National Book Award winner reads at UM

A National Book Award winner will help young University of Montevallo writers improve their work this weekend, thanks to help from Southern Progress Corporation.

Ellen Gilchrist, whose short-story collection Victory over Japan, won the National Book Award in 1984, will offer the first Southern Progress Keynote Reading at the 2007 Montevallo Literary Festival.

The festival will take place this April 13-14, with most events scheduled in Comer Hall, on the University of Montevallo campus. Gilchrist will read Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m., in UM&8217;s Carmichael Library.

Gilchrist has spent considerable time in northern Alabama, so much so that she considers the state to be &8220;home ground.&8221;

&8220;She was very excited about the idea of returning,&8221; said Alan May, a festival board member.

Festival organizers say Southern Progress was instrumental in securing Gilchrist&8217;s visit to campus.

&8220;We&8217;ve been fortunate to have the support of the community ever since we started five years ago,&8221; said festival director Jim Murphy. &8220;This year, thanks to Southern Progress, we&8217;ve been able to put the final pieces of the funding puzzle together to bring in a National Book Award winner.&8221;

In addition to Gilchrist, this spring&8217;s festival will include readings, workshops and panels with writers and editors from across the country. Authors scheduled to lead workshops include:

-Poetry: Catherine Bowman of Indiana University

-Fiction Writing: John Dufresne of Florida International University

-Playwriting: John O&8217;Keefe of the San Francisco Bay-area

Montevallo President Philip Williams and his wife, Sandra, are also scheduled to appear. &8220;We&8217;re delighted that Phil and Sandra will be joining -s to discuss the children&8217;s books they&8217;ve co-authored,&8221; said Lee Rozelle, assistant director.

All readings are open to the public. For a complete schedule, visit