TROY to honor nonfiction author Patricia Foster with Hall-Waters Prize on April 12

Foster, an award-winning nonfiction author, is a native of Fairhope, Alabama.

Foster, an award-winning nonfiction author, is a native of Fairhope, Alabama.

Award-winning nonfiction author Patricia Foster, a native of Fairhope, will receive the Hall-Waters Prize from Troy University on April 12.

Foster, who is professor emerita at the University of Iowa’s celebrated MFA Program where she taught for more than 25 years, will read selections from her most recent memoir, “Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter” (2023), at 9:30 a.m. in Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park on the Troy Campus. Admission is free and open to the public. In case of rain the reading will be held in the Lamar P. Higgins Ballroom, located on the second floor of the Trojan Center.

Endowed by the late Dr. Wade Hall, a Bullock County native and TROY alumnus, in memory of his parents Wade Hall, Sr. and Sarah Elizabeth Waters, the award is presented regularly to a person who has made significant contributions to Southern heritage and culture in history, literature or the arts. Past winners include Rep. John Lewis, Bobbie Ann Mason, Pat Conroy, Natasha Trethewey, Cassandra King, Ace Atkins, and the songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, among others. A complete history of the award is available at the Hall-Waters Prize webpage.

Foster will read selections from her memoir, “Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter,” at 9:30 a.m. on April 12 in the amphitheater at the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park on the Troy Campus.

“Patricia Foster is a wonderfully dexterous essayist and fiction writer whose work captures the complexities of Southern families,” said Dr. Kirk Curnutt, Chair of English at Troy University. “’Written in the Sky’is really the culmination of all of her work on the ties that bind between sisters and daughters and parents, with a keen eye on setting, which is always rich in description and intense in mood. Her writing focuses on themes readers feel intensely today—healing and recovery, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and empathy. She is a veteran of many of the most prestigious literary journals publishing today, and a wonderfully encouraging teacher and editor.”

Foster is the author of eight books, including, in addition to “Written in the Sky,” published by the University of Alabama Press, the novel “Girl from Soldier Creek,” the essay collection “Just Beneath My Skin,” and the memoir “All the Lost Girls: Confessions of a Southern Daughter.” Additionally, she co-edited the creative nonfiction anthology “Understanding the Essay” with Jeff Porter, and three collections of women’s nonfiction, “The Healing Circle: Narratives of Recovery,” co-edited with Mary Swander, “Sister to Sister,” and “Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul.”She is the recipient of a 2020 Pushcart Prize, the Clarence Cason Award for Nonfiction, and the SFA Prize for the Novel, among many other honors.

For the third straight year, English majors in Dr. Curnutt’s English 4495, senior seminar, are organizing the Hall-Waters ceremony, from picking the menu and writing the award citation to publicizing the event.

“The hands-on experience students gain in putting a ceremony like this together positions them perfectly for future employment either in publishing, literary tourism, or arts management,” Curnutt said. “We already know our majors are excellent creative artists. This event gives them an opportunity to demonstrate that they know how to put on an exciting, memorable show.”

About Wade Hall

An alumnus of Troy State Teachers College, Dr. Hall, who died in 2015, grew up near Union Springs. After serving as a teacher in Opp and a stint in the U.S. Army, Hall earned a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He taught English at the University of Florida, Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University.

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