnes Scott’s Writers’ Festival brings nationally acclaimed writers to campus in an atmosphere of community with student writers from the colleges and universities of Georgia. While on campus, distinguished guests give public readings, award prizes in the festival’s statewide literary competition and conduct workshops for finalists in the competition.

Past visiting writers to the festival include Eudora Welty, Julia Alvarez, John Updike, Margaret Atwood, James Dickey, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, Jane Smiley, Michael S. Harper and Marsha Norman ’69x, H’05.

Each year, student writers from Georgia colleges and universities submit their fiction, poetry, personal essays and one-act plays to the Writers’ Festival contest. This year, a songwriting contest was added to the festival in honor of Nettles. Agnes Scott publishes the finalists’ works in the festival magazine and the visiting writers award prizes for the best work in each category. All finalists attend a workshop with one of the visiting writers.Jennifer Nettles '97

A Georgia native and 1997 graduate of Agnes Scott College, Nettles is an award winning songwriter and the lead vocalist for the duo Sugarland. Her feisty songs focus on breaking through barriers, taking risks, seizing opportunities and refusing to settle for less than one’s dreams. Before forming Sugarland, Nettles appeared with Soul Miner’s Daughter and the Jennifer Nettles Band and performed frequently at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. Nettles’ many prizes include a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Song for “Stay.” She has also recorded a No. 1 hit with Bon Jovi, performed at the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009 and participated in the new recording of “We Are the World” to benefit Haiti in 2010.

Senna is the bestselling author of the novels Caucasia and Symptomatic and the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History. Her debut novel Caucasia, the story of two biracial sisters growing up in racially charged Boston during the 1970s, was the winner of the BOMC Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Alex Award from the American Library Association and The Los Angeles Times’ Best Book of the Year Prize. Her memoir explores the forces of history at work in the power and failure of her parents’ unlikely union. Senna lives in Los Angeles.

Arda CollinsCollins's collection of poems, It Is Daylight, won the 2008 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Judge Louise Gluck describes the volume as “a book of astonishing originality and intensity, unprecedented, unrepeatable.” Her poems have recently appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review and A Public Space. A former Glenn Schaeffer Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in poetry at the University of Denver.

Scheduled 2011 Writers’ Festival events are free (call for tickets – 404-471-6430) and open to the public including:

Reading by Danzy Senna
Thursday March 31, 4 p.m.
Dana Fine Arts Building, Winter Theatre
Book signing and reception will follow the reading.

Reading and performance by Jennifer Nettles
Thursday March 31, 8 p.m.
Presser Hall, Gaines Chapel.
The event is free but tickets are required.

Reading by Arda Collins
Friday April 1, 2 p.m.
Dana Fine Arts Building, Winter Theatre

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.