Three writers whose works examine the conflicts that have shaped the South and a beloved songwriter who wrote the soundtrack to post-World War II America will be honored at the 2011 Georgia Writers Hall of Fame ceremony.
Melissa Faye Greene and Natasha Trethewey, along with posthumous honorees James Kilgo and Johnny Mercer, will be inducted in a ceremony to be held next spring. The four were selected March 24 by the GWHF board of judges.
“The 2011 class of inductees into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is exemplary,” said P. Toby Graham, director of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library and deputy university librarian. “These Georgians have enriched our lives and serve as a source of pride for our state. The Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is honored to celebrate their literary and creative contributions.”
The UGA Libraries established the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2000 to recognize Georgia writers. It is housed in the Hargrett Library.
Greene’s award-winning books Praying for Sheetrock and The Temple Bombing chronicle dramatic episodes in the civil rights movement in Georgia. Focusing on individuals who played important roles in these events, Greene vividly illuminates issues and conflicts that shaped the state in the latter half of the 20th century.
Trethewey, an English professor at Emory University, won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2007 for her collection Native Guard (2006). She earned her bachelor’s degree at UGA in 1989, and in 1991 she earned a master’s degree in English and creative writing at Hollins College (later Hollins University) in Roanoke, Va.
In 1967 Kilgo joined the UGA faculty, where he received five Outstanding Honors Professor awards and the Honoratus Award for Excellence in Teaching. He directed the creative writing program from 1994 to 1996 and retired in 1999. Kilgo battled cancer for more than 10 years and died in 2002.
Born into the fourth generation of Mercers living in Savannah, John Herndon Mercer was one of America’s most popular and successful songwriters in the 20th century. Between 1929 and 1976 he penned lyrics to more than 1,000 songs, received 19 Academy Award nominations, wrote music for a number of Broadway shows and cofounded Capitol Records. Perhaps best known for the 1961 Academy Award–winning song “Moon River,” Mercer also took Oscars for “Days of Wine and Roses,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”
Biographical information for this article comes from the New Georgia Encyclopedia (www.georgiaencyclopedia.org), which is housed at the UGA Libraries.