Athens, Ga. – Two members of the University of Georgia faculty and staff, Judith Ortiz Cofer and Philip Lee Williams, are among the 2010 inductees into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Other inductees are Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson (1886-1966) and Walter Francis White (1893-1955). The 2010 honorees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at its annual forum and awards ceremony, tentatively scheduled to take place at UGA’s Miller Learning Center March 22-23.
The UGA Libraries established the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame to recognize Georgia writers, past and present, whose work reflects the character of the state-its land and its people. Although there are a few award programs in the state that recognize specific books, the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is the first to honor Georgia writers for their overall contributions to culture.
Judith Ortiz Cofer was born in 1952 in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico.She was raised between Puerto Rico and Paterson, New Jersey, before moving with her family to Augusta when she was fifteen years old.Ortiz Cofer was a published poet before her major work of prose, The Line of the Sun (1989), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.Much of her work is centered on the lives of Puerto Rican young people who move between cultures.She is accomplished as a prose writer, poet and essayist.She received the 1991 PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation in Nonfiction and was awarded a Pushcart Prize.She joined the faculty of the University of Georgia in 1984 where she is now Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing.
“Itis a great honor to be inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. I have lived, taught, and written in Georgia longer than anywhere else, and being included among Georgia writersis a confirmationthat I am nowhome,” said Cofer.
Philip Lee Williams is the author of 10 published novels, three books of creative non-fiction and a volume of poetry. He was born in 1950 in Madison, Ga., and following a career as a journalist has worked at the University of Georgia since 1985. He is currently assistant dean for public information in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He is a winner of a Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities and is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Michael Shaara Prize for the best novel on the Civil War published in the U.S. for his novel A Distant Flame (2004). He is also a winner of the Townsend Prize for his first novel, The Heart of a Distant Forest and has twice been named Georgia Author of the Year. Williams has written on many themes, but the natural world and issues of aging have been frequent topics. His latest novel, just out, is called The Campfire Boys and is about camp entertainers during the American Civil War. Williams will publish an epic poem called The Flower Seeker, about 18th century naturalist William Bartram, in the fall of 2010.
“I’m naturally honored and delighted to be selected for the Hall of Fame,” said Williams. “I’m grateful to the judges for their support.”
Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson was a poet, playwright, and an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance.She was raised in Atlanta and graduated from Atlanta University Normal College 1896.Johnson spent the last fifty years of her life in Washington, D.C., where she hosted a Saturday evening open house that came to be known as the S Street Salon.Attendees included Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.Johnson received an honorary doctorate in literature from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1965.
Walter Francis White was a journalist, novelist, essayist and civic leader influential in the Harlem Renaissance.White authored six books, perhaps the most well known among them A Man Called White (1948), a memoir about his life as a man of mixed race who was raised in the African-American community but had blonde hair and blue eyes.He joined the national staff of the NAACP at the request of James Weldon Johnson and succeeded Johnson at the helm of the organization in 1931.Under his leadership the NAACP quintupled in size, and White was largely responsible for setting up the organization’s Legal Defense Fund.
Additional information on the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame is available at http://www.libs.uga.edu/gawriters/index.html.