Southern Literary Festival Contest Recognizes Rhodes Writers


Publication Date: 5/1/2009

Two Rhodes students, Jessica Comola ’10 and Kelly Coney ’10, were recently recognized in the literary contest affiliated with the 2009 Southern Literary Festival hosted by Millsaps College.

Coney’s paper “Barrett′s Boon: Will Barrett′s Hero′s Quest for Moral Identity in Walker Percy′s The Last Gentleman” won first place in the formal essay category of the contest, and Comola’s poem “In June Jo and I Always Caught the Chicks” won third place in the poetry category. Comola is an English major from Austin, Texas, and Coney is a psychology major from Bartlett, Tenn.

Comela and Coney were invited to read their winning entries during the conference.  Earlier this semester, Professors Tina Barr and Marshall Boswell in the Department of English at Rhodes encouraged the two students to submit their work to the festival’s accompanying writing contest.

This year’s Southern Literary Festival commemorated the 100th  anniversary of Eudora Welty’s birth. Three generations of distinguished writers who were inspired by Welty gave readings from their own work and served on panels about Welty and about the craft of writing.
Coney says she was “lucky to meet with Richard Ford briefly and talk a little about his friendship with Percy,” the author of The Last Gentleman, the novel on which her prize-winning essay is based.  “Even though I′m not an English major, I′m a fan of literature, so it was great being able to meet authors, both professional and amateur,” she says.
Other writers who attended the festival included Elizabeth Spencer, Alfred Uhry, Ann Patchett, and James Kimbrell. For the past 75 years, a consortium of two-dozen colleges and universities has sponsored the festival and accompanying writing competition. The festival location rotates from one college to another each year.  Rhodes hosted the event in 2007.