Alabama native awarded esteemed Hall-Waters Prize

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Troy University’s has named the recipient of the 2024 Hall-Waters Prize for Excellence in Southern Writing.

Patricia Foster is an author who is now part of Troy University’s Hall-Waters Prize legacy. The Hall-Waters Prize is meant to be awarded to a person who has made “significant contributions to southern heritage and culture in history, literature or the arts.”

Foster is a professor at the University of Iowa, but she’s originally from Fairhope, Alabama.

“I live in Iowa where the trees are still very stark, there’s maybe a little bit of blossoms, but here, everything is in bloom and it feels like the culture is very much in bloom too,” Foster said. “There’s sort of [an] energy as well as beauty.”

Patricia Foster, Hall-Waters Prize recipient

Foster has written eight books, most of them non-fiction. Her most recent published work is “Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter.”

“We read autobiographies, we read memoirs of people because they move us to know the individual and the individual coming of age journey, the individual health journey, the individual that’s in trauma,” Foster explained.

Foster has been teaching for over 25 years. Her works commonly cover sensitive topics like gender inequality, mental illness, poverty and even death. She says students not only need to discuss these topics, but want to discuss them.

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“They get irritated with you if you don’t talk about the hard questions and, not just the hard questions in terms of culture, but the hard questions in terms of literature,” Foster told TrojanVision.

During the Hall-Waters presentation, students were allowed to ask her questions and advice.

The Hall-Waters ceremony is organized by English majors in Dr. Kirk Curnutt’s English 4495, senior seminar class.