Corrington Award

The John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence is presented annually by the Department of English on behalf of the Centenary student body and faculty to an established writer who has earned the critical esteem of readers who distinguish artistic accomplishment from commercial success.

In 1991 Eudora Welty became the first recipient of the Corrington Award when she read her short story "A Worn Path" at Centenary's spring Commencement.


Amy HempelAmy Hempel, Photograph by Vicki Topaz.

Amy Hempel will receive the 2014-2015 John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence on
March 2, 2015. The ceremony, including a reading by Amy Hempel, will take place at 7 PM in the Whited Room, Bynum Commons. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Corrington Award whose inaugural recipient in 1991 was Eudora Welty. Hempel is the author of five collections of short stories, the most recent of which, The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel (2006), was named one of the “10 Best Books of the Year” by the New York Times. Centenary students will be reading The Collected Stories in many of their English courses. Hempel’s honors include the Rea Award for the Short Story (2008) and the PEN/Malamud Award (2009). A professor in the creative writing program at the University of Florida, Hempel is also the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University and a senior lecturer at Harvard. Well known for her love of dogs, she is a founding board member of Morgan’s Place, a dog sanctuary in New Milford, CT, and The Deja Foundation in New York City, which “offers direct assistance for care, training, recovery, and rehabilitation to dogs rescued from high-kill shelters.”

Other recipients have been:

The brainchild of the English department, the Corrington Award honors a Centenary alumnus and English major, Bill Corrington (1932-1988). With degrees from Rice University (MA, 1960), the University of Sussex (D.Phil., 1964), and Tulane University (J.D., 1975), Corrington pursued a peripatetic career. He was variously an English professor, an attorney in private practice, and, with his wife, Joyce, the head writer for several television series, including Search for Tomorrow and General Hospital. A prolific poet, he also published four novels, two short novels, and three collections of short stories. He is probably best known as the author of the short novel Decoration Day, thanks to the 1990 film starring James Garner, Bill Cobbs, Ruby Dee, and Laurence Fishburne. With Miller Williams, Corrington edited the two-volume anthology Southern Writing in the Sixties. About this influential collection of poems and short stories Ernest J. Gaines observed when accepting the second annual Corrington Award, "Many young Southerners unknown then are known today. And much of that can be credited to Corrington and Williams."

The Corrington Award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally exhibited Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell. The medal depicts two primitive figures, one of them slightly in front of the other, carrying a long object. A presentation box, hand made by a local craftsman, accompanies the medal.

A book by the year's Corrington recipient figures in all sections of English 101, and students are able to interact with the author both in and out of class.

Originally the award got its funding from the Student Government Association. Its inception thus represented an unusual cooperative venture by a student union and an academic department. The award now benefits from generous donations by the Corrington and Attaway families.

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