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Author Pat Conroy to participate in Mary Hood Conference at UNG

The University of North Georgia literary conference featuring Mary Hood, Pat Conroy and Philip Lee Williams, scheduled for Oct. 4 and 5 on the university's Gainesville Campus, HAS BEEN CANCELLED. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to schedule a similar event in the future.

Pat Conroy, an Atlanta native and the New York Times best-selling author of "The Prince of Tides," "The Lords of Discipline" and other novels, will give a reading and attend a literary conference honoring the fiction and achievement of Mary Hood, one of Georgia's most prestigious authors. The conference will be held Oct. 5 on the Gainesville Campus of the University of North Georgia. On Oct. 4, Conroy, Hood, and novelist Philip Lee Williams will give readings that are free and open to the public.

"As far as I know, Mary Hood has never written an uninteresting sentence in her life, and I've read and loved everything she's ever written," Conroy said. "In the immaculate work of Hood, I've always found her choice of subjects both offbeat and surprising. This conference in Mary Hood's honor will be a celebration of her splendid and ongoing career, and there is nowhere I would rather be than reveling with her throngs of admirers and literary disciples as we laud a most magnificent writer."

Two of Conroy's novels have been made into Oscar-nominated movies: "The Prince of Tides" directed by and starring Barbra Streisand and acclaimed actor Nick Nolte, and "The Great Santini," starring Robert Duvall. Conroy's most successful novel, "The Prince of Tides," has more than 5 million copies in print and garnered the author an international reputation. Conroy has a new book, a memoir titled "The Death of Santini," that is set to be published on Oct. 30.

The Oct. 4 reading featuring Conroy will begin at 7 p.m. in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Hood's work has garnered numerous awards and critical attention. Her first volume, "How Far She Went" (1984), won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and The Southern Review / Louisiana State University Short Fiction Award.  "And Venus is Blue," Hood's second collection, won the Lillian Smith Award, the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists Author-of-the-Year Award, and the Townsend Prize for Fiction. Additionally, Hood's fiction has received the Whiting Writers' Award and the Robert Penn Warren Award. Her 1996 novel, "Familiar Heat," has been turned into a screenplay.

"Having an author of Mary Hood's stature on our campus creates an exciting opportunity for students and faculty to interact with someone whose works they've read and admired," said Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters. "The energy and excitement generated from this kind of event will continue for a long time."

The afternoon session of the Oct. 5 conference will feature a reading by Hood as well as a question-and-answer session. Keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Corey, who is a poet, essayist and editor of The Georgia Review, will discuss Hood's longstanding relationship with The Georgia Review and the evolution of her writing. Also speaking will be Dr. Hugh Ruppersburg, senior associate director of the University of Georgia's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Ruppersburg is author of "After O'Connor: Stories from Contemporary Georgia" and editor of the three-volume set "Georgia Voices."

"I am pleased and grateful to be invited to the conference at UNG," Hood said. "This event will gather scholars, teachers, students and readers from around the South to discuss topics in my own work and their own studies which relate to what is going on in our region today. The panels and readings of papers will create campus opportunities for UNG students to experience lively debate and fresh ideas about literature and what the word 'South' means to today's readers."

Copies of Hood's three volumes will be available for purchase, as will copies of the upcoming special edition of The Georgia Review focusing specifically on Hood's fiction. 

"The nicest thing about this conference is that I am not being invited to achieve, or even to hope to achieve a thing. I am going to meet readers," Hood said. "Some will be people who caught on, long before I did in my own life, what room they need to be in. I will probably speak with some writers who haven't begun their life's work yet. I hope to encourage them on their own journey." 

Additionally, the conference will offer a competition for creative writers. Poets and short story writers are encouraged to submit their work. For more information on this component of the conference, please contact Gloria Bennett at

On Oct. 5, the conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Martha T. Nesbitt Building. Individual sessions devoted to particular aspects of Hood's work will be conducted until 12:30. Lunch will be provided. Registration is available and costs $49 before Sept. 23 and $55 after, and will close on Oct.3.


Michael Marshall
Communications Specialist

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