Centenary to host Corrington Award for Literary Excellence November 15

SHREVEPORT, LA — Novelist and filmmaker Ruth Ozeki will receive Centenary’s John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence during a ceremony on Monday, November 15. The 7:00 p.m. event in Centenary’s Marjorie Lyons Playhouse includes a reading from Ozeki and is free and open to the public. The ceremony will also be streamed live via Facebook at centenary.edu/ozeki.

Ozeki was chosen as the 2020 Corrington Award winner but her ceremony was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am so thrilled that Ruth Ozeki will be coming to share her work with our campus community,” said Dr. Jeanne Hamming, professor of English at Centenary. “This visit is now more than two years in the making, but it is definitely worth the wait. I think what I love about Ozeki’s novels is that they are always a riot of humor and insight. Her approach to narrative is not what I would consider traditionally literary. Rather, her stories run all over the place. When I teach her work, students have a wonderful time mapping out the wild range of connections. Her approach is very nonlinear, and I find that fascinating.”

Ozeki graduated from Smith College with degrees in English literature and Asian Studies and was awarded a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to study classical Japanese literature at Nara Women’s University. Following her return to the United States in 1985, she worked for a decade as an art director in the film industry and in television production, directing documentaries for Japanese TV. In 1994, Ozeki started making her own films, including an award-winning autobiographical piece, Halving the Bones. Her films have been broadcast on PBS and screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Film Festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others.

Ozeki published her first novel, My Year of Meats, in 1998. She followed this critically-acclaimed debut with All Over Creation (2003), A Tale for the Time Being (2013), and a personal work of non-fiction, The Face: A Time Code (2016). Her novels have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. A Tale for the Time Being, which Centenary students are reading this semester in Trek 115, leaps back and forth between Canada and Japan, past and present, to take readers on a journey through time and memory, loss and recovery. It won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ozeki’s newest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, was published by Viking in September 2021. Her work has been praised for its ability to weave together science, technology, religion, environmental politics, and global pop culture in unique and surprising ways.

In addition to her literary and artistic achievements, Ozeki was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. On Tuesday, November 16, at 11:10 a.m., she will give a Dharma talk and lead a guided meditation at Centenary’s weekly chapel service in Brown Chapel.

The John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence is presented annually by the Department of English at Centenary on behalf of the Centenary student body and faculty to an established, critically-acknowledged writer. The award honors a Centenary alumnus and English major, Bill Corrington (1932-1988), who 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.

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. The 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 craftsperson, accompanies the medal. For more information on the Corrington Award and a full list of past winners, visit centenary.edu/corrington.

The annual Corrington Award presentation is generously underwritten by the Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture.


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