Three Southern writers to be honored for literary excellence

Monday, February 13th 2006, 12:31 pm
By: News On 6

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) _ Playwright Beth Henley and William Faulkner scholar Noel Polk are to be honored later this month for their contributions to literature and film.

Henley, who wrote the screenplay for the movie version of her play, ``The Miss Firecracker Contest,'' will receive the Horton Foote Award for achievement in screenwriting. Henley won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1981 for ``Crimes of the Heart.''

Polk, who recently edited new texts of Faulkner's novels for Random House, is a winner of the annual Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. Also receiving the Wright prize is William Ferris, perhaps best known for ``The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture,'' which he co-edited with Charles Wilson in 1989.

Both awards are part of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, where all three writers will be honored on Feb. 25.

Polk, a professor of English at Mississippi State University and editor of The Mississippi Quarterly, taught at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1977 to 2004. He has given lectures throughout the world on Faulkner and Eudora Welty, and was a compiler of the 1993 book ``Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work.''

Ferris, senior associate director at the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi for nearly 20 years and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

``Miss Firecracker,'' the film version of Henley's play, will be screened at the event. Holly Hunter starred in both the off-Broadway production and the movie.